Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hampstead Heath

I did not take very many pictures on my walks around Hampstead with Millie, I was usually too busy trying to pass my stroller-pushing proficiency test to concentrate on anything else. (How I longed to have my old Silver Cross pram)

But our own little Modern Millie lives in a London flat and rides in a modern stroller. Here she is wrapped up and ready for a stroll on Hampstead Heath.

But by the time that her Grumpy and I had pushed her up Parliament Hill she had lost interest!

She did wake up in time to enjoy the ducks and geese on the pond .........
.. and was highly amused when a flock of gulls swooped in to steal all the food.
Later we went for lunch at The Magdala pub on South Hill Park. This pub hit the headlines in 1955 when Ruth Ellis shot and killed her lover, David Blakely, outside.
The bullet holes are still clearly visible in the wall.
Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in Britain. She was the 28 year-old manager of a London night club. She had a passionate and tempestuous affair with racing driver David Blakely. Believing that he was having an affair, Ruth Ellis waited outside the Magdala and shot him five times as he came out onto the pavement. She was still holding the gun when she was arrested. A jury took only 14 minutes to find her guilty of murder and she was hanged just three weeks later, on 13 June 1955. The death penalty in Britain was suspended in 1965 and abolished in 1970.

I think Millie slept through the history lesson.


  1. m.2.0 really is a little cutie. You're right about the old fashioned baby carriages (prams). They were much more comfortable for the baby and were useful for carrying stuff.

  2. They were so much easier to push too, e, especially up steep hills. The wonderful suspension did all the work.

  3. Mmm, just the sort of post I love, M - a real journey!

    I was seven at the time Ruth Ellis was hanged and my memories of that time remain vivid. I can still see the headlines on my parents' newspaper. There was a palpable sense, which one picked up from the adults, that the sentence was wrong. It definitely contributed to that shift in the national consciousness, which was already becoming ill at ease with the use of capital punishment. Not surprising, perhaps, that half a century later those bullet holes retain the power to send a chill down the spine.

    On a lighter note, prams have a particular resonance for me, as you know. My great-grandmother invented the storm flap that has kept so many generations of babies dry!

  4. I have been reading up on the Ruth Ellis story, D, and found some interesting facts. The last woman to be hanged before Ruth Ellis was a Greek Cypriot woman, Styllou Christofi who murdered her daughter-in-law. That murder took place at 11 South Hill Park, Hampstead, only yards from the spot where Ruth Ellis was to shoot David Blakely four months later.

    I have also been reading about the failed appeal to have the murder conviction reconsidered in 2003. It was rejected on the grounds that there was no plea of 'diminished responsibility' in 1955, therefore the conviction of murder was correct. I am wondering how that logic applies to national apologies for such horrors as involvement in the slave trade since those things were not illegal at the time. I'm working on this conundrum.

    As to the pram, I bless your grandmother for her inventiveness. That storm flap kept both of my children from a soaking on many occasions!

  5. Lovely photos, M. Londoners are so lucky with their parks - although I'm not sure if Hampstead Heath comes under the heading of a 'park'. Probably half the size of Exmoor or something...

  6. I am currently resesrching my late mum's family tree. Sadly I know little of her past but I do know that she lived in the same building as Styllou Christofi's family as a child although I cannot reccall whether or not she still lived there at the time of the murder which would have taken place 2 days before her 10th bday. I remember her telling me that her mum (my grandmother) got on well with Hella and her husband.


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