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Details of grisly Norfolk pub murders revealed in new book

PUBLISHED: 09:24 02 March 2015 | UPDATED: 13:01 02 March 2015

Maids Head Hotel, Norwich.

Maids Head Hotel, Norwich.

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The gruesome historic crimes committed at some of Norfolk’s hostelries feature in a newly-published pub murder guide.

Murder at the Inn book cover. Murder at the Inn book cover.

Murder at The Inn: A History of Crime in Britain’s Pubs and Hotels, details bloody cases from the county, including incidents in Norwich and Catton.

The darker side of the city’s drinking spots has long been a source of curiosity, with Norfolk’s Man In Black leading popular ghost tours in recent years.

And author James Moore said details of some of the grisly incidents in the new handbook were fascinating.

“The history of Britain’s pubs, inns and hotels has gone hand in hand with the history of crime,” he said. “Now, for the first time, we link pubs that can still be found today with captivating and sometimes horrifying tales from their past.”

The Krays, Lord Lucan and Jack the Ripper feature in the book, which includes more than 250 pubs across Britain with links to murder cases.

It also charts the relationship between crime and pubs, from a murder in a Roman tavern, through the eras of smuggling and highway robbery to modern day terror.

Readers will discover how pubs were used for murder inquests until the 1920s, and also for autopsies and even executions.

Men condemned to death used to be allowed a last drink in pubs, the Gunpowder Plot was hatched in a pub and Britain’s most famous hangman was also a publican.

James Moore is a national newspaper journalist with more than 20 years’ experience, and has previously written on pubs and crime.

Murder at the Inn, by James Moore, is published by The History Press priced £9.99.

A 21-year-old woman was bludgeoned to death at the Gardeners Arms, in Timber Hill, in 1895.

The Norwich pub, also known as The Murderers, was owned by the widow Maria Wilby at the time.

Mrs Wilby rushed downstairs to the bar when she heard her daughter Mildred screaming “Murder! Mother!”.

She discovered Mildred lying in a pool of blood, bleeding from the head, and despite efforts from doctors she died from her injuries.

Mildred had married cavalryman Frank Miles just three years earlier, and he left the army to get a job in a brewery.

But the marriage broke down, the couple separated and Mildred moved in with her mother, helping out at the pub after her father died.

Her husband, despite the estrangement, still had feelings for her and believed she had been unfaithful.

He confronted Mildred at the pub on May 31, 1895, levelling accusations at her and then throwing an earthenware match holder at her.

The next day, June 1, he returned armed with an iron ‘bung picker’ used to draw bungs out of casks in the brewery.

He confronted Mildred again, but this time lost control and hit her with the sharp end of the tool.

When Mildred’s mother arrived downstairs, he told her: “I have killed the b****.”

He confessed to the crime and handed himself into police, along with the murder weapon.

An initial death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, and Miles died at Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight eight years later, aged 37.

The Maid’s Head Hotel in Tombland claims to be Britain’s oldest hotel.

But in a history stretching back more than 800 years, there is one particularly dark episode.

In 1519, a disagreement over who was winning in a game of dice led to a stabbing.

A dagger was used in the attack on John Ganton, and he died from his injuries.

It is not known what happened to his attacker.

A murderer, covered in blood, staggered into the Maids Head pub in Catton in 1908.

Horace Larter’s relationship was failing, and he could not bear it. He killed his 19-year-old girlfriend, Nellie Howard, and later that evening stumbled into The Maids Head in Old Catton.

He was still covered in blood, and was spilling beer. He admitted what he had done, telling police: “In a fit of passion I stabbed her in the neck.”

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