21 Morbidly Fascinating Things From Scotland Yard's Hidden Museum Of Crime

Death masks, acid baths, and letters from Jack the Ripper. The Metropolitan police’s hidden museum of crime opens to the public this October.

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A new exhibition at the Museum of London reveals a bunch of stuff previously hidden from public view at Scotland Yard.

Museum of London

The Metropolitan police's Crime Museum was established in the mid-1870s as a way of teaching detectives how to be detectives. The collection includes evidence, murder weapons, and personal belongings of both criminal and victim. But it's also a record of how policing has changed over the last 140 years.

3. But it's not as grisly as you think it's going to be. Sure, there are death masks, such as this one of Daniel Good.

Museum of London

Good was executed outside Newgate prison in 1842 for the murder of his wife, Jane Jones.

4. And this one of Robert Marley, who bludgeoned the owner of a jewellery shop to death and was hanged for his crime in 1856.

5. And yes, these may be the rubber gloves of John Haigh, who dissolved his victims in acid baths in the 1940s.

Museum of London

Alongside the gloves are Mrs Olive Durand-Deacon's red purse and three apparently undissolvable gallstones.

6. But it's not all gruesome. This is a poster issued by the Metropolitan police in 1888, an appeal for information about Jack the Ripper.

Museum of London

It reprints the infamous "Dear Boss" letter, which was sent to the Central News Agency supposedly by the murderer himself but is now largely regarded to have been a hoax by a journalist. Signed "Yours truly, Jack the Ripper", it's the letter that gave newspapers something to call their murderer.

7. This button and badge belonged to a man who might not have committed the crime he was jailed for in 1918 after all.

He was released after his 15-year sentence for the rape and murder of Nellie Trew, but always proclaimed his innocence despite his button and badge having been found at the crime scene.

11. The collection focuses on the weird humanness we forget about when we're reading about crimes.

Alongside cat burglar Charles Peace's fold-up ladder for breaking and entering, there's his violin. He was both a talented musician and a criminal, and was executed for killing a police officer in a burglary gone wrong in 1878.

13. We learn that balaclavas were infinitely more stylish in 1975.

Museum of London

This was worn by a gunman involved in the Spaghetti House siege in Knightsbridge, which lasted six days (nobody got hurt).

14. And that even a tin of talcum powder can be used in espionage.

Museum of London

These were used to conceal microdots (massively shrunken text or images contained in a dot no bigger than a full stop) by the Krogers, members of the Portland Soviet spy ring, 1961.

15. Stockings can be fashioned into facemasks like this, at a push.

Museum of London

These were used by the Stratton brothers – the first criminals to be convicted in the UK for murder based on fingerprint evidence, in 1905. When they fled the scene of the crime they left their masks, the empty cashbox with their prints on it, and a bit of stocking with two masks cut out of it.

20. We learn that a woman called Annie Parker was arrested over 400 times for alcohol-related offences, but was also good at embroidery.

Museum of London

A bit weird though: She embroidered this with her own hair and then gifted it to the prison chaplain in 1879 who swiftly gifted it to the Crime Museum.

21. And finally, we discover that even if you burn the shit out of your laptop, you may still be able to recover 96% of its data.

Museum of London

This one was recovered from a car involved in the 2007 Glasgow Airport terrorist attack. Despite looking clearly dead, it was crucial in the investigation, and no one went crying to the Genius Bar.