Stanhoe and Barwick WI members and guests assembled at their October meeting to hear Sue Parry, who has a great interest in “True Crime”, give a presentation on “The Red Barn Murder”.
It began with a story of small village life (in Polstead in Suffolk) in the early 1800s.
Maria Marten, daughter of the village mole catcher, had a series of relationships with local young men, who fathered several children. But it was William Corder in 1827, who proposed taking Maria to Ipswich to marry her, after an assignation at the red barn in the village. Unfortunately, after an altercation en route in the village Maria died from gunshot wounds in the barn and was later found buried beneath the floor, whilst William moved to London, happily advertised for a well-off wife, and remarried.
But justice prevailed and William was brought back to Bury St Edmunds for trial and in 1827 was hanged before a large crowd, and his body was later offered for dissection.
The notoriety led to plays being performed about the murder; to pamphlets and illustrated mementoes being produced; and even to Staffordshire china figurines being constructed.
Our speaker then surprised us with an up to date and unusual ending by showing us family trees from the original Marten family and showing that she was related to Maria through lineage from Maria’s sister Anne.
It was an amazing afternoon.