Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast #54 - The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place - Part Seven (Kathleen Madeleine Maloney)
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Welcome to the Murder Mile true-crime podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, set within one square mile of the West End.
Episode Fifty-Four: On an unspecified date in January 1953, 26 year old Kathleen Madeleine Maloney, an orphan, alcoholic and full-times prostitute went missing from the Paddington area. She was never reported missing. And yet she would be the seventh victim of British serial killer John Reginald Halliday Christie.
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Ep54 - The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place – Part Seven (Kathleen Maloney)
INTRO: Law. A system of rules implemented by a government to ensure the people adhere to the will of the state, by shaping what is good or bad, defining what is right or wrong, and with any infractions judged by a randomly selected jury of their peers in a trial which is unbiased, impartial and fair. But the law is not infallible. It’s only as accurate as the evidence it is presented, so mistakes are made.
On 9th March 1950 in Pentonville Prison, 24 year old Timothy John Evans, a semi-literate and easily-led fantasist was executed having confessed to the murder of his wife and child – a crime he did not commit. With the real culprit in court, posing as the prosecution’s chief witness (even though he had already murdered five women, including his own wife), the jury unwittingly let a guilty man walk free.
It seemed clear-cut, as from the day of Beryl’s murder to the morning of Tim’s execution, the whole case was wrapped up in just four months. Three years later, having realised that an innocent man had been executed, the case of Timothy John Evans would send shockwaves through the establishment, rewrite law and bring an end to the death penalty – but by then, three more women would be dead.
Some of what follows is based on the killer’s own memories and perspective; so what part of this story is true… is up to you. My name is Michael. I am your tour-guide. This is Murder Mile. And I present to you; part seven of the full, true and untold story of The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place.
SCRIPT: Today, I’m standing on Praed Street, W2; three streets west of the failed assassination attempt of former Iraqi Prime Minister Abd 0061r-Razzaq Said al-Naif, two streets north of the homes of Kathryn Mulcahy and Doris Jounette (the last victims of infamous The Blackout Ripper) and a short dawdle from Paddington Station where Timothy Evans caught a late-night train to Merthyr Vale, having hastily erased any evidence of his wife’s murder and all at her real killer’s command.
Like most train stations, Paddington is an area synonymous with pubs and prostitution; where pissed-up losers pump their pin-sized peckers against a disinterested sex-workers derriere, sad-gits in flashing macks pay to have their limp love-length tugged-at like a bored housewife fishing a soggy noodle out of a stinky sink and where hard-up rent-boys receive a mouthful of unwashed manhood from a happily married man who accidentally slipped whilst weeing against a wall. And that’s the truth, officer.
Sadly demolished, one such pub frequented by prostitutes and punters alike was The Great Western at 31 Praed Street; a three-storey, brown-brick, corner-facing, classic British boozer; with a ceiling slathered thick with tobacco tar, carpets sticky with spilled ale and the air foul with the funk of fifty farts, in a stiflingly small bar comprising of six bar stools of varying wobble, four types of beer (warm, wet, thick or strong), two flavours of crisps (salty or bland), one form of greeting (surly) and a urinal floor so deep in badly aimed man-widdle, that wellies were a must.
And yet, it was here, sometime during the bleak winter of 1952/53, being unfettered and free having murdered his wife, that Reg Christie would meet Kathleen Maloney; an unfortunate woman who life had forgotten, but whose name would be remembered forever. (Interstitial)
On 14th January 1950, in Court One of the Old Bailey, (Mr Justice Lewis) “Timothy John Evans, you have been found guilty of murder, do you have anything to say before I pass sentence?” Looking tiny and frightened, standing alone, Tim said nothing, his simple brain too slow to comprehend his fate as the judge donned the infamous black cloth. But as the trembling man was led away to the cells, in a last-ditch attempt to clear his name, he shouted these eponymous words which would reverberate across the court and the country for decades to come - “Christie done it… I’m telling you, Christie done it”.
Tim’s cries fell on deaf ears, as across the five-day trial, the credibility and criminal record of John Reginald Halliday Christie had come into question. And having sowed the seeds of doubt over Tim’s guilt, the defence barrister Mr Malcolm Morris had boldly stated “Well, Mr Christie, I have got to suggest to you, and I don’t want there to be any misapprehension about it, that you are responsible for the death of Mrs Evans and the little girl; if that is not so, that you very much know more about the death than you have said”, openly accusing the decorated war-hero and former special constable of being an abortionist and a child-murderer. To which Christie indignantly whispered “that is a lie”.
Malcolm Morris had got nearer to the truth than anyone else; Reg knew it, Ethel knew it and Tim’s mum knew it. Shortly after sentencing, Thomasina Probert accosted Reg Christie in the hallway of The Old Bailey and screamed at the top of her lungs “Murderer! Murderer”, and in an ironic twist of fate, the one person who sprang to his defence was Ethel Christie who shouted “Don’t call my husband a murderer. He’s a good man”. Less than two years later, this “good man” would murder Ethel.
Christmas 1952 was a very lonely affair for the recently widowed Reg, with no tree, no tinsel, no family and no presents. 10 Rillington Place was deathly quiet. And as a bitter icy wind whipped through the cracked bricks and rattled the loose floorboards, Reg sat alone, in front of an unlit fire, in the sparsely furnished front-room; supping a hot tea, sniffling into a hanky and sucking on a lozenge from a small tin box of Lewis & Burrows ‘Gees Linctus’ Pastilles having caught a cold. His only companion was his mongrel dog Judy, his only entertainment; a brown suitcase full of photos, cuttings and knickknacks.
(Ethel’s echo) “Don’t call my husband a murderer. He’s a good man”.
As loneliness crept in, Reg busied himself with daily household chores like burning rubbish in the back garden, selling off the furniture, pawning Ethel’s possessions, washing the floorboards with a strong disinfectant, tipping buckets of bleach down the drains and sprinkling floral cleaning fluid in front of his bay-window, to eradicate a feted pungent aroma which he blamed on dog poo, damp and dirty water.
And as Ethel’s bloated body slowly rotted right underneath his feet, having lied to Lily that her sister’s rheumatism was too bad to write her a card so she would recuperate in London over Christmas, on that same day, over the short garden wall of 9 and 10 Rillington Place, Reg waved what Rosina Swan thought was a telegram, supposedly from Ethel; it read “Arrived safely in Sheffield, love to Rosie”.
At which, Reg laughed and in a hauntingly dark jibe, he quipped “I will have to choke her off for sending love to you and not me”, all said as he stood several feet from the infamous washhouse, Ethel’s strangled body under the floorboards and the two shallow graves undiscovered for almost a decade.
That Christmas Day, feeling sorry for the aging ailing man who was too ill to work, too feeble to cook and too poor to light a fire, in a gesture of kindness, Louisa & John Gregg and their aunt Rosina Swan invited this lonely man round to 9 Rillington Place, where they drank, sang and made-merry…
…but as his loneliness grew and his dark urges stirred, having already got away with five murders and with no-one to stop him, somewhere in London, three more victims awaited Reg Christie. (Interstitial)
Kathleen Madeleine Maloney was born in the industrial port city of Plymouth on the 19th August 1926. Originally from Ireland, her father Daniel scraped-by collecting the city’s scraps as a rag-and-bone man; foraging for metal to sell, cloth to sew into clothes and bits of wood to burn, as mother Lily, older sister Lillian, step sister Edith and Kathleen the youngest, survived in a hand-to-mouth existence.
Raised in a squalid tumbledown dock-worker’s cottage at 112 King Street; with four struggling families squeezed into just two floors with no electricity, gas or running water; just rats, lice and a leaky roof, although she grew-up in the supposed glitz and glamour of the Roaring Twenties, Kathleen resembled a ragged urchin from a damp Victorian slum, with bare feet, matted hair, dirty skin and an empty belly. And being burdened by a plump round face, bad teeth and a crooked eye, she was mercilessly bullied.
In her hard, short and troubled life; so vague are the details that many remain a mystery, so chaotic was her way of living that her last movements are unknown, and so forgotten would she become that we don’t even know on what day she died, but as a ragged and starving child struggling in the dockside slums of Plymouth, for Kathleen Maloney, these would be the best days of her life.
In 1931, two years after the economic collapse of the Wall Street Crash which plunged the world into financial meltdown, as if the struggle of a hungry, bullied and emaciated child wasn’t tough enough, when Kathleen was only five years old, in the same year, her father died… and then her mother died.
As three young siblings; Kathleen, Ethel and Lillian were briefly taken-in by their Aunt Emily who lived one door away at 110 King Street, but as a starving mother herself who struggled to keep the unruly girl on the straight-and-narrow, two years later, having been separated from Edith, Lillian and Kathleen were sent to St Nazareth’s on Plymouth’s Durnford Street; a strict Catholic orphanage where –- being cruelly split-up from her big sister - she lost contact with Lillian too.
She was a lonely, scared eight year old and this would be her life for the next decade.
With no family, no friends and no role-models; only bellowing priests with scornful eyes, furious nuns with unholy tempers and older girls with bad habits, feeling utterly worthless, Kathleen rebelled and was regularly beaten with a cane on the hands, the bottom and the back for minor misdemeanours like smoking, swearing, theft and fraternising with boys. But with the beatings being no deterrent to a tough little girl with no hope, having started small, her criminal career had nowhere to go but up.
Aged fourteen, with war declared and St Nazareth’s evacuated for fear of being bombed, Kathleen and the other girls were billeted ten miles away in Elfordleigh; a grand country-club on 223 acres of land in the picturesque Devonshire countryside. Her stay should have given this ragged orphan a brief glimpse at a better life, but with the building having been requisitioned for the war effort, in the spring of 1944, Elfordleigh would become home to (not only) eighty lonely and hormonal girls from the local convent… but (in preparation for the D-Day Landings) a regiment of the Royal Marines.
It seemed like an easy solution to a persistent problem, as all she had to do was kiss, cuddle and flirt with the over-amorous soldiers to be blessed with everything she ever wanted; like alcohol, chocolate and attention, but soon, as shillings were traded for sex, although it seemed like harmless fun, this first foray into the sex-trade would lead Kathleen down the path to misery, poverty and death.
On the 19th August 1944, her 18th birthday, having been arrested for fraternising with a black American GI, Kathleen was sent to the much harsher Convent of the Good Shepherd in nearby Saltash, and although even they couldn’t tame her wild ways, just a few months later, as the Plymouth Probation Service transferred her back by train to St Nazareth’s, Kathleen absconded.
With no job, no skills and no money, having hitchhiked the 200 miles to London and with her only means of support by selling her body on the streets, Kathleen Maloney began her short hard life as a prostitute – a dangerous profession where – in The Great Western pub at 31 Praed Street – she would pick-up all manner of drunk, druggie, pervert, sex-pest… and murderer (Interstitial)
Except, as a deeply moral, honest and teetotal man, who never frequented pubs and never fraternised with prostitutes, there is simply no-way that Kathleen and Reg could ever have met…
(Christie) “One evening I went up to Ladbroke Grove to get some fish and chips. On the way back, a drunken woman demanded a pound for me to take her round the corner. I said “I’m not interested”. I’m not like that. I haven’t had any intercourse with any women for over two years. She demanded thirty shillings and said she would scream that I had interfered with her if I didn’t give it to her. I walked away but she came right to my door and when I opened it, she forced her way in…”
…and that was the truth, according to Reg.
The last seven years of Kathleen Maloney’s life are a mystery. As being a forgotten woman who had nothing; having no will, no known next-of-kin and never being listed as missing, from her late teens to early twenties, the last pieces of her life are picked from a series of shambolic statements by casual acquaintances, extracts from her criminal record and a few fragments found in an orphanage.
On 19th January 1945 at Bow Street Magistrates Court, Kathleen was found guilty of wandering abroad. Her crime? Being homeless. She was bound-over for two years and fined £5 which she couldn’t afford. Eight weeks later, being in breach her probation having slept in a doorway, she was sentenced to three months in Holloway Prison, where (for once) she had a bed, hot meals, clean clothes and medical care for her and her unborn baby. But having served her time, she was booted-out back onto the street.
Fleeing to the port city of Southampton, where the baby’s father (an unnamed Norwegian seaman) was based, Kathleen gave birth to a baby boy called Danny, and trying to be a good mum, she shared a small lodging at 33 Russell Street with her friend Sylvia Sowerby and started work as a cleaner.
But as a hopeless alcoholic with a coarse tongue, a fierce temper and a history of violence, unable to function unless she was soused in red wine, as she drifted back into sex-work, two year old Danny was taken into care, and over the next seven years, her baby boy would be joined by four more.
Trapped in a vicious circle of drink and sex, as her criminal record expanded, her life collapsed; April 45, a public order offence for receiving stolen goods. February 46, one month in prison for “lodging in an outhouse in a condition likely to cause infection” having slept in a public toilet. November 48, one month in prison for being drunk and disorderly. April 49, three months prison for assaulting a police officer. July 49, one month for indecency. February 50, two months for prostitution. September 50, two months for theft. February 52, one month for drunkenness and obscenity. And December 52, she spent a further fourteen days in prison and was fined £2 for being drunk and disorderly.
By Christmas 1952, after seven years on the streets, fourteen and a half months in prison and as a homeless penniless alcoholic who was four months pregnant with her sixth child; with cold cramping her hands, hunger growling in her gut and her shoes sodden as an icy wind blew down Praed Street, twenty-five year old Kathleen staggered into The Great Western pub to pick-up a punter.
In need of just the basics to survive a single night in a bitter British winter; such as a bed, a bite to eat and some booze, she didn’t care who he was, where they went, or what he wanted. (Interstitial)
(Christie) “When I opened the door she forced her way in to the kitchen, she was still on about those thirty shillings. I tried to get her out and she picked up a frying pan to hit me. There was a struggle and she fell back on the deck-chair. There was a piece of rope hanging from it. I don’t remember what happened but I must have gone haywire. The next thing I remember she was lying still with the rope around her neck”.
Kathleen lived from day-to-day, hand-to-mouth and bed-to-bed; with no home, money or hope, just the clothes on her back, the shoes on her feet and the baby in her belly, having sex with any man just so she had a warm bed to sleep.
As one of hundreds of prostitutes in the Paddington area, Kathleen (known as “Kay” or “Maloney”) picked-up punters in the local pubs; The Cider House on Harrow Road (where she washed in the sink), The Westminster Arms on Praed Street (where she had worked as a cleaner), The Mitre in Marble Arch (where the landlord paid one of her fines) and The King’s Arms on the Edgware Road, where she met a twenty year old girl called Maureen Mary Ann Riggs; an orphan who had absconded from a convent, served prison time, worked as a part-time waitress and prostitute and was known locally as “Edgware Road Jacky”. And so, finding their kindred spirit, Jacky and Kathleen became practically inseparable.
On an unspecified date, sometime in October 1952, two months before Reg was allegedly accosted by a drunken Irish woman whilst buying fish & chips in Ladbroke Grove, Jacky & Kathleen met a man in The Great Western pub at 31 Praed Street. As a regular customer, the sex-workers said he was polite, friendly, paid well and - apart from occasional bouts of erectile dysfunction – he was no bother.
As an odd little man; who was short, scrawny, balding and bespectacled, wearing a badly crumpled suit, thick-lensed spectacles and false teeth which slipped when he smiled, he didn’t look sinister, he looked silly. And as an ex-Special Constable “commended twice”, a war hero “awarded the British War & Victory Medal” and a grieving widower whose beloved wife of “thirty-two years to be precise” had recently died (even though, at that point, Ethel wasn’t dead), the locals knew him as “John” and “Chris” (Christie) “But I prefer it if you call me Reg”. Except, next time they met, he said his name was “Frank”.
As a good natured drunk, who danced badly and sang loudly, Kathleen would talk to anyone, especially if they brought her a drink. So having splashed out on a Scotch for Jacky, a red wine for Kathleen and a half pint for himself, Reg made them an offer, all the while, his eyes wide as he licked his lips.
Three weeks before Christmas and one week before Ethel’s death, in an unspecified top-floor flat off Marylebone Lane, which had been rigged-up like a photography studio, Kathleen and Jacky posed for Reg. Sometimes they were clothed, semi-clad or nude. Sometimes they were seated and spread, bent over and open. Sometimes they were alone, together or posed with Reg; his scrawny white body perched behind Jacky, his penis erect, as he pretended to penetrate her from behind.
Having dressed, Jacky & Kathleen asked for the fifty shillings each (roughly £75 today) he had agreed to pay them, but Reg was broke. As the two girls became enraged, spinning a merry tale, he handed them twenty shillings-a-piece and promised a cut of the profits once the photos had been sold. But the photos were never seen, the girls were never paid and four weeks later, Kathleen would be dead.
Exactly when she was murdered we may never know; Christie stated he last saw her in October 1952, Jacky on New Year’s Day 1953, with various sources stating she was last alive anywhere between 19th January, mid-to-late February, or even as late as early March 1953, but having never been reported as missing, the last reliable sighting of Kathleen Maloney alive is this.
On an unspecified date; which was either “a week”, “ten days” or “at least two weeks” after Christmas 1952, a thirty-five year old sex-worker, separated mother-of-two and a part-time cleaner of the Red Lion pub called Catherine Struthers, who went by the alias of “Kitty Foley”, met Kathleen Maloney in The Westminster Arms at 11 Praed Street, a few doors down from The Great Western.
Described as five foot three inches tall, with dyed blonde hair and dark streaks, a stocky figure, a plump face, bad teeth and a crooked eye, who wore a familiar thick black coat, a white cotton cardigan and a black shirt, having been friends for a few months, there is no denying that the woman Kitty met was Kathleen. This sighting was confirmed by Augustine Murray, barman of The Westminster Arms.
At 5:30pm, Reg Christie; a semi-regular customer at the pub with an easily identifiable look, manner and voice, sat by the fire, laughed with the ladies and bought them both a bottle of Stingo (a very strong Yorkshire beer). To Kitty, it was clear that Kathleen liked Reg, trusted him and pitied the recent widower who offered her a few shillings, a bed for the night and some of his dead wife’s clothes.
And although Reg sniffled, being burdened by a winter cold, Kitty had no reason to be suspicious. He seemed like a sweet old man who listened politely, talked quietly and kindly offered them a menthol sweet from a small box of Lewis & Burrows “Gees Linctus” Pastilles, which kept in his pocket.
At roughly 9 or 10pm, with Kathleen having knocked-back eight pints of Slingo, being unsteady on her feet, cheerfully singing and feeling a tad peckish, Kathleen and Reg left The Westminster Arms and hopped on the No27 bus to Notting Hill. That was the last confirmed sighting of Kathleen Maloney.
So, exactly what happened next is a mystery.
None of the neighbours saw Reg or Kathleen walk into Rillington Place. None of the tenants heard any shouting coming from the ground-floor flat. And with the Police choosing to ignore Tim’s claim that “Christie done it… I’m telling you, Christie done it”, believing the right man had been executed, there was no surveillance or further investigation into the life of John Reginald Halliday Christie.
Why she went with Reg, we shall never know? Maybe being hungry, the lure of a free meal (of potato, peas and carrots) was too great? Maybe being cold, a set of second hand clothes was too tempting? Maybe being four months pregnant, he enticed her in with the promise of a cheap (but not entirely risk-free) abortion? Or maybe, being homeless, what she wanted was just a warm bed on a cold night?
Having stated that she had assaulted him, Christie would later claim: “She wanted me to be intimate with her and started taking things off. I said no, I don’t do that sort of thing. I tried to stop her. She was very repulsive and I wanted her out of my house. I don’t remember what happened, everything sort of went haywire, but I remember thinking, ‘Alright… if ever a woman deserves to die, you do”.
Being only small yet heavily intoxicated to the point where she could barely stand, although she was trusting, defenceless and had a blood alcohol level of 0.24 (three times over the drink drive limit), fearing she would fight back, Reg incapacitated her even further.
With the semi-conscious malnourished girl slumped in the deck-chair, having switched off the kitchen stove, opened the side window a crack and removed the square glass jar, with the long rubber hose trailing under her seat, he unplugged the bulldog clip and let the gas drift up.
Unlike Beryl and Muriel, who had willingly inhaled the gas (to clear her catarrh and as an anaesthetic for an abortion), Kathleen was too drunk to even realise, and as the invisible odourless gas rendered her unconscious, as the Carbon Monoxide in her lungs reached a lethal level, only then, did Reg pull a pillowcase over her face, and with both hands gripped taut, he strangled her with a black stocking.
(Christie’s whisper) “After that I believe I made a cup of tea and went to bed”.
In his many statements, Christie would deny that any sex took place between himself and this drunken woman that he found so repulsive, and although sperm was found in her vagina, it’s impossible to confirm if the intercourse occurred when she was alive or dead.
(Christie) “I got up in the morning, went into the kitchen, I washed, shaved and she was still in the deck-chair, a pillowcase on her head and a stocking around her neck. I believe I then made some tea”.
Having wrapped her body in a flannelette blanket, tied her ankles with a sock and stripped her body bare of everything except for a white cotton cardigan, (as he had done with Ethel) he stuffed a white cotton vest between her legs like a makeshift nappy, but no-one knows why. And then..,
(Christie) “I pulled away a small cupboard and gained access to the kitchen alcove. I knew it was there because a pipe burst in the frosty weather. I must have put her in there. I don’t remember doing it”.
And there she remained, raped and strangled, curled-up in the foetal position, in a dirty unused alcove in Reg Christie’s kitchen. With no missing person’s report and no investigation into her disappearance, twenty-four year old Kathleen Madeleine Maloney, the cruelly orphaned girl, was as forgotten in life as she was in death. The next time her step-sister Edith would see her was in a newspaper obituary.
Although it’s unclear when she was murdered, one thing we know for certain; when the Police opened the alcove, they found three bodies, not one, and with Kathleen being in the middle, by the time of her death, Christie had already killed another woman and there was one more still to come.
Once again, John Reginald Halliday Christie had got away with murder; and with two bodies in the back garden, two in a grave, one under the floor, two in the alcove and one executed for his crimes, he believed he had fooled everyone… but something from his past would come back to haunt him.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
If you enjoyed parts one to seven of this ten part series, part eight of The Other Side of 10 Rillington Place continues next Thursday, with an omnibus edition once it’s finished. And for any murky milers, stay tuned for the chatty farty burpy mouth squits after the break, but before that, here’s my recommended podcasts of the week; which are One Eye Open and American Slacker. (PLAY PROMO)
Some lovely thank you’s this week; firstly to Danielle Toogood who’s become a much-loved Patreon supporter, so thank you Danielle, I hope you enjoyed hearing this episode and knowing it’s not officially released for another couple of days. No spoilers. A big thank you to Helen O’Brien who very kindly sent a donation to Keep Murder Mile alive… or full of cake, I’m unsure if there’s a difference, so thank you Helen. And it was lovely to meet Murder Mile listeners on a recent-ish Murder Mile Walk; they were Des & Collette Arthur (thanks for the Tunnocks and tea, very yummy indeed), as well as “king of the ticket refunds” Tom Hughes, with Lara Epsley and eek, the other lady whose name I forgot, but then I did say that I struggle to remember more than four names, anyway thank you for the pint.
If you want to book onto a Murder Mile Walk, you can do it through my website, on it you’ll hear loads of stories you will never hear on the podcast, I’ll show you some familiar podcast sights, we’ll probably be accosted by a crack-addict, and then, afterwards, you can treat your loved one to a Murder Mile mug which I can deliver to you on the tour. Don’t forget, Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away.
Murder Mile was researched, written and performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
Credits: The Murder Mile true-crime podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed by various artists, as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0. A list of tracks used and the links are listed on the relevant transcript blog here
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British podcast Awards 2018", and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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