Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #8

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #8
'A Verdict'

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 eighth vignette. After his arrest prime suspect John Williams was taken to Coldbath Fields Prison (or House of Correction) in Clerkenwell. On the morning of the 27th December 1811 'the turnkey at the gaol had gone to prepare the suspect for his trip to Shadwell, when he discovered Williams suspended by the neck from the iron bar which crossed the cell, provided for prisoners to hang their clothes (surely a design fault if ever there was one!). The body was cold and lifeless, and the universal conclusion was that John Williams had passed judgement upon himself. Thus the days proceedings were undertaken on the assumption that his guilt would now be revealed.'

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WET PAINT Studio said...

Gosh! Paul these images are really beautiful. Nice development of your work. They fittingly have an air of authority about them.

Paul Bommer said...

Thanks so much Adam!

ElizT said...

They are all fascinating and beautiful.