Gruesome Relics

The Hull Daily Mail, on Saturday the 23rd of September, 1922, analysed the “fortune” that the journalist and playwright, George Sims, may have left:-



It is said that the fortune left by G. R. Sims will be very much less than was at first surmised, remarks a writer in the London “Evening News.”

Gossip said that it would be found that G. R. Sims had left anything from forty to fifty thousand pounds; there were some, indeed, who estimated his estate at a sum very much greater.

A photograph of George Sims.
George Sims. A. K. A. Dagonet.


Certainly Sims, in the course of his long and very interesting life, made large sums of money.

When he wrote his best-known melodrama, “The Lights of London,” he was a young man, living life, and he wanted money immediately – £1,000 if he could get it.

He once told me how he took the play to Wilson Barrett:-

“Barrett read it and wanted it immediately, and I was ready to let him have it. I needed the £1,000, but Barrett didn’t seem prosperous, and I at last mentioned the sum of £600. But Barrett was most prompt. ‘I can’t buy it outright,’ he said. ‘We’ll arrange royalties.””

Well, royalties it had to be; and that is why in one way and another I made £40,000 out of the “Lights London.””

Indeed, royalties from plays – and from films – brought him considerable sums.


And, as a journalist, he was certainly not meanly paid.

His income as contributor to the “The Referee” alone was between £1,500 and £2,000 a year.

Those who knew him best talked of him as having an income, all told, of £4,000 a year, or thereabouts.

An examination of his estate shows, however, that his estate is not nearly so valuable as his friends have assumed – that, apart from his house and its contents and a considerable insurance policy, he has left but little.


“Opposite the ducks” – as his handsome house in Regent’s Park is called, is shortly to be put up for sale.

Sims lived in for forty years, and the lease has 21 years to run.

The furniture and contents will also be sold.


Most remarkable of the contents is the crime museum which he got together in the course of a life-long interest in crime, and made acquaintance with celebrated criminals.

There is, for example, the collar which brought Bennett, the Yarmouth murderer, to the scaffold; it bears the laundry marks by which he was traced and arrested.

There is the chair on which Mrs Pearcey murdered Mrs Hogg and her child.

Illustrations depicting the murder of Phoebe Hogg.
The Murder of Phoebe Hogg By Mary Pearcey As Portrayed By The Illustrated Police News. Copyright, The British Library Board. All Rights Reserved.


There are many interesting letters.

One is from Neil Cream to an acquaintance, and on the back of it is written:- “Hanged at the Old Bailey for poisoning women.”

There is a letter from Norwich Prison written by Bennett, the Yarmouth murderer, to his father, trusting he would not believe the charges which were being made against him, assuring him he knew nothing of the crime, and ending. “Your affectionate but miserable son, Herbert.”


There are scores of remarkable photographs – most of them very gruesome and showing murdered corpses in the exact position in which they were found.

The most extraordinary are the Jack the Ripper photographs.

The series is brought up-to-date so that there is photograph of the victim of the Eastbourne murder.

In the front hall is a very handsome card bowl of polished copper. This was once the washing bowl in the prisoners’ cell in Newgate Prison.”