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  • Location: London

The Lady in the Cellar

The Lady in the Cellar

Why a Booktrail?

1879: A woman is found long dead in the cellar of a London Square

  • ISBN: 978-1781317983
  • Genre: Crime, Historical, Non-Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Number 4 Euston Square was a respectable boarding house, well-kept and hospitable, like many others in Victorian London. But beneath this very ordinary veneer, there was a murderous darkness at its heart.

On 8th May 1879, the corpse of former resident, Matilda Hacker, was uncovered by chance in the coal cellar. The investigation that followed this macabre discovery stripped bare the shadow-side of Victorian domesticity, throwing the lives of everyone within into an extraordinary and destructive maelstrom. For someone in Number 4 Euston Square must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. Someone in that house had killed her. How could the murderer prove so amazingly elusive?

Travel Guide

London

Euston Square

Note – the location of 4 Euston Square is now no more having been demolished to make way for the train station amongst other things.

Gower Street station opened on the world’s first underground railway in 1863. It was renamed Euston Square in 1909. Euston station became London’s first intercity railway terminus when it opened in July 1837.

 

Boarding Houses

London at the time was a mix of rich and poor with the poor living in the slums. Boarding houses were common as the population was growing and the city was exploding in both size and crime. Jack the Ripper would strike only 9 years after this murder.

The scandal which followed included the coverage in the press which employed tactics that were hardly legal themselves. The trial of those suspected and accused was far from fair.

This is an interesting visit to the past and an experience of a legal trial, a murder investigation and a boarding house where nothing was as it seemed.

The time and setting are enhanced by the peppering of other scandalous stories  and newspaper headlines at the time . This was a city of immigrants – Germans, Swiss to name but two. Vagrants would spend a little time in the city before moving on. The population was transient. So too were some of the morals.  Victorian morality is a fascinating peephole to look through.

Streetview Maps

A) England - London - Euston Square
D) England - London - St Pancras Old Church

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

I’d never heard of this murder in Euston Square in London so this was a fascinating read. Imagine a body found in a cellar which has been there for two years at least? How, even in London with its slums and growing chaotic population does someone go missing without being reported? When it’s a respectable woman in a respectable boarding house, the mystery grows

The boarding house was a fascinating mix of immigrants of German and Luxembourg descent. There’s a quirky bunch living there and no one seems to have any idea of the body or who it might have been. The police are called and the trial of the century begins..

Apart from being areal life crime story, this is a fascinating look at London itself. The locations sadly are no longer there and I think there should be an old fashioned map in the book as real ones don’t show many of the actual locations! The house is now in the area of Euston Station for example.

I also enjoyed the way the main story was enhanced with stories of other scandals and historic events of the time. This is a trial narrative so could have been a bit staid, but it was an fascinating look into London Victorian society at the time.
And that poor woman in the cellar. Is the mystery finally solved? I’ll leave that up to you. For me it remains an historically complex mystery on many levels.

Booktrail Boarding Pass:  The Lady in the Cellar

Destination : London  Author/Guide: Sinclair McKay  Departure Time: 1879

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