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Information On The Staunton Murder 1877?


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#1 Pauln1961

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 09:22 AM

My wife was raised in Mosslea Road in the 1950's and is looking for information or preferably a photo of the area around that time. The house she lived in was at the junction of Mosslea Rd and Station Rd and was used by her father as a TV repair shop. Having had nightmares for years about the place she would like as much info on the Staunton Murder of 1877 to see where it was in relation to where she lived.

Thank you in advance.

#2 RachelF

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 09:55 AM

Found this rather politically uncorrect snippet on the Find a property web site of all places:

And then disaster struck. It is hard to recreate the national shock of the Penge Murder of 1877 but it reverberated throughout the land and in a stroke the seemingly unstoppable rise to gentility of the district was rudely broken off.

Harriet Staunton, considered a retard by her new family, was slowly starved to death by her husband, brother-in-law and sisters-in-law. Harriet was not so retarded as to not know what was going on and when her own knowledge of her impending doom was revealed it only added to the shock Victorian society felt for this poor defenceless girl.

The authorities pulled out all the stops, renaming the street (from Forbes Road to Mosslea Road) and even claiming that the thoroughfare was over the border in Beckenham. No-one was fooled, and in a stroke a genteel air was reduced to that of a "low neighbourhood".

According to this site, it happened at number 34 Forbes Road

http://www.crayford.... commentary.htm
Rachel
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#3 Chris Doran

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 02:20 AM

No 34 is at the tip of the arrow at http://www.streetmap...mapp=newmap.srf and just a couple of houses from your father-in-law's shop.

The Beckenham/Penge Border cuts Mosslea Road just before the R on the map, between Nos 26 and 27 (the houses are numbered consecutively, not odds and evens), with higher numbers, including 34, on the Beckenham side. Further, most of the starving of the unfortunate woman and her baby took place in Cudham – she was only taken to Forbes Road for her last few days. But despite pointing out these facts, the Beckenham Journal of the time called it "The Penge Mystery" (later "Murder") and the association stuck. It did not help that another murder had taken place in the same part of Beckenham's curious "tongue of land" a few weeks previously, and had also been misattributed to Penge. This error dogs us to this day – anything bad happening in Beckenham anywhere north of the Regal roundabout is regularly attributed by the newspapers to Penge, though the border is actually at Kent House Road.

Whether the Staunton murder was really responsible for the decline of Penge is a matter of debate. A very similar murder by starvation took place in Lower Sydenham in 1890, but is never said to have had the same effect on that area.

A book on the murder was written recently by local resident Mike Weller: "Harriet Staunton: A Victorian Murder Ballad", Mike J Weller, Visual Associates, 1999, ISBN 0 9528135 9 9. It is also covered in "The Book of Penge, Anerley & Crystal Palace", Peter Abbott & the Anerley Writers Circle, Halsgrove, 2002, ISBN 1 84114 210 7. These books are available from Amazon if you can't get them locally (MW's is the better/cheaper one for just the murder).

E-mail me if you want present-day photos of the two properties.

#4 Pauln1961

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 08:51 AM

Thank you both very much for the information. It has been very helpful. My wife has now managed to locate a copy of the book you mentioned and will be ordering it today.

Thank you both.