A killer’s lot: Doctor Crippen mementoes go on sale

A chilling collection of personal items belonging to Dr Hawley Crippen
A chilling collection of personal items belonging to Dr Hawley Crippen

A gruesome hoard of mementos belonging to a notorious murderer are expected to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.

Dr Hawley Crippen was hanged for poisoning his wife Cora in 1910 after a trial at the Old Bailey which captivated the public.

Dr Crippen

Dr Crippen

The homeopathic practitioner was arrested as he tried to flee the UK with his mistress Ethel Le Neve, who had disguised herself as a young boy for the journey.

And seven lots of his personal possessions are expected to fetch up to £10,000 when they are sold by J P Humbert Auctioneers in Towcester, which has sold items owned by other notorious criminals including the Kray twins, and Charles Bronson.

American Dr Crippen famously made a fortune peddling potions - which were usually nothing more than sugar and alcohol - to a gullible public towards the end of the 19th century.

A collection of Crippen items were all recovered from his old work address in New Oxford Street, London, by police over 100 year ago.

But up until now they have been kept in private collection of an unnamed vendor, who has decided to sell them publicly for the first time.

Bottles of poisons, quack making machines and even a brooch belonging to his murdered wife have been found and will go under the hammer next Wednesday.

The famous spectacles Dr Crippen is often pictured wearing in grainy black and white Edwardian photographs will also form part of the sale alongside some of his pill crushers.

Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said: “The items were removed from Crippen’s work address at Albion House, New Oxford Street, where he was medical advisor to a dental practice.

“It was here that he ordered five grains of the poison Hyoscine from a nearby chemist, which it is said he used to kill his wife.

“They were removed by the private vendor’s grandfather when he was asked to clear Crippen’s home and the items have remained in his family ever since.

“The fact that we have a bottle which actually has the word ‘poison’ written on and we have his spectacles, are both just quintessential Crippen items and that is very exciting.

“You can’t tell the story of Dr Crippen without either of those things, he wears those glasses in every picture you see of him.

“We are expecting international interest in these items.

“‘Whilst crime does not pay, people are paying large sums of money for crime related items.”

Dr Cripppen was said to have murdered his wife after a party at their home on January 31, 1910.

He was interviewed by Scotland Yard and his house was searched, but they could not find anything.

The doctor first said his wife had died, but then claimed she had run away, but he had been too embarrassed to admit it before.

Scotland Yard seemed satisfied Dr Crippen’s version of events, but he still fled to Brussels with a young typist called Ethel Le Neve.

He then boarded a ferry for Canada with Le Neve disguised as a boy, but the ship’s Captain Henry George Kendall recognised the fugitives.

The captain then sent a wireless telegram to the British police and the pair were arrested as the boat docked in North America.

It was the first time telegraphy had been used in such a way.

Police had carried out several more searches after Crippen left the country and found the remains of Cora’s body buried under the brick floor of the basement.

The corpse was said to have contained the poison Hyoscine, which he had bought at a local chemist before the murder.

Dr Crippen went on trial at the Old Bailey in October 1910 and was found guilty of his wife’s murder by a jury after just 27 minutes of deliberation.

He was hanged at Pentonville Prison in London on November 23, 1910 and buried in the jail’s grounds.

Dr Crippen is known as one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century because he was the first to be apprehended through the use of transatlantic radio.

The mild-mannered murderer became a national celebrity and his waxwork stands in Madame Tussauds to this day.

If he had committed the crime a year earlier before Italian Guglielmo Marconi’s pioneering long-distance radio breakthrough then he would have escaped capture.

In 2011 it was claimed that Crippen was actually innocent after DNA was said to have proved remains found at the couple’s home did not belong to his wife .

Scientists at the University of Michigan claimed the remains were actually male and results of which were published in the Journal of Forensic Science in America.