In March 1950, a twenty-five-year-old Welshman, Timothy John Evans, was hanged at Pentonville Prison for the murder of his infant daughter Geraldine. Evans had voluntarily confessed to her killing, and to that of his young wife Beryl, in November of the previous year - both by strangulation. Their bodies had been found concealed in an outbuilding of the house in which they had all lived. A jury at the Old Bailey had taken just forty minutes to reach its unanimous verdict and the destruction of the whole young family had spanned but four months. READ MORE…

Ruth Margarete Christine Fuerst – 21 August 1943

On or about this day in 1943, Ruth Fuerst, Christie’s first known victim was murdered at 10 Rillington Place. Born on 2 August 1922 in Bad Vöslau in Lower Austria, she was half-Jewish and, having moved to Vienna in October 1938 following the German annexation of Austria in March, Ruth lost contact with her parents for a time and arrived as a refugee in Britain in June 1939.

Initially, she worked in various casual employments but was later interned as an alien on the Isle of Wight until December 1940. Once released, she moved towards London and found work as a waitress in the Mayfair Hotel; she met a Cypriot man by whom she had a daughter, born in October 1942, who was later given up for adoption.

By 1943, Ruth was in London and again working as a waitress. Previously at an address in Elgin Crescent, she moved to 41 Oxford Gardens in Notting Hill which was close by to Rillington Place and, thus, within Christie’s sphere of activity, both as a local resident himself and as a War Reserve Constable. By this time she was working in a munitions factory at the Grosvenor Works of John Bolding and Sons in Davies Street WC1. Having left that job, Ruth may have resorted to casual prostitution to provide income although this is not known for certain. In any event, she had by now become acquainted with Christie and had, according to him, already visited the house at No. 10 twice; on this occasion, Christie’s wife Ethel was away in Sheffield visiting her family and Christie later recounted how, during intercourse with Ruth, he had strangled her with a rope. With his wife’s return home imminent, Christie described how he had bundled up Ruth’s body and moved it temporarily to beneath the front room floorboards before subsequently moving her to the outside wash house and finally burying her in a shallow grave in the back garden – where she was to remain until discovered by police ten years later in 1953.

Sir John Hurt, CBE, 1940 – 2017

Today brings the sad news that actor John Hurt has died at the age of 77. First seen by a wide audience in Robert Bolt’s classic 1966 film A Man for All Seasons, starring the great Paul Scofield as Thomas More, Hurt played the villainous and ruthlessly ambitious Richard Rich who betrays More for the reward of being appointed Attorney General for Wales. In real life, Rich later became Lord Chancellor of England and, history tells us, the – by then Baron – Rich, died peacefully in his bed aged 70. But many will regard Hurt’s BAFTA-nominated portrayal of Timothy Evans, in the 1970 film 10 Rillington Place, as his finest hour and, alongside Richard Attenborough as John Christie, it is certainly a compelling performance and one of the most impressive aspects of that film, for all its factual failings.

Timothy Evans – a pardoned murderer

A great many comments have been made on Twitter and elsewhere following yesterday’s third and final episode of the BBC’s 2016 drama, ‘Rillington Place’. The closing credits contained a caption indicating that Timothy John Evans, although pardoned, remains a convicted murderer.

Read moreTimothy Evans – a pardoned murderer

‘Rillington Place’ – episode 3, BBC 13 December 2016

The third and final episode opens with a brief recap on last week’s death of Beryl Evans and a short sequence in which the Notting Hill police are pressing Timothy Evans to confess (although the official records, still in existence and held at The National Archives, reveal that the confessions were volunteered and received in an atmosphere of calm and restraint. Evans himself made no allegations against the police of any duress, undue influence or aggression).

We then start to hear the rather incongruous-seeming strains of Whispering Grass (Don’t Tell The Trees) – a popular song first heard on the radio in 1940.

Read more‘Rillington Place’ – episode 3, BBC 13 December 2016

Beryl and Geraldine Evans – potential reinterment?

There are some interesting pieces currently in the press regarding the story of how one of Beryl Evans’s siblings, Mr Peter Mylton-Thorley, now aged 82, has expressed the wish to have the mortal remains of his sister, Beryl (née Thorley), and her daughter Geraldine, disinterred from their current whereabouts in Gunnersbury Cemetery and reinterred with him in a Jewish cemetery as an act of reunion, once the time comes.

Read moreBeryl and Geraldine Evans – potential reinterment?

‘Rillington Place’ – episode 2, BBC 6 December 2016

Now that the second of the three episodes of the BBC’s 2016 drama series Rillington Place has aired, it becomes clearer that the so-called ‘Standard Version’ of events – that is, the account embodied in Ludovic Kennedy’s 1961 book Ten Rillington Place – has, as expected, been used as the basis. As before, the atmospherics and portrayals are exceedingly good and make for chilling and impressive viewing – even the apparent discrepancies about Timothy Evans’s seemingly variable accent has been explained as symptomatic of his ‘chameleon’ persona and desire for acceptance, which sounds plausible although observations have been made, by those in a position to have knowledge, that his accent was indeed Welsh and, thus, this portrayal is actually erroneous. 

Read more‘Rillington Place’ – episode 2, BBC 6 December 2016

‘Rillington Place’ – episode 1, BBC 29 November 2016

Well, the long wait for Rillington Place is over and we can, at last, see the some of the fruits of the BBC’s labours in bringing this compelling story to a whole new audience. Tonight’s episode, the first of three in the series, centres on Ethel Christie and starts from the time of her reconciliation with husband John Reginald ‘Reg’ Halliday Christie after an eleven-year separation. Tim Roth presents a chillingly convincing depiction of the main character whilst the external scenery shots, particularly of the street itself, are also impressively authentic-seeming. The pace is slow – perhaps too slow for some – but understated in an effective way but the quietly delivered dialogue is a little difficult to follow in places.

Read more‘Rillington Place’ – episode 1, BBC 29 November 2016

Simple Share Buttons