Thursday, 29 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 29 March

Thursday, 29 March 1928: The coroner’s inquest into Harry Pace’s death – adjourned since 16 January – finally resumes. Testimony is given by Leonard Pace (Harry’s brother), Elizabeth Porter (Harry’s mother). The inquest is then adjourned until 12 April.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 25 March

A newspaper story appears in The People, quoting Beatrice Pace and asserting that she was subjected to questionable treatment by Scotland Yard detectives while being questioned.

The article's claims are part of a series of accusations of 'third-degree' methods directed at the police in 1928.

The issue will later be discussed in Parliament.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 17 March

Saturday, 17 March, 1928: the Scotland Yard detectives, Cornish and Campion, return to London. Cornish submits a forty-nine page report to his superiors on their investigations. He concludes that Beatrice murdered Harry by deliberately putting arsenic (derived from sheep dip) into his food. His arguments in support of this claim will be intensely scrutinised during the trial. 

On the same day, an article appears in the Dean Forest Guardian with the title 'The Fetter Hill Mystery', possibly the first reference to the case under this name. 'The case', the paper notes, 'has excited tremendous interest throughout the Forest of Dean...’

Friday, 16 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 16 March -- 'gossip and rumour'

Friday, 16 March 1928: From an article appearing in the Dean Forest Guardian ('The Fetter Hill Mystery'), a reference to the work of the two detectives in the case:

‘The “Yard” men have already satisfied themselves that a good deal of what had been regarded as definite evidence amounted to nothing more than gossip and rumour, often emanating from fifth and sixth hand sources.’

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 14 March

Wednesday, 14 March 1928: Beatrice goes to Coleford and meets again with the detectives. She makes her third, and final, official statement to the police.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 11 March

Sunday, 11 March, 1928: Inspector Bent goes to Rose Cottage to request that Beatrice meet with the detectives in Coleford. Beatrice spends a long day in Coleford answering questions posed by the men from Scotland Yard. The result is her second police statement. There will later be a great deal of controversy about what happened during questioning.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 9 March -- An 'absolutely happy' marriage?

Friday, 9 March 1928: From an article printed in the Dean Forest Guardian under the title 'The Fetter Hill Mystery':

‘In an interview with a reporter after the stoppage of the funeral she said that the 18 years of their married life had been absolutely happy, and that if it had not been for personal ill-feeling on the part of certain people my husband would have been laid to rest without all this anxiety.’

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 8 March

Thursday, 8 March, 1928: Scotland Yard detectives Cornish and Campion begin interviewing various people connected to the case, beginning with members of Harry Pace’s family.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 7 March

Wednesday, 7 March, 1928: Scotland Yard informs the Gloucestershire Constabulary that a detective has been assigned to the case: Chief Inspector George Cornish. Accompanying and assisting him would be Detective Sergeant Clarence Campion. Cornish and Campion travel to Cheltenham, where they meet with the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Today in the Pace Case: 6 March

Tuesday, 6 March, 1928: The Gloucestershire Chief Constable’s office sends a telegram to Scotland Yard, requesting that detectives be sent to the Forest of Dean to investigate the circumstances of Harry Pace’s death. Telegrams are exchanged into the night.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Today in the Pace case: 5 March

Monday, 5 March, 1928: The coroner hands the forensic reports from Professor Walker Hall and Mr. Ellis to the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire. Attending a conference at Gloucestershire police headquarters in Cheltenham, Inspector Bent learns that Walker Hall’s forensic analysis, confirmed by Ellis, has concluded that Harry had died from a large dose of arsenic.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Young Beatrice Pace

Nearly all the photos of Beatrice Pace that appeared in the press in 1928 were contemporary with the events of the case.

The one exception I found was this photo, which appeared on the front page of Thomson's Weekly News and purports to show Beatrice as a young woman 'in service'. (She had spent three years in London as a teenager during the Edwardian years as a domestic servant.)

Click for larger version.

It's an interesting picture. But I have to say the cat is a rather weird touch.

I'm still trying to work out whether it's real or not.

As I have noted, it's important to consider the context in which such images appeared. Thomson's Weekly News was at the more sensationalist end of the press spectrum at this period, and it specialised in 'tragic' stories, especially those featuring women.

Here's the front page as a whole:

Click for larger version.

In the story on the left, Mrs Cissie Nellie Reene tells of the travails she had suffered due to her husband's bigamy.

As I describe in the book, the image of Beatrice as a 'tragic widow' played a significant role in defining her public persona, a role that was enabled by a popular press that focused on sensational, melodramatic and sometimes simply prurient stories of women's suffering.