The Body in a Well

Found October 1896, near Shakespeare Cliff, between Dover and Folkestone, Kent.

In a small box, found floating at the foreshore by a lad named McKeen:

I, Charles Pilcher, murdered Margaret Hutchinson on November 23rd, 1870, afterwards putting the body in a well at Norwood, which, I believe, has never been found yet, and of late I can’t sleep. I can always see her waiting for me at her pantry, that was our meeting place. To-night I have made up my mind to end my miserable existence by jumping over-board. My body will be good food for the fishes. I am not fit for anything else. So good-bye to everybody. I have no friends to weep for me. I am forsaken by all.

Inquiries at the police station in Norwood, south east London, some 26 years after the alleged murder, found no recollection of a Margaret Hutchinson being reported missing, nor of a body being discovered in the district. “It was pointed out by the old inspectors,” reported the Canterbury Journal, “that Norwood had entirely changed in character during the last quarter of a century. Thousands of new houses had been erected, new roads made, and wells built over. Most wells had entirely disappeared since that time.”

[Illustrated Police News and Canterbury Journal, 10 October 1896]

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Author: Paul Brown

Writes about football and history. Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard etc. Latest book: Savage Enthusiasm: A History of Football Fans. Twitter: @paulbrownUK

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