Saturday, 6 April 2013

Murder In The Red Barn

The murder in the red barn has become a classic tale of lust and murder that is enshrined in memory as part of the old melodramas that played through out music halls for decades well into the twentieth century.  The reality was that it was a notorious murder for real. The two central characters were William Corder and Maria Marten. This story unfolded in 1827, in Polstead, Suffolk, when Corder started an affair with a young local lady, Maria Marten.  All was well until she told Corder that she was pregnant.  This put Corder in a difficult situation as he was satisfied with the affair as it was.  Maria understandably put pressure on Corder to stand by her.

    Corder put a plan into action and told Maria that he was planning a move to Ipswich for both of them to start a life togethr, and arranged for her to meet him at a barn, known as "The Red Barn" owing to a part of it`s roof being a reddish colour.  Corder moved to London, but Maria was not with him.  Letters arrived reputedly from Maria, to her family saying she was fine.  However, her body was discovered buried in the barn, and so a hunt went on for Corder.  Eventually, he was found and arrested for her murder.  Whilst in London, Corder had put a personal advert in a newspaper, and received over one hundred responses.  He married one of these women, who of course, knew nothing of his past.

    Corder was put on trial and convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  His execution took place at Bury St. Edmonds in 1828, attracting a huge crowd.  Corders body was used for medical and anatomical research, his skeleton being in medical colleges and copies made of his death mask.  The most famous TV or film version of this tale was made in 1935 with the king of the melodramas, Tod Slaughter as the wicked squire William Corder.  In actuality, Corder was not a squire but it suited Tods` portrayal perfectly.  Evidently, some scenes in it had to be cut for American audiences and British censors ordered the removal of the execution scene.  Apparently, it was filmed but left out of the finished film.