The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

A Collection of Writings

New!!

Anecdotes

Archaeology

Aviation

Battle of Britain

Biography

Books

Computers

Cricket

Films

Ghosts

Hammer

History

Horror

Motor Racing

Murder

Mystery

Pitt of Horror

RAF

Sci Fi

Travel

Vampires

Winston Churchill

World War 2

Ingrid's Obituary


Hole in the Wall Pub

Bread and dripping was the favoured snack but how did the customers feel when they found out where it came from?
Katie Webster and John Church

Katie Webster and John Church

The old saw about not being able to see the forest for the trees really hit home recently. When I was researching my book on slaughter, sadism and general nastiness I had all sorts of problems finding suitably gruesome subjects. The book done and dusted I called in for a swift one at the Hole in the Wall pub in Richmond one sunny afternoon. I sat at one of the outside tables, quaffed my medicinal brandy and was about to leave when a man approached me and asked me if I was who I am. I wasn’t sure whether to come over all humble and thank him for recognising me or play the haughty star with a fine display of nose looking down. While I was still trying to work out my spontaneous reaction the bloke dropped into the plastic chair opposite. I decided on a nervous smile and he reacted by telling me that he had just read my murder book. That was better. There’s something so companionable about someone who has spent time reading your thoughts. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, he asked me if I was at the Hole in the Wall doing research. I looked at my vivifying cognac and wondered if he was looking for a knuckle sandwich. He realised we weren’t tuned in on the same exotic frequency and nodded to a house across the road.

“You know about the murder that happened there about a hundred years ago?” he asked lugubriously.

He proceeded to give me the low-down on one of the most grisly murders I’ve ever come across. Next time I was passing the library I nipped in to check the facts of what happened in that quiet Richmond backwater in 1897. It seems that while I was roaming far and wide looking for suitable page fodder I was literally living less than a hundred yards from the site of a particularly gruesome slaughter. And I use ‘slaughter’ advisedly. Even as I write this I can glance out of the window and see the back garden where much of the mayhem took place.

It seems that the house in Park Road was rented by a distressed gentlewoman with pretensions to grandeur, Mrs. Julia Thomas. Short of cash she had trouble keeping up with the Tristans and Ffionas next door so when it came to hiring a maid she couldn’t be too choosy. Kate Webster called and presented the excellent references she had written herself that morning and intimated that she worked cheap. Mrs. Thomas grabbed her and installed her in the back bedroom. It was an arrangement made on the tine of a pitchfork. Two weeks later Mrs. Thomas decided that even the kudos of having a maid wasn’t worth having Kate Webster in the house so she told her to hop it. Kate was vastly under-amused. She had recently been released from prison and the quiet suburban road suited her - for the moment. She tried threats and blandishments. Neighbours later told of heated arguments they had heard over the garden wall. Soon the arguments were silenced. Incautiously Mrs. Thomas pursued her demand that the irksome maid should leave into the kitchen. It was unfortunate for her that Kate was in the middle of chopping some lamb chops, cleaver in hand. Before her employer could decide that the kitchen was not the place for a genteel lady to be found dead in, she was - dead. Kate’s chopper sliced half her mistresses face off and buried itself in her brain.

Neighbour's Stories

Neighbour's Stories

Luckily it was washing day and in the outhouse in the back garden the copper was bubbling away merrily. Kate went swiftly to work with the chopper and cut her employer’s body up into copper size chunks. All night she fed the copper. Neighbours, overpowered by the constant smell of cooking, complained to each other but none thought it advisable to knock on the door of Mayfield Villa. Kate’s problem was that she was short of cash so it made it difficult to high-tail to London and disappear. And the demised mistress hadn’t left any money in the house. Kate had to maximise what she had. First there was the convenience size portions of body parts to get rid of. These she distributed around the neighbourhood. A necessary move but not one to show profit. Her next grand wheeze was more macabre. After boiling the body in the copper there was a residue of fat left in the receptacle. She scooped this out and nipped across the road to the Hole in the Wall pub and sold it to the landlady, Mrs. Heyhoe, as pork dripping. Spread on crisp new bread it was well appreciated for the next day or two by the regulars. Kate also hawked it successfully up and down the road. As successful as it was it didn’t bring in the sort of money that Kate wanted. So she decided to flog the furniture in the house to the publican of the Rising Sun in Hammersmith, Mr. John Church. Church quite fancied the putative owner of the expensive furniture he was getting on the cheap. He even offered his son as a helper to clear the house. Kate was glad of the lad’s help. She was carrying a heavy carpet bag and could do with some help on her walk back to the house of death in Richmond. When they got to Hammersmith Bridge she took the bag and told her young escort to walk on. He heard a splash and when Kate caught up with him she was minus the bag. It was as good a way as any. to dispose of the mutilated head.

Everything seemed set to go. Monday Church would pick up the furniture. Tuesday Kate Webster would board the steamer for America and a new life. The horse and cart arrived to take the furniture. And Kate was undone. What she hadn’t realised was that the house was rented - furnished! And the owner, Miss Beryl Ives, lived next door. Miss Ives did not intend to see her furniture removed from the house so demanded to see Mrs. Thomas, the tenant. The confrontation was so unexpected that Kate didn’t know what to say. While Miss Ives was actively engaged stopping Church and his son from stowing the furniture on the cart, Kate saw her chance to melt into the confusion. She grabbed a bag she had already packed, hurried to Richmond and hired a Hansom cab. America was out. She decided Ireland was her safest bet. In Ireland she had enough money not to work for a while but her idyll was shattered within weeks of taking up residence. A note with her address was found in the pocket of some overalls she left in the house in Richmond.

Kate was brought back to England and stood trial at the Old Bailey in July and was hanged shortly after.

That little story has made me look at quiet little Park Road in a different light and I can never walk past the house of death without thinking about what happened behind the green door.

(Since Ingrid wrote this piece the Hole in the Wall has been bought by David Attenburgh and is being turned into a residence. When the footings were being excavated the workmen had a macabre find. Buried beside the brickwork they found a human skull. It was taken away by the Police for forensic analysis but so far it is not known whose skull it could be. Perhaps the bag Kate dumped over into the Thames fromHammersmith Bridge was some other incriminating object and the nearly unearthed skull is that of the unfortunate Mrs. Thomas?)

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt