David Attenborough And The Riddle Of The Victorian Skull

By M@ Last edited 155 months ago

Last Updated 06 July 2011

David Attenborough And The Riddle Of The Victorian Skull

A skull found in the garden of Sir David Attenborough has been identified as a Victorian murder victim.

The human remains were uncovered last year during construction work at the broadcaster's home in Richmond. Forensics evidence has now tied the skull to one of the most gruesome murder cases in London's history.

The foul deed took place in 1879 during an argument between Julia Martha Thomas and her maid Kate Webster. According to court reports of the time, the inebriated servant pushed her mistress down a flight of stairs before strangling her to death. Webster cut up the body with 'a meat saw, a razor and a kitchen knife' before boiling the remains. Then came the gruesome part. The fat was served to local children as 'pig's lard'. The body parts were stuffed into a case and thrown into the Thames. The unspeakable package later washed up at Barnes Bridge and was described as 'a mass of white flesh'.

The head would not fit into the box and its location has remained a puzzle. 132 years later and the so-called Barnes Mystery has finally been resolved thanks to the wonders of modern forensics and  the home improvements of one of Britain's best-loved broadcasters.