Salon No.43: London Murder and Melodrama (The Theatre of Death) – Westminster Arts Library


Salon for the City is a series of events taking place in London, covering various historical and cultural topics. I attended Salon No.43: London Murder and Melodrama (The Theatre of Death), held at Westminster Arts Library. The ticket included gin, which is always a bonus.

This particular talk was delivered by actor and writer Julie Balloo, and was concerned with the murder of actor William Terriss outside the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre on 16 December, 1897. It began, appropriately enough, with a scene from a Victorian melodrama, and then went on to discuss the histories of the key players in the tragedy.

Terriss was born William Charles James Lewin on 20 February 1847. His family did not want him to become an actor, so he originally pursued a variety of different careers: he joined the Navy, became a tea planter in Bengal, and tried sheep farming in the Falklands. He also tried breeding horses in Kentucky, and married Isabel Lewis (stage name Amy Fellowes) in 1870, but he still had ambitions to go upon the stage.

During the 1870s he established his acting career and performed in many popular plays of the period. His first big role was alongside Ellen Terry and he also got on well with Henry Irving, famous actor-manager of the Lyceum. In 1885 he met actress Jessie Millward and embarked on an affair with her that lasted until his death. Terriss was liked and admired by both fellow actors and the general public: he was known to be extremely generous to the former, and was hailed as a hero by the latter when he saved some people from drowning. The New York Dramatic Mirror described Terriss as one of the most popular actors in England, second only to Henry Irving. Supposedly, Terriss was told by a palm reader that he would die a violent death; his mistress Jessie Millward also had threatening dreams.

His murderer, Richard Archer Prince, was born in the slums of Dundee and grew up in abject poverty. He loved the theatre, and had ambitions to become the ‘Terriss of Scotland’. Prince moved to London and got an agent, but never managed to gain the same level of success as his hero. Terriss had assisted the struggling young actor in finding work, but over the years Prince took to alcohol abuse and grew increasingly unstable. Terriss sent several sums of money to Prince via the Actors’ Benevolent Fund, and continued trying to find him acting work, but on one occasion when Prince was refused money from the Fund, he blamed Terriss.

Prince bought a knife from a shop on Brompton Road and headed to the Adelphi Theatre. He waited in a doorway for Prince to arrive. Jessie Millward, who was in the same play, arrived first and Prince gave her a scare. When William Terriss arrived, Prince stabbed him, twice in the back and once in the front. Terriss died shortly afterwards.

Prince loved the attention he got during his trial at the Old Bailey in 1898. He was pronounced guilty, but insane. He was sent to Broadmoor and became quite involved in the dramatic scene there, putting on plays for the inmates and acting as the conductor of the prison orchestra until his death, which occurred in 1936. An interesting footnote to the story is that the ‘Covent Garden Ghost’ is supposed to be William Terriss. The ghost haunts Covent Garden station, which sounds strange until you learn that there used to be a bakery on that site, much frequented by the actors.

Thus concluded the first half of the Salon for the City event. The second involved the performance of certain scenes from Balloo’s play Gods of the Adelphi, which were entertaining and made me want to see the full play. Another dram of gin was served, and the evening drew to a satisfying conclusion.

Lauderdale House

Lauderdale House

Lauderdale House in Waterlow Park, north London, is a place with a great deal of history. Over the last few months it has been undergoing refurbishment, and reopened this week with a ‘Lauderdale Transformed’ festival including music, play readings and family activities. I went to one of the play readings and went back to the House at the weekend to take part in one of the tours.


The house was originally built in 1582 as a private home for three-times Lord Mayor of London, Sir Richard Martin. Eventually it became the home of John Maitland, Earl of Lauderdale, who gave the house its name. Lord Lauderdale, as a key advisor to King Charles II, opened his house to him, and it became a meeting place for the King and his mistress, Nell Gwynn, and their infant son the Duke of St Albans. Samuel Pepys also visited the house on one occasion, and wrote about the visit in his diary.

'Nell Gwynn's Bath'
‘Nell Gwynn’s Bath’

Over the next few decades the house changed hands numerous times, being owned at one point by a member of the Quaker movement (John Wesley preached here in 1782) and later being used as a private boarding school. The last private owner was Sir Sidney Waterlow, another Lord Mayor of London, who gave his name to Waterlow Park. In 1889 he gave the house and grounds to the London County Council “for the enjoyment of Londoners”. The park became a public park and the House became a tearoom and park-keepers’ flats until a fire in 1963 that destroyed much of the House.

The House lay derelict for 15 years, until members of the local community established the Lauderdale House Society, the charity which now runs the House. Lauderdale House was opened in 1978 as an arts and education centre, and remains as such to this day. I took part in a tour to explore the recent renovation.


I really enjoyed my tour, which was engaging and informative. The House has been lovingly restored, with ‘Nell Gwynn’s Bath’ taking pride of place in the foyer, which is light and airy. The original stairwell pattern has been exposed, and the original wooden beams from the first house on the site – which show how the original building was smaller – are present and visible. Downstairs, there is a light-filled room that can be used for activities, while upstairs, there is a large airy room that can be used for recitals and meetings. Overlooking the park, it is rumoured to be here that Nell Gwynn dangled her young baby out of the window in order to “persuade” his father, King Charles II, to give him a dukedom. The story is apocryphal, but it’s still pretty entertaining.

Outside, it’s possible to see the original entrance to the house, and wander around the grounds and beyond, into Waterlow Park. Lauderdale House is a beautiful place in North London in which to attend a concert, enjoy an exhibition, spend time with the family or just relax with a cup of tea from the cafe.

Original door Lauderdale House from the back


Address: Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London, N6 5HG


Opening Hours: Dependent on events

Prices: Free to visit; cost for events varies


As part of the London International Mime Festival I attended a screening of the 2010 documentary Puppet at the Barbican Cinema. Made by David Soll, the film followed the New York puppeteer Dan Hurlin as he worked on his production Disfarmer, based on the life of Depression-era photographer Mike Disfarmer. I thought it was fascinating, an intriguing glimpse into how an adult puppet show is made interspersed with the history of puppetry. As someone who loves this art form I found it fascinating.

Jewellery brand of the month: Lorelai Lorelai

After a short hiatus, I’m back with another new jewellery brand of the month. This month I’ve been lusting over:


Lorelai Lorelai is run by Lorelai Halls, who describes herself on Instagram as a “jewellery designer, introvert, feminist, dreamer, lone wolf”. Her stuff is kitsch, retro and generally amazing. I’ve selected some of my favourites below.

This amazing necklace was inspired by retro foil Christmas decorations.

Engraved mirror stars statement necklace
Engraved mirror stars statement necklace

These fabulous Sixties hoops come in a variety of colours.

Sassy Sixties hoop earrings
Sassy Sixties hoop earrings

This mushroom necklace is gloriously psychedelic.

Psychedelic Halloween green and black mushroom necklace
Psychedelic Halloween green and black mushroom necklace

Cat brooches come in several different colours. They are inspired by retro kitty ornaments.

Jasmine white cat brooch
Jasmine white cat brooch

I love this cute little deer necklace.

Kitsch deer necklace
Kitsch deer necklace

Finally, this enamel pin set is super cute and will brighten up any outfit.

Deer and mushroom enamel pins
Deer and mushroom enamel pins

Check Lorelai Lorelai out at: