On 20th April 1895, Aston Villa beat West Bromwich Albion 1 – 0 in the first all-Midlands FA Cup final. Bob Chatt scored the winning goal, after only thirty seconds.
Valued at £20 and made of silver, the FA Cup was placed on display at William Shillcock, Boot and Shoe Manufacturers, Birmingham, where it attracted an adoring crowd. However, as night fell, it also attracted a burglar.
The second FA Cup, used between 1896 and 1910
With Inspector Dobbs on the case, the police interviewed members of the criminal underworld, to no avail. Despite an extensive search, the cup was never found, and the FA fined Aston Villa £25 for negligence, using the money to buy a replacement.
The mystery remained unsolved until 1958 when Harry Budge, a career criminal who had spent 46 of his 81 years in gaol, confessed to the theft. He informed the police that he’d melted down the cup to make fake half-crowns. However, the police decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute and the case remains open to this day.
Hannah Howe, author of the Amazon #1 Sam Smith and Ann’s War (1944-5) Mystery Series.
This week, The Big Chill, book three in the Sam Smith Mystery Series, made the top one hundred on the Amazon private detective chart, alongside Sue Grafton, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert B Parker.
Set at Christmas, and with a snow storm gripping the city, someone is out to murder private detective Samantha Smith. Using her wits and skills as a detective, Sam sets out to track down the assassin leading to a dramatic showdown in her snowbound apartment.
I have storyboarded Boston, book fourteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. This story takes place over Christmas and features a range of new characters, including Gabe, a Boston private eye. The picture shows a south-east view of Boston, c1730.
In chapter three of Saving Grace, my forthcoming Victorian mystery novel, Daniel Morgan, my advocate, meets Grace Petrie, his client, for the first time. Grace reminds Daniel of Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s paintings, in particular the sensuality of the lady in ‘The White Hat’, pictured, and the vulnerability of the girl in ‘The Broken Vessel’.
The picture below is from my research into Victorian fashions for my forthcoming novel, Saving Grace. Saving Grace is set in 1876 when slimline dresses, bottom left of picture, were in.
Below, the location for the dramatic finale in Betrayal, Ann’s War Mystery Series book one. This location also features in the Sam Smith Mystery Series.
If you have any comments or questions about my books please feel free to contact me via my website. Thank you.
It’s wonderful when your imagination and research overlap. In my mind’s eye I pictured Daniel Morgan, Grace’s advocate in Saving Grace, as Byronic in appearance. During my research I read that the real-life advocate Daniel is based on was also described as ‘Byronic in his handsomeness’. I think only a romantic would choose to speak up for Grace. In contrast, his rival advocate (in real-life and my book) had a weak chin, an unkempt moustache and he wore a monocle.
Carys is a Welsh word for love while the Beaumond, or Beaumont, family were medieval lords. Carys is a young widow with an interest in books. As the story starts, she is translating early medieval manuscripts. She is also concerned about her friend, the extremely rich Grace Petrie, who is suspected of poisoning her husband. And so she hires the dashing Daniel Morgan, a lawyer, to save Grace. Picture, a coat of arms associated with the Beaumonds.
Sker Grange, photographed c1901, Grace’s home in Saving Grace.
Florrie Williams was Grace Petrie’s maid. She was the first on the scene when Charles Petrie was poisoned and a key witness at the inquest. Meanwhile, here is a maid’s typical day.
5.30 am Clean the kitchen floors
6.00 am Hot water
6.30 am Wake seniors, lay and light fires, lay servants’ breakfast, deliver nursery breakfast
7.30 am Water and tea-trays to family, empty chamber-pots
7.45 am Servants’ breakfast
9.00 am Family breakfast
9.30 am Clear and clean
12 noon Servants’ lunch, nursery lunch
1.00 pm Family lunch
2.30 pm Clear lunch, rest
4.30 pm Tea-trays for household
5.30 pm Servants’ tea, nursery tea
6.00 pm Lay dinner, help in kitchen
7.00 pm Family dinner, serve and clear
9.00 pm Servants’ supper
10.00 pm Bed
Wages in 1876, £20-25 per annum
Picture: a maid with her fellow servants and a guest, enjoying a tea and cake break.