Many people visit London because it’s jam-packed with history. Visitors from newer countries love the fact that there are buildings, streets and stories that existed long before their own country did.
But history from way back, although fascinating, is only part of what London has to offer when it comes to stories of times gone by. I don’t know about you but I’m fascinated by more recent history; history of the within-living-memory kind.
One piece of history that is particularly interesting – and grisly – and pretty unbelievable – is the story of Ruth Ellis. And today you can visit the place where Ruth Ellis supposedly committed the worst of all crimes, murder.
Ruth Ellis, in case you’ve never heard of her, was the last woman to be hanged in Britain.
Today many people are appalled by the use of capital punishment and if she committed her crime today, a crime of passion, she might be sentenced to only a short prison term.
But despite the fact that she was a young mother, despite the fact that she was an attractive woman, despite the fact that she had had a miscarriage shortly before the murder, despite the fact that the victim (her lover) had physically mistreated her, the execution order as usual for the time read that she should be ‘hanged from the neck until dead’.
How barbaric it seems to us these days.
Ruth Ellis shot her lover as he came out of a London pub, the Magdala. You’ll see it on the map below although at time of writing the building isn’t in use so you’ll not be able to call in for a pint. But beware if anyone tells you that there are gruesome bullet holes in the wall from that murder.
You see, for many years people went to look at these gruesome reminders of that murder … until just a couple of years ago. At that time a regular at the pub revealed that the holes had actually been made with an electric drill some thirty five or so years after the murder. Evidently it was an idea the landlady has come up with to increase tourism to the pub and hence the sale of more pints and bags of crisps.
There had been a film made about the murder in 1985 – Dance with a Stranger – and interest in Ruth’s story had been rekindled. The landlady decided to capitalise on this.
The film didn’t use the Magdala as the location of the murder however. Assuming that one London pub looks much like another (ha) the location used in the movie was the Three Kings. That’s on the map below too so that you will be able to, at last, quench your thirst after visiting this historical and gruesome location.
HOW TO FIND THE MAGDALA AND THE THREE KINGS
THE THREE KINGS
7 Clerkenwell Close,
London EC1R 0DY,
2a S Hill Park,
London NW3 2SB,
THE HOME OF STYLLOU CHRISTOFI
11 S Hill Park,
You’ll notice that there are three markers on the map above. Two are the pubs, the Magdala and the Three Kings.
The third is the home of Styllou Christofi. She was the last-but-one woman to be hanged in Britain having been executed just months earlier for the murder of her daughter-in-law.
The proximity of her home and the scene of the Ellis crime is worth noting, especially as the two women were hanged just months apart. A creepy coincidence.
Today both women would probably receive short jail sentences. Ruth Ellis had had an abortion some months before she shot her lovers and had had a miscarriage only a few days beforehand. It’s likely that Styllou Christofi, at the age of 53 at the time of the murder, was menopausal.
Could hormones simply have affected their deeds?
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.