Historical Radlett murder case is re-enacted

AN actor from St Albans was recently involved in the re-enactment of an inquest into a gruesome 1823 slaying known as both the Radlett and Elstree murder.

Andrew Emerson was with actors from across Herts who were brought together for the project, a pilot scheme run by the University of Hertfordshire to promote the historic use of pubs.

The university is keen to raise interest within St Albans, and for old pubs to offer to host a re-enactment of an 18th or 19th Century trial.

Andrew joined professional cast Twisted Events Presents theatre company at a pub in the county to play out one of the most infamous murder cases of the 19th Century.

The victim, solicitor and gambler William Weare, was killed in Radlett and his body disposed of in a pond in Elstree.

His killer was John Thurtell, a sports promoter and son of the Mayor of Norwich.

The re-enactment was held to highlight the traditional use of public houses to host inquests, with the 75-strong audience roped in as jurors.

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Andrew said: “There are a lot of local pubs which would be fantastic settings for these re-enactments.

“The Thurtell murder case became a huge media sensation. It was known as both the Radlett murder, as it happened there, and the Elstree murder, as this was where the body was found.

“The eyes of the nation were on Herts as this was such a gory murder. Plays were written about the murder before the trial had even taken place.”

The project is a collaboration between the university and Twisted Events.

Owen Davies, Professor of Social History at the university, said pubs across Herts were used extensively to hold petty sessions, the forerunner of magistrates’ courts, and coroners’ inquests.

“As well as increasing people’s interest in the history of Hertfordshire, we also want to try and reinstate the pub as a social centre – this being a pilot, we hope to roll the project out and uncover more local history.”

Together with researching and writing the live productions, researchers extensively delved into county pub trials, and cross-referenced them against today’s public houses.

For more information on the project, or any pub interested in hosting a historical re-enactment, contact business development coordinator Rubina Menghrani at the university: r.menghrani@herts.ac.uk