Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #2

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #2
'River Police Headquarters'

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 second vignette. It shows the building of the Thames River Police down at Wapping New Stairs, as it appeared in 1811, a site they occupy to this day. 'Once news of the murders on the Ratcliffe Highway reached here in the early hours of December 8th, Police Officer Charles Horton who was on duty at the time, ran up Old Gravel Lane (now Wapping Lane) and forced his way through the crowd that had gathered outside the draper’s shop. He searched the house systematically and, apart from the mysterious chisel on the counter, he found five pounds in Timothy Marr’s pocket, small change in the till and £152 in cash in a drawer in the bedroom – confirming this was no simple robbery...'

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