Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #5

Ratcliffe Highway Murders Map - Vignette #5
'Indescribable Panic'

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 fifth vignette. In the aftermath of the two murderous bloodbaths, both within weeks and yards of each other, media coverage at the time sent the entire country into hysteria. Sales of guns, locks and rattles went soaring as public panic spread like wildfire.

I have shown a paper boy of the period running through the streets with news hot off the press. Although the panic was nationwide I have chosen to place our scene over the streets now occupied by Rupert Murdoch's News International media group, who themselves have whipped up many a media frenzy in the years since.

Rosemary Lane is to-day called Royal Mint Street, and for about 5 years Nick and I lived just off it in John Fisher Street Peabody Estate.

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