Jul 07

Murder most foul

On 13 July 1912, George Smith murdered his wife Bessie while she was taking a bath at their home in Herne Bay.  He wanted to get his hands on his wife’s inheritance and for a while he almost got away with it.  After the murder George returned the bath to the shop (Adolphus Hill in the High Street) and asked for his money back.

Herne Bay artist, Peter Gander, has created the cartoon above for bayguide.  Peter graduated from Canterbury College of Art to work in London as an art director. During his commercial art career, which spans over 20 years, he lays claim to having re-designed the Monopoly logo to include ‘Mr Moneybags’; winning an advertising D&AD Yellow pencil award for Spiller’s Dog Food campaign featuring Dougal from The Magic Roundabout and having an award-winning cartoon featured on London’s Underground as well as having his humorous poetry displayed for Londoner’s by Friends of the Earth featured on London’s iconic Routemaster buses.
See Peter’s work at http://petergander.blogspot.co.uk/

One hundred years ago this month, Herne Bay was the scene of a notorious Edwardian murder which would became national news and lead to a sensational trial at the Old Bailey.

Bessie Williams was found dead in her bath at 80 High Street.  (After the street was renumbered in the 1930s the address where the murder took place became 159.) Bessie had made a will 5 days before her death in favour of her husband Henry, by which he benefited from £2579 13s and 7d (about £150,000 today).  When Bessie’s body was discovered Henry was questioned closely by the police, but the doctor who examined her convinced them of his innocence.  At the inquest Dr Frank French testified he believed Bessie had suffered an epileptic fit and the cause of her death had been asphyxia brought about by drowning.  When asked whether the death could be due to anything else Dr French replied, “I have no reason to suspect any other cause than drowning.”  The jury did not ask for a post mortem and returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

But Henry Williams was far from innocent and this was not even his real name, which was George Joseph Smith.  He had married Bessie Mundy a few months earlier with the intention of getting hold of her inheritance.  When the couple moved in the property did not have a bathroom so Henry installed a temporary bath in a spare room upstairs, which he ordered from Adolphus Hill, an ironmongers in the High Street. But he never actually paid for it and after he had murdered his wife he took it back to the shop.
Read how George was finally caught at www.bayguide.co.uk http://bayguide.co.uk/wp/index.php/the-brides-in-bath