The 19th century East End of London was an area in which many mysteries unfolded, in addition to the major cases such as the Jack the Ripper murders.
All manner of crimes and unexplained happenings in the area were reported in the pages of the newspapers of the age.
The Dundee Courier, on Tuesday the 4th of October, 1883, broke the story of an awful discovery that had been made in a house in Mile End, East London, on the 30th of September 1883:-
HORRIBLE DISCOVERY IN LONDON
CHILD’S HEAD FOUND
“A man named Robertson, who has occupied a house in Mile End, London, for about two months, and who had noticed a very bad smell there, made investigations on Sunday, and behind the ventilator of his register stove found the head of a child about six years old much decomposed.
Later particulars of the discovery of a child’s head in a flue of a house in Albion Street, Mile End, do not clear the mystery.
The police have succeeded in tracing the whereabouts of the former occupants of the room – a family named Long, now residing in Green Street. Bethnal Green.
THE SKULL OF A CHILD
The medical examination of the skull tends to show that it is that of a child of ten or twelve years old, and has been concealed probably for some years.
NO CLUE AT PRESENT
There is no clue to the sex of the child, nor of the method by which the head was separated from the body. The skull is fractured, but this is attributed by the doctor to the action of the heat and not blows.
An inquest will be held.”
THE DISCOVERY OF CHILD’S HEAD IN A CHIMNEY
The Shields Daily Gazette provided an update of the case in its edition of Friday, 5th October 1883:-
“At Mile End, London, yesterday, an Inquest was opened and adjourned upon the head of a child found on Sunday, hidden in a bedroom chimney.
It appeared from the evidence that the discovery was made by a tenant who had been living in the house for about five weeks.
The woman, who had lived there for 13 months, deposed that the former occupants of the room, where the discovery was effected, had children, but she did not know where they had gone.
No other remains had been found.”
THE HEAD FOUND IN A CHIMNEY
The Hackney and Kingsland Gazette, on Monday the 15th of October, 1883 published details of the conclusion of the inquest:-
“On Friday, Sir John Humphreys concluded his inquiry respecting the head of a body that was found in a chimney at a place known as Sanderson house, Albion street, Burdett road, on the 30th ult.
It will be recollected that a woman named Robinson, who occupied one of the rooms of the house, went to light a fire in her bedroom, when she was unable to lift the trap, and she then called the husband, who, on putting his hand up the chimney, pulled down the head of a child.
This, on being submitted to medical examination, was found to belong to a child aged between six and eight years of age, and had been severed from the body with some blunt instrument in an unskilful manner.
STILL NO CLUES
Chief Inspector William Back was called, and he stated that no trace of the other portion of the body was found.
No clue had been obtained as to how the head came into the chimney.
AN OPEN VERDICT
The Coroner, in summing up, observed that that was all the evidence forthcoming, and he counselled the jury to return an open verdict.
The jury, after a short consultation, took this view of the matter, and returned a verdict accordingly.”