The 29th of June 2014 marks the 154th anniversary of one of the most notorious crimes in Victorian England, as described in the 2008 best seller The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale. The story details the investigation into the murder of the youngest child of Samuel Saville Kent, Factory Inspector, and his wife Mary, at Road Hill House, Road, on the Somerset/Wiltshire border. The book was subsequently dramatised and produced for television and broadcast in April 2011.
The murder of Francis Saville Kent shocked and scandalised Victorian society, and caused a major sensation. The boy, aged four, whose body was found the morning after he had been abducted from his cot in the middle of the night, together with the fact that he was a member of a respectable middle class family, and that he had been taken from inside his securely locked, affluent home, meant that the murderer most likely was a member of the household. Many celebrities, including Charles Dickens, and Wilkie Collins were intrigued by the crime and its aftermath, which helped to inspire the birth of the murder mystery genre.
Constance, one of the teenage daughters, eventually confessed to the crime, and was sentenced to twenty years in prison. The scandal meant that the family was forced to move and Samuel Saville Kent was offered the post of Factory Inspector at Llangollen. This is where the Kent’s family connection to Denbighshire begins; the family originally lived at Tower, just outside the town of Llangollen. Following the Death of Mrs Kent in 1866, Samuel moved with his children to Rhydycilgwyn isa, Rhewl, between Ruthin and Denbigh, where he lived until his death in 1872. Both Samuel and Mary Kent are buried in the churchyard at Llangollen.
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