Judging from the popularity of crime series such as CSI, it seems the modern world is obsessed by murder. However, this gruesome voyeurism is nothing new as revealed in this post about ‘murder-tourism’ in Regency and Victorian England.
In 1811, a particularly ugly murder whipped up anxiety and fear in the East End of London. One night, Thomas Marr, his wife, baby and a fourteen year old apprentice were bludgeoned to death in their hosiery shop; his servant, Margaret Jewell was only saved because Marr had earlier sent her on an errand and she got lost on the way home.
But almost as bad as the murders themselves, were the sight-seers who flocked to see the scene of the crime.
It was usual at the time, to leave bodies in situ for the jury to view, whilst the inquest was held (in a nearby public house or tavern). This had the unfortunate consequence of attracting people to see the crime first hand for themselves:
“…from curiosity to examine the premises,” where they entered, “…and saw the dead bodies.” >>
Murder sight-seeing was not uncommon and indeed, some people were not above turning a profit on it. ….