Retracing the Ratcliffe Highway Murders, Part One

Article published on December 21, 2011.

The Maul and the Pear TreeThe Maul and the Pear Tree, P. D. James and T. A. Critchley’s breathtaking account of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders (1811), inspired me to walk from Spitalfields down to Wapping to seek out the locations of these momentous events, and to investigate further in the East End archives.

Commemorating the bicentenary of the murders this Christmas, Spitalfields Life is delighted to collaborate with Faber, publishing reports of these terrible crimes throughout December on the exact anniversaries of their occurrence.

The first sensational crime drama to grip the nation at the beginning of the British press, the Ratcliffe Highway Murders became an early example of ‘tabloid justice’, creating a public hysteria that led to the formation of the Metropolitan Police. Happening seventy years before the more widely known Whitechapel Murders of the the 1980s, the grim events of December 1811 in Wapping remain the most compelling East End murder story of all time.”

– The Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life

Mapping the Murders at Spitalfields Life

December 1811, a young linen draper and his family were cruelly murdered at night in their home at 29 Ratcliffe Highway in Wapping. Twelve days later, a publican and members of his household were slaughtered in similar fashion, just half a mile away. Click on the links to catch-up on the murderous events of two hundred years ago this month…

Ratcliffe Highway Murder Walk

Spitalfields Life will be hosting a dusk walk on Wednesday 28th December at 3pm from St Georges in the East, visiting all the key locations and telling the bone-chilling story of Britain’s first crime sensation. The walk will take approximately an hour and a half and conclude at the historic riverside pub, The Prospect of Whitby.  Please email spitalfieldslife@gmail.com to sign up. Tickets are £10.

 

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