Harrington: Ghastly light on violence to women

Friday, 8th April

Gas lamp in Broad Court Covent Garden credit Julian Wlker

A gas lamp in Broad Court, Covent Garden. Photo: Julian Walker

AS the cloying mists drew in late last Friday night, I was out on the town, prowling past Scotland Yard on the hunt for killers… or their ghosts.

Led by a fearless young guide – in strangely modern garb – we walked around Soho, hearing about the suicides at Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment and murders in the sewers.

In the 10 gruesome tales we heard, nearly all of the victims were women, an exception being King Charles I who was beheaded by Horse Guards Parade.

As I strolled through the park with the group I thought that more frightening than the ghost stories was the terrible truth that violence against women was rife throughout history and, as it is now, has always been downplayed or ignored.

The creepiest story was of a murdered woman – the lady in red – whose ghost was waiting in the murky waters of St James’s Park’s pond to exact her revenge on her fiancé who murdered her there years before.

The darkness was only kept at bay by Westminster’s famous gas street lamps, which date back to 1816 and are the last of their kind.

We were fortunate for their glow after the council tried to have the lamps removed under the guise of sustainability.

There are more than 300 gas lamps in Westminster.

Fortunately resistance from a fearless group of “Gasketeers” won them a temporary reprieve.

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