London’s Darkest Unsolved Mysteries

10 Unsolved Mysteries of London 10 The St

Pancras Walrus London is famous for a whole host of reasons, historical and contemporary There’s Jack The Ripper, the Tower of London, the weird noses sticking out of the architecture, and of course, our rail infrastructure Perhaps one of the most famous parts of that system is King’s Cross St Pancras station, which definitely ISN’T a complete pain to traverse Absolutely not

But despite its status in London, it became a point of interest for an entirely different reason Back in 2013, during the process of upgrading the station, workers were excavating the site of St Pancras Church – a known mass grave during the height of disease in the Victorian era But there was one thing at the site that no-one was expecting: a 4m long WALRUS To this day, there’s no sufficient explanation of just how it got there

The best answer we have is that it was one of two Walruses housed at the London Zoological Gardens in the 1850s, but there’s no records and no real links There were just some Walruses there once, so your guess is as good as mine 9 The Pimlico Mystery 19th Century London was infamous for danger It was sordid, murderous, filthy, and home to endless criminal capers – though few have left so many people scratching their heads

In 1886, grocer Thomas Edwin Bartlett was found dead in suspicious circumstances in the Pimlico district of London, with a fatal quantity of chloroform in his stomach That’s a pretty cut and dry cause of death, but what’s not so clear is just HOW it got there since there was no evidence of throat damage, so swallowing was out of the question In fact, there was no clear sign at all of how the deadly substance made it into his system Bartlett’s wife Adelaide was the natural suspect and was put on trial at the behest of her disapproving father-in-law But despite initial public antipathy, the jury found Adelaide innocent since the prosecution couldn’t prove her involvement

In fact, it was such a point of confusion that acclaimed surgeon Sir James Paget famously joked: “Now that she has been acquitted for murder and cannot be tried again, she should tell us in the interest of science how she did it!” 8 The Disappearance of Elizabeth Canning Back in 1753, a young girl by the name of Elizabeth Canning became one of many to go missing – which isn’t exactly that unusual given the period She returned after a month – dirty, clothes ripped and covered in blood – and claimed that she had been forced into illicit activities by Enfield woman Mary Wells and Romany woman Mary Squires As you would expect, the claims went to trial, with Wells imprisoned and Squires put to death – and that was the end of it, except it wasn’t Not by a long shot

Once questions arose about Canning’s tale, the case was re-examined and the conviction was quashed That, uh, really sucks for Mary Squires And to accompany that, Canning herself was put on trial for lying in the original proceedings But with those claims out of the window, questions quickly turned Canning herself What exactly happened? Well the answer to that, somewhat unsatisfyingly, is that we just don’t know

I mean, that’s why it’s on the list after all 7 Jack the Ripper I mean, you knew this was coming, so let’s just get this out of the way Back in 1888, at the height of the Victorian era, the London district of Whitechapel was plagued by a series of gruesome murders The five known crimes ascribed to the killer became an endless source of fear and fascination, helped in part by the hysterical press coverage, and where fascination creeps in, theories usually aren’t far behind

Traditionally, the anatomically precise nature of the crimes has led to assumptions that the killer had medical knowledge, but that was just the beginning of the speculation All in all, more than 100 names have been linked to the Ripper, including ‘The Borough Poisoner’ George Chapman and murderous medical student Thomas Hayne Cutbush, but some more ambitious accounts have claimed that it was everyone from Prince Albert to Lewis Carroll Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even suggested that it wasn’t even a Jack, but a “Jill The Ripper”, likely a midwife who could have been seen in bloody clothes without suspicion Well, there are so many theories that at this point no one can be discounted, so answers in the comments 6

Jack The Stripper Yes, you read that right London isn’t just home to Jack the Ripper – it’s home to Jack The Stripper While that sounds like a raunchy stage persona, the reality is actually much more tragic Us Brits just have an extremely morbid sense of humour Between 1964 and 1965, six people were found dead in West London near the river Thames

Those victims were all prostitutes found stripped of their clothing, hence the nickname of the perpetrator – not to mention the term for the whole affair, “the Hammersmith Nude Murders” Despite the high profile nature of the crimes, especially since they bore so much resemblance to Jack The Ripper, there has never been a satisfactory answer to the question of who actually did it But that’s not for want of trying For example, Journalist Michael Litchfield published a book in 2017 claiming that boxing champ and Freemason Freddie Mills confessed the crimes to another mason And in 2019, criminologist David Wilson suggested that it was the handy work of child killer Harold Jones

However, this could be deemed conjecture, so the answer eludes us still 5 Lord Lucan Generally, the British Aristocracy is associated with the worst parts of our culture, like stuffy traditions, entrenched classism and subjugating overseas colonies But while that may be the case for the majority of the old money, but not for Lord Lucan Well, it probably was, but he looked kinda cool

Lucan was known for his love of the high life – y’know, all the favourites from gambling to fast cars In fact, he was actually considered for the role of the original James Bond, but apparently they dropped him for Sean Connery when they decided he didn’t sound enough like he was chewing toffee All that aside, the real story is that he disappeared in 1974 after he was accused of murdering his child’s nanny in the midsts of the custody battle as part of his divorce That’s likely to have been true though unproved, since the case never went to court And that’s where the mystery comes in, since no one ever saw the Luxury Lord again

At least, none confirmed Despite multiple presumed sightings, he was never found and declared legally dead in 1999 4 Patsy Morris Sadly, the shocking, sordid history of the UK isn’t relegated to the victorian era Even as recently as 2020, the UK has seen convictions for record-breaking crimes

And while improvements in technology have allowed police to solve FAR more crimes than two centuries prior, some still slip through the net For example, in 1980, a 14-year-old girl named Patsy Morris went missing from the west London suburb of Feltham in 1980 after she had bunked off school Two days later she was found dead near Hounslow Heath The coroner concluded that the cause of death was strangulation from her own tights, but no evidence was found In the 40 years since no one has been convicted of the crime, but it has been linked to some of Britain’s most prolific serial killers, including Levi Bellfield, Robert Black, PETER Tobin and Peter Sutcliffe – all of whom had their own varying connections to the crime, but no conclusive proof

3 Highgate Vampire The majority of this list is pretty grim – full of the kinds of true crime you’re likely to see coming to a Netflix documentary any day now But London’s mysteries aren’t all so dark and disastrous There’s plenty of room for supposedly supernatural phenomena… like the Highgate Vampire Back in the late 60s and 70s, there were rampant rumours of a creature stalking highgate cemetery, the famous resting place of such figures as Douglas Adams, Malcolm Mclaren and Karl Marx – so who knows, maybe it was the spectre of COMMUNISMMMM

Anyway, no one has ever really explained what the sightings were caused by, but that’s probably because the whole affair was overshadowed by the rivalry between magicians David Farrant and Sean Manchester – each of whom claimed to be able to destroy the spectre There were even rumours that they would meet for a ‘magicians duel’ in 1973 But that was all scuppered when Farrant was imprisoned in 1974 for damaging memorials and interfering with remains – which he blamed on Satanists While Farrant got his comeuppance, the same can’t at all be said of the “vampire”, who is apparently still at large if claims are to be believed 2

The Beast Of Sydenham Over here in the UK, we’re no stranger to beasts of mysterious provenance Whether it’s the Loch Ness Monster, The Benbecula Mermaid or – and who could forget this – your mum, there’s a rich tradition of creatures emerging, sparking intrigue, and slinking off into the wilderness One such creature supposedly hails from South East London – Sydenham to precise, hence the name, The Beast of Sydenham Back in 2005, local resident Anthony Holder was trying to call his cat after thinking it was being bothered by a fox But that quickly drew the attention of the real cat-botherer – a massive black cat, 6ft long and 3ft tall by Holder’s estimations – which pounced on him and sent him flying

Police later claimed to have seen a black cat “the size of a Labrador” roaming the area, but the case was never resolved But that said, the UK has a little bit of a tradition of losing its collective mind over big cats roaming the country Supposedly, there are more than 1,000 in the countryside, AKA enough to cover any slow news day 1 The Hanging Of Roberto Calvi On the morning of the 17th June 1982, London’s Blackfriars bridge became a scene of utter shock and chaos – and no I’m not talking about the morning commute

That day, a postal clerk came across the hanged body of one Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker dubbed “Banchiere di Dio” or “God’s Banker” on account of his close connections to the pope Calvi was found with bricks in his clothes and $15,000 in three different currencies on his person, which is, uh… pretty suspicious to say the least Now this story is far too complicated to truly cover here but suffice it to say that it’s never been solved, but it has pulled in an absurd range of explanations It’s been claimed that it was a hit job by the Freemasons, of which Calvi was a member, the mafia – of course – the British secret service and even the Papacy itself None of those claims has been ever been confirmed, but we’ve seen investigations, prosecutions and trials from the event itself right up to 2011

Still no convictions though

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