Sunday, 12 December 2010

10 Rillington Place

There have been a number of notable killers associated with the Royal Borough of Kensington (and Chelsea!). From the John Haig, the Acid Bath Murderer to Neville Heath, the sadist but perhaps the most famous of all is John Reginald Halliday Christie . Even if you’re not familiar with the name you will probably know his address.

10 Rillington Place is one of the most notorious locations in London and was the scene of eight murders between 1943 and 1953.

As a local, I have always been fascinated by the events that took place in this house. Despite the fact that much of the story predates my birth and that Christies life ended on the gallows in Pentonville Prison before I reached my second birthday, it was still part of the local folklore when I was at primary school. That was probably helped by the fact that my school was not much more than a 10 minute walk from the scene.

In the 1961 book of the same name, Ludovic Kennedy publicised what he saw as the terrible miscarriage of justice associated with this address. Although the true facts are still unclear, this did eventually lead to the posthumous pardoning of a man executed for one of the murders.

I have deliberately avoided going into the details of this fascinating, and controversial, case. If you are at all interested, I would recommend reading 10 Rillington Place by Ludovic Kennedy. Plus there is a great deal more information (and, of course, misinformation) available on the internet.


For a very real sense of the time and the place of these events visit www.10-rillington-place.co.uk 

5 comments:

  1. Have you seen the movie? It's not available on DVD in the States, but I've got it in my Netflix queue for when it is released.

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  2. Yes, it's quite atmospheric and is probably one of Richard Attenboroughs's better parts! It is based on the Ludovic Kennedy book, so it leans towards the Christie is entirely guilty and Timothy Evans is entirely innocent argument that Kennedy was so keen to promote.

    The arguments are quite complex. Evans was only tried for the murder of his child when, perhaps, he should have been in court for the murder of his wife etc etc.

    Ultimately, of course, this was one of the cases that eventually led to the abolition of capital punishment in the UK, which to my mind at least, was a good thing

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  3. I recently watched Dance with A Stranger (I've seen the bullet hole in the facade of the Magdala Pub in Hampstead) and I've got Pierrepoint in my Netflix queue. Abolishing capital punishment isn't even under discussion here -- I'd like to see it happen in my lifetime, but I'm not holding my breath.

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  4. You can but hope!

    Interestingly, Albert Pierrepoint was the executioner of Ruth Ellis (Dance With A Stranger) and both Evans and Christie (10 Rillington Place). He seems to have been lamentably busy, being responsible for around 435 hangings between 1932 and 1956

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  5. Kennedy's book is a great read. I read it when I was about 21 and so did my girlfriend at the time. We both were fascinated and gripped by the book. Later I saw the film. What the film lacked in the details of the book it made up for in the atmosphere of that part of London. I'm told the film was actually shot on location in the same house or street just before the lot was demolished to make way for the motorway in the sky that is the Westway.

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