Sunday, 29 July 2012

Today in the Pace case: 29 July

Sunday, 29 July 1928: The fourth part of Beatrice’s serialised memoir appears in the Sunday Express, under the title 'A Talk to Wives by Mrs. Pace'.

Since I began my story in the “Sunday Express” I have had hundreds of letters from women, all of them kind, but many of them saying what amounts to this: You have had a terrible time in your married life: you have suffered terrible pain and anxiety in being accused of a murder you did not commit. Your husband treated you worse than an animal, and yet expected you to mother his children and keep his home. Why were you such a fool as to put up with it? We would not have done so for a week, let alone eighteen years. We would have run away. That is the question I have been asked, and I think I can answer it.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Today in the Pace case: 23 July 1927

Saturday, 23 July 1927: It is, of course, difficult to say when the Pace matter 'began', but a reasonable choice would be this date in the summer of 1927.

While there remained some debate about precisely what happened, it seems very likely that on this day Beatrice and Harry Pace, assisted by their children Doris and Leslie, 'dipped' several of their lambs in a small tub near the railway line that ran past their home, 'Rose Cottage'.

Sheep 'dipping' involved bathing the animals in an arsenic-rich insecticide and fungicide (powdered 'sheep dip' mixed with water) to prevent infestation.

That evening, Harry began to suffer abdominal pains so intense that he rolled around in agony on the ground, and he stayed in bed all the following day.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Today in the Pace case: 22 July

Sunday, 22 July 1928: The third part of Beatrice’s serialised memoir appears in the Sunday Express.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Today in the Pace case: 15 July

Sunday, 15 July 1928: The second part of Beatrice’s serialised memoir appears in the Sunday Express.

(Sunday Express, 15 July 1928, p. 1: Beatrice Pace, with Alice Sayes holding Jean Pace)

Monday, 9 July 2012

A lofty perspective on the Pace trial

Although I thought, at first, that they have nothing in particular to do with the Pace case (or with crime), these 1920s aerial views of London (gathered together by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) give a fascinating visual perspective on the period.

The pictures come from the project: 'Britain from Above', which I followed up on and joined (it's free).

Doing a quick search led me to photos which are relevant to the Pace case (and were even taken in the same year as the trial), such as this image of central Gloucester:

(Gloucester from the air, 1928. Source)

The Gloucester Shire Hall, where Beatrice's trial was held, is clearly visible in the lower part of the photo in the centre (other images posted on this blog of the Shire Hall are here and here):

This one is also interesting, as it shows Gloucester Prison, where Beatrice was held during the trial (the Shire Hall is now in the upper left-hand corner:

(Gloucester Prison from the air, 1928. Source.)

It was a very short distance to the Shire hall (also visible in the photo at the upper left hand), but Beatrice was ferried back and forth by car, usually to the accompaniment of raucous public demonstrations.

Today in the Pace case: 9 July

Monday, 9 July 1928: Beatrice’s Member of Parliament, A. A. Purcell, raises a series of questions in Parliament about her treatment and suggests that she should receive compensation. (Click on the link to see the original text of the parliamentary discussion.)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Today in the Pace case: 8 July

Sunday, 8 July 1928: The first part of Beatrice’s serialised memoir appears in the Sunday Express.

Sunday Express, 8 July 1928, p. 1 (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Today in the Pace case: 7 July

Saturday, 7 July 1928: The publication rights to Beatrice’s life story are sold to the Sunday Express for a substantial sum. Beatrice, accompanied by her friend Alice Sayes, departs Coleford for a holiday in Windsor.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Glimpses of the Pace trial: 6 July 1928

Concluding the series of posts on the coverage by the Daily Mirror of the Pace trial, which, on 6 July 1928 was in its fifth and final day. Its events are perhaps best summarised by considering the front page of the next day's edition of the Mirror:

Daily Mirror, 7 July 1928, p. 1. (Left: crowds greeting the acquittal in Gloucester. Upper right: Beatrice Pace. Lower right: Norman Birkett, K.C. (Beatrice's barrister) and Mr. Justice Horridge (the presiding judge).

From an editorial in the same issue:

The Strange Case of Mrs. Pace

Mrs. Pace was acquitted yesterday after an ordeal (before Coroner and Judge) that has lasted for weeks and has been watched by a huge crowd with every demonstration of intense excitement.

Our readers will have followed the evidence in our news columns; while our pictures have illustrated the accompaniment of public emotion.

We need not deny that the result will be saluted with popular approval, though it is wise always to deprecate the attempt to weigh upon cool justice by ‘taking sides’ in violent clamour.

It was obvious from the first that this woman’s tragic story had deeply impressed the crowd.

And it is indeed a pitiable thing that she should have been subjected to a preliminary torture, which seems, after the stopping of the case yesterday, to have been avoidable, as the Judge suggested.

The facts were reviewed in their first aspect, as we have said, for months. The trial suddenly ends—there is ‘no case.’ Mrs. Pace’s ordeal is over.

But what can compensate a hunted human creature for the anguish thus endured?

Evidently, some such conviction of needlessly inflicted suffering urged an emotional multitude at Gloucester to clamour, which was human enough, though deplorable as a precedent.

(Daily Mirror, 7 July 1928, p. 9)

Today in the Pace case: 6 July

Friday, 6 July 1928: The trial against Beatrice Pace suddenly ends in a directed verdict of ‘not guilty’. She leaves the court a free woman and the verdict is greeted by a large and enthusiastic crowd in Gloucester. Beatrice departs Gloucester for Coleford, where she stays at the King’s Head Hotel. In the evening, a party is held to celebrate the acquittal.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Glimpses of the Pace trial: 5 July 1928

Excerpts from the coverage in the Daily Mirror of the fourth day of the trial of Beatrice Pace for the alleged murder of her husband Harry.

Inside the courtroom:

The greater part of the morning was occupied by the evidence of cross-examination of Chief Inspector Cornish, of Scotland Yard.

Describing his interview with Mrs. Pace, the inspector said it lasted from 11.15 a.m. to 9.15 p.m., with intervals for meals. “She seemed very anxious to tell us the story of her married life, and it was an hour before we reduced a word to writing,” he said.

In the statement alleged to have been made by the widow reference was made to her unhappy married life and her husband’s cruelty.

Pace, it was stated, once tied her to the bedpost and left her like it all day.

“When he went to bed he took up a small pistol, which he put under his pillow. He came after me at two o’clock in the morning.” ... “I have been told by Chief Inspector Cornish that the organs of my husband contained arsenic and he has invited me to tell him if possible how it got there,” continued the statement. ...

“My answer is: I cannot account for it unless he has taken it himself.”

“I certainly have not given him anything other than his ordinary and proper food, and although he has been very cruel to me at times I was very devoted to him and loved him to the end.”

“He had threatened to do it. Three years ago he said he would do away with himself.” 

Outside the courtroom:

Vigorous steps were taken by the police yesterday to avoid a repetition of the disorderly scenes which have occurred daily at Gloucester since the trial of Mrs. Pace began.

Mounted policemen drove the crowd out of the road behind the court and thus left a clear passage for the taxicab in which Mrs. Pace is conveyed to and from the prison.

They could not, however, prevent a large crowd from collecting at either end of the road. People shouted hurrahs and waved handkerchiefs to Mrs. Pace.

During the interval four men who broke away from the queue were knocked down by a policeman’s horse and injured slightly.

(‘Ten Hours’ Talk with Mrs. Pace’, Daily Mirror, 6 July 1928, p. 4.)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Glimpses of the Pace trial: 4 July 1928

Excerpts from the press coverage of the third day of the trial of Beatrice Pace for the alleged murder of her husband Harry from the Daily Mirror.

One of the Pace jury members apparently began feeling the pressure:

It was after Mr. Justice Horridge announced at the trial yesterday that he must take every precaution to ensure that the jury should not be overtaxed, that it was learned that one of the two women juror s had had a bad heart attack overnight and had to be attended by a doctor.

Both women are elderly, and the strain has obviously affected their strength.

The Judge has arranged to adjourn each day for one hour at luncheon—an extended adjournment which affords the jury an opportunity of getting a little fresh air. 

Meanwhile, outside the court:

Scenes following the adjournment of the trial last night surpassed even those of the previous days.

Elaborate precautions had been taken by the police to prevent disorder, but the crowd was so large that they had the greatest difficulty controlling it.

The road at the back of the Shire Hall was dense with thousands of people. A cordon of constables who stood shoulder to shoulder and held each other’s arms was drawn across the road to act as a human barrier.

At last the road to the prison was more or less free of people and a taxi containing Mrs. Pace was allowed to come out of the Shire Hall courtyard. It appears was the signal for the crowd to burst into cheering and a cry arose, “There she is, poor woman.” 

(‘Heart Attack of Woman Juror at Pace Trial’, Daily Mirror, 5 July 1928, p. 2.)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

"A sort of excessive domestic brawl with not more than a couple of paragraphs in it."

This is something I happened to run across this week while reading through the Spectator in 1926 looking for something else altogether. 

The discussion of what makes for an interesting murder (as opposed to a 'dull murder') -- at least as far as the press was concerned -- seems relevant to the cultural context in which the Pace case would soon cause a sensation.

Though the Pace Case, of course, took place far away from the north side of the Thames.

The Topography of Crime

One day, when I was in prison, the chaplain talked to me on the topography of crime. He said: “It is a strange fact that nearly all the murders in London are committed north of the Thames.” I recalled as many murders as I could, and was astonished to discover that all those I remembered had been committed, as the chaplain asserted, above and not below the Thames. I hastily resolved to remove myself to the Surrey side of the river.

“When a murder is committed south of the Thames,” the chaplain continued, “it is nearly always a dull murder.”

I interrupted him with a literary allusion: “What Pegeen Mike in The Play-Boy of the Western World calls ‘a sneaky kind of murder.’”

“I don’t know the piece, he replied, “but the description is good, though it would be more accurate to say accidental than sneaky! What I mean is, that there is nothing sensational about murders committed south of the Thames. There isn’t an editor in London who would say “Thank you” for the murders we get. They have no news value. I mean, a husband hits his wife harder than he meant to and kills her. That’s the kind of murder that is committed south of the Thames.”

“A sort of excessive domestic brawl,” I suggested, “with not more than a couple of paragraphs in it.”


“How do you explain the fact?” I asked.

“I don’t,” he replied. “I merely state it. One can account for the fact that nearly all the sensational company-promoting crimes are committed north of the Thames. If a financier starts to go wrong he has to do it in the City, and the City is north of the river. But no one can account for the fact that the more imaginative and sensational murderers commit their crimes above the Thames. Interesting financial criminals are sent first to Wormwood Scrubs from the Old Bailey. 

I remember being told by an officer at the Scrubs that three of the most accomplished scoundrels in the world of high finance were in the prison at one time! Three of them at once! Most interesting! I should say that the level of crooked intelligence at Wormwood Scrubs is very high, but south of the river, at Wandsworth, say, the general level of crooked intelligence is low. North of the Thames you get good poisoning cases or crimes of passion—all guaranteed to fill columns of the newspapers for days at a time; but south of the Thames you seldom get any but mean, uninteresting felonies: wife-beating, house-breaking, unpremeditated murder that is really manslaughter or aggravated assault, and any amount of petty larceny. The Bywaters and Mrs. Thompsons, the Seddons, the Crippens, all of them either inhabit the northern suburbs or commit their crimes there.”

I thought the chaplain spoke with some feeling, as if he resented the habit sensational murderers had of working outside, so to speak, his jurisdiction. There he was, incessantly toiling for long hours every day, among prisoners, not one of whom could provide him with an interesting passage for his reminiscences of prison life. His colleagues on the north of the Thames had all the luck.

By St. John Ervine, Spectator, 13 November 1926, p. 851.

Glimpses of the Pace trial: 3 July 1928

Press coverage of the second day of the trial of Beatrice Pace for the alleged murder of her husband Harry from the Daily Mirror.

A short excerpt from the cross-examination of Harry Pace’s brother Elton by Beatrice’s barrister, Norman Birkett:

Mr Birkett...: You have told us that you are on friendly terms with the prisoner, your sister-in-law. Is that true or is it a lie?—It is true.

Four years ago did Mrs. Pace forbid you to come to the house?—She told me that very often, but I did not mind it.

Did she tell you you were a bully?—Yes, but we made it up. She asked me to be friendly.

I suggest that that is a deliberate untruth?—It is not. ...

Counsel: Did you tell your brother that his wife was calling him names?—Certainly not. He would have gone about my neck, that he would.

He was very fond of his wife?—He was overseeing in her.

Do you mean that he was seeing in her what was not there? (Loud laughter.)

The Judge (sternly): I will not have this silly laughter in this court. This is not a laughing matter, and if I hear any more of it I shall order those who laugh to be turned out of the court. Those who laugh here should be ashamed of themselves for being such idiots as to laugh.

Counsel: Do you mean that your brother was devoted to the prisoner?—he could see no fault in her.

(‘”Ordered” From Pace’s House’, Daily Mirror, 4 July 1928, p. 4.)

The scene outside the courtroom: 3 July 1928

A scene from the opening of the Pace trial, Gloucester, 3 July 1928:

Daily Sketch, 3 July 1928, p. 1

Monday, 2 July 2012

Glimpses of the Pace trial: 2 July 1928

Excerpts from the coverage of the first day of the trial of Beatrice Pace for the alleged murder of her husband Harry from the Daily Mirror.

Inside the courtroom:

As the clerk read the charge to the jury Mrs. Pace began to weep softly, and the Judge gave permission for her to be seated. Thus began the final act in the drama that commenced last January with the death of Harry Pace, who was a Forest of Dean sheep farmer, and the stopping of the funeral by the coroner.

The most poignant incident yesterday was the giving of evidence by Mrs. Pace’s nine-year-old son Leslie. The boy smiled brightly at his mother, who burst into tears. “Do you love your mum?” asked Mr. Birkett, the leading counsel for Mrs. Pace. “Yes,” answered the boy emphatically. “Has she looked after you well?”—“Yes.” 

Outside the courtroom:

When the police attempted to smuggle Mrs. Pace out of a back exit she was surrounded by hundreds of cheering people, and it was with difficulty that her taxi was able to move off.

Later an hotel to which the Pace children had been taken was besieged, and the crowd would not disperse till the children had shown themselves. An attempt to mob the car was foiled by the mounted police. 

(‘Pace Children Besieged in Gloucester Hotel’, Daily Mirror, 3 July 1928, p. 3)

Today in the Pace case: 2 July

Monday, 2 July 1928: At the Shire Hall in Gloucester, Beatrice’s trial for murder (Rex v. Beatrice Annie Pace) begins.
The Gloucester Shire Hall, 2010 (Photo by J. C. Wood)