Victorian London - Crime - Violence, murders and assaults - Murder in South Kensington (Walter Lee)

The Times, Wednesday, Aug 17, 1870

MURDER -  A shocking murder has been committed at Glennow-gardens, South Kensington. It appears that a good deal of building has been going on in the district, and that the Drayton Arms publichouse has been much frequented by the workmen. The potman of the house, Walter Lee, aged 38 years, and a cripple, has been in the habit of letting them have their beer during the week, and collecting on each Saturday the amount of their respective scores. Lee was a sober, saving man, and besides accommodating the masons, carpenters, and plasterers with drink on credit, he supplemented the accommodation by lending them a shilling or two when they were in need of a loan, which at the close of the week he also collected, charging a small amount of interest. This system has gone on for some time, and Lee and his customers generally appeared to be on the best terms. Last Saturday he went round as usual and made his weekly collection, at the end of which he had a considerable amount of money on his person. Lee took his departure from the buildings but he did not return to the Drayton Arms. There were many conjectures as to what happened him, and search was made in the neighbourhood, unavailing, however, until yesterday afternoon about half-past 4, when he was found dead in an unfinished house, No.3, Glennow-gardens. On the deceased's forehead there was a large wound, apparently inflicted with a hammer, and on the back of the head was an open wound. The supposition is that Lee first received the blow on the forehead, which stunned him, and that when he was down a blow which must have caused instantaneous death was inflicted upon the back of his head. The house in which the murdered man was found is one of a block of large houses which are nearly finished, the plasterers being the only workmen employed at them now. Lee was found lying on his face on the floor of the dining-room, and had evidently been dead over two days. It does not appear that Lee's particular Saturday business would have brought him into the house where he met his death, and the supposition is that he was induced on some pretence to enter it, and then murdered. As in the case of the late Chelsea murders the victim's money seems to have prompted the crime, as when Lee was found he had not a farthing on his person, his pockets having been rifled. Inspector Prescott, Sergeant Large, and Detective officers Large and Chennery, of the T Division are on the spot making inquiries with a view to trace the author of the murder, who, it is surmised, is one of the workmen employed at the buildings, all of whom were well acquainted with the habits of the deceased, and knew from experience that he was punctual and exacting in the transaction of his weekly business.

Times, August, 1870