Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #7

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #7
'Inquest at Shadwell'

At the beginning of the month I was asked by the Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life ( and publishers Faber & Faber ( to produce a map marking the bicentinary this month of the horrific Ratcliffe Highway Murders (December 1811), with vignettes indicating the location and dates of the pertinent events as their anniversaries occurred.

The vignettes were inspired by the book investigating the case 'The Maul and the Pear Tree', by P.D.James & T.A.Critchley, first published by Faber in 1971.

The map beneath was an 1811 map of the area, provided for me by the wonderful Stefan Dickers, archivist at the Bishopsgate Institute.

This is the seventh vignette. After the arrest of John Williams various witness were summoned for interrogation by the magistrates at Shadwell. Here I have imagined these gentlemen cross-examining the testimony of Mrs Vermilloe, landlady of the Pear Tree inn, where prime suspect Williams was arrested.

Upper Shadwell is to-day part of the Highway. Cut-throat Lane (now there's a name!) to the north later became Love Lane and more recently Brodlove Lane where my partner Nick once lived, at the Peabody Estate there.

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