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Victorian Penge murder mystery story


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#1 RachelF

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:36 AM

There's an article it in today's Observer if anyone is interested.
http://www.guardian....-murder-jenkins
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#2 Summit Lover

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:31 PM

Fascinating story - thanks for posting. The whole area is steeped in history, so I am not surprised :)

#3 andreas

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:17 PM

Here's a summary of this very sad tale:

In 1877, Emma Chalkin let two rooms in her house at 34 Forbes Road to Harriet Staunton. Within 18 hours, Harriet was dead, having been allegedly starved over a period of months by her husband, Lewis, and brother-in-law, Patrick, at Cudham in Kent.

Sir Edward George Clarke defended Patrick Staunton in The Penge Murder trial. Patrick was found guilty of murder, but the death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. Harriet Staunton was buried in the churchyard of St George's, Beckenham.

Forbes Road was renamed Mosslea Road because of the notoriety of the case.
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#4 gekko

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:42 AM

I saw that too Rachel. It also came through on my Guardian Facebook feed. Will definitely be reading :).
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#5 andreas

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:41 PM

Many thanks RachelF for posting, a really interesting article. I've always found the story really creepy, which is perhaps why it captivated the Victorian newspapers. Good to have Rachel Cooke covering it.

Edited by andreas, 16 April 2012 - 06:42 PM.

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#6 NickJ

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 10:55 AM

It always seemed to me to be tough on Penge that it got lumbered with this one... after all, it should really be the Cudham murder mystery. The family brought her to Penge - on the train from Bromley South to Penge East - to die. Odd that the Observer feature made so little of the geography of it, given the name by which it became notorious.

There's a very good non-fiction account (can't remember the name offhand) that I borrowed a while back from Bromley library. I often think of that when I'm on a train going through Penge East, as the Hollywood East pub was the scene of Harriet's inquest, which attracted extraordinary attention at the time.

It is often claimed that it was the murder that damaged forever the reputation of Penge, a suburb that grew up around the Crystal Palace, which I suppose is plausible. Though I tend to blame Hitler and the Luftwaffe for making the rehabilitation of the area such an uphill climb.

#7 Chris Doran

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 12:15 AM

Even tougher on Penge is that she didn't even die there -- the area between Penge East Station and the High Street is bisected by the Beckenham/Penge border (boundary posts can still be seen in St John's and Crampton Roads) -- and 34 Forbes Road is in Beckenham. But for some reason, like an earlier murder in 1877 where the victim was found in or near what is now Alexandra Park, it somehow got attributed to Penge.

Even today, crimes in the western end of Beckenham frequently get attributed to Penge.

#8 NickJ

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 09:33 AM

Good point, Chris. It's funny how the Beckenham/Penge border is often blurred according to what suits people at the time.

No doubt the current Bromley council would be actively attributing the murder to Penge if it had happened now! Penge seems a dumping ground for everything Bromley doesn't really want. One reason why Crystal Palace Park is such a problem for them - if only they could move it four miles south...

Ironically, rural Cudham is also now in the borough of Bromley. I notice there is no mention of the murder on the Cudham Wikipedia page, whereas the Penge page has a reference to the 1877 Penge Murders, plural!

#9 andreas

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:52 PM

Poor much-maligned Penge. Maybe it should rename itself Pencoed, like the town in South Wales. The names come from the same source, meaning 'head of the wood'.

It is one of the few places in the London area that has a Celtic name, which suggests that native Britons may have survived in the wooded hills during the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

NB by the way, this is not andreas being naughty, it's all sourced from "London Gazetteer" by Russ Willey (Chambers, 2006).
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#10 bebofpenge

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 10:56 AM

This followed two years after the original Penge murders when Frederick Hunt murdered his wife and all but his oldest child.  He was found not guilty by virtue of insanity and joined his brother in Bethlem Hospital (aka Bedlam).

 

Bromley council have carefully shifted the ward boundary so that Penge now extends to the railway line.  Before the GLC only a tiny part of a Penge East Station platform was in Penge - the rest was in Beckenham.