Date: 24 Sep 1930
Place: 2 Church Road, Ramsgate
Margery Wren was murdered in the sweet shop she owned.
She was hit multiple times with tongs but survived for five days.
She made a number of statements but none of them made much sense or led police to the murderer.
Police had three main suspects but no evidence.
She was found in her shop at 6.05pm on Saturday 20 September 1930 suffering from injuries to the head. It was thought that she had been hit with a pair of tongs which were found with hair on them. At first it was thought that she had come by her injuries through a fall but later it was determined that she had been assaulted. It was also thought that she had known her assailant.
A woman whose son was a policeman was set to benefit from her death and he was staying in Ramsgate with her at the time on leave and had been seen in the street at about 5pm on 20 September 1930. The policeman was interviewed and his coat and trousers which had stains on them were sent off for analysis.
A policeman who was sent by Scotland Yard travelled up to Ramsgate on 24 September to assist with the investigation. It was his intention on the day to visit the shop so that he was familiar with the premises when he interviewed Margery Wren but by the time he had examined the shop and arrived at the hospital she was too ill to speak to him and shortly died at 2.30pm.
When she was found in the back of her shop she had injuries to the left side of her head. For the first 24 hours she claimed that she had fallen over but later alleged that the injuries had been caused by several people who she named. She refused to make a statement to the police although when the vicar of Ramsgate when to see her she did promise him that she would immediately make a statement after he had left, but when he did leave, Margery Wren refused to say anything. As a result, the doctor and everyone that had seen her came to the conclusion that she had been shielding someone. The people that she named were questioned but no evidence could be found to connect them to the attack.
Margery Wren had made her will out to her two cousins, one of who was the mother of a policeman. The first cousin who was the mother of the policeman was 72-years-old and lived on Hereson Road in Ramsgate and the other cousin aged 84, who was an invalid, lived on Syndale Place, Avenue Road in Ramsgate. The mother of the policeman had four sons, including the one who was the policeman.
The policeman who had travelled to Ramsgate to help with the investigation said that when he went to her shop he found that it consisted of a small general shop on the ground floor with a small kitchen or parlour at the rear which had a backdoor leading into a small brick yard. There was a narrow staircase leading from the back room to two small bedrooms, one over the back room and the other over the shop. He said that the premises were in a filthy and verminous condition and that the shop contained little stock giving him the impression that little business was done there. He said that in the back room there was a dark blood stained patch in the carpet in the centre of the room. He said that the place was very badly lighted and appeared as though Margery Wren had been in the habit of using candles for lighting purposes.
The policeman said that it was impossible to say what had been disturbed since Margery Wren had been attacked as he understood that a number of her relations, including the policeman’s mother and her sons had searched the shop for her money and papers. He said that two small drawers had been removed from a cheffonier in the front bedroom, but that it could not be determined whether they had been removed by the relations, Margery Wren or the murderer.
He said that throughout his search he could not find anything to indicate that Margery Wren had sustained her injuries by falling on anything.
He said that he later looked at the fire tongs which had been found on the carpet near the bloodstained patch and saw that they were bloodstained on the knob and hinge and had several grey hairs adhering to the knob.
The police report stated that on the day she was murdered Margery Wren had carried on her business in the usual way. During the morning she was visited by her cousin whose son was the policeman who made a habit of visiting her every day because of her age. Then at 1pm she was visited by her niece's husband who was 69 years old and lived in Heathfield Avenue in Dover. Margery Wren was later seen walking with him to the corner of the street where she said goodbye to him at about 2.20pm.
Just after 3pm Margery Wren ordered some coal which was brought to her shop at 3.15pm by a coal dealer from Broad Street in Ramsgate who put it in a box in the kitchen by the side of the fire place for which Margery Wren paid him 1/2d for a half hundred weight.
Margery Wren was later seen by two people sweeping leaves from the front of her shop but the first woman said that it was just after 3pm whilst the other woman said that it was between 4pm and 4.30pm.
The police questioned the tradesmen that were in the habit of calling on Margery Wren and spoke to the milkman who said that he delivered her milk at 2pm and that when he saw her there was nothing unusual but he did say that he heard her speaking to someone in the backroom who it was determined was no doubt her niece's husband.
Other tradesmen that called included an errand boy who called at 10.30am to deliver some bread but said that he heard nothing whilst a traveller employed by Messrs. JT Winton, provision merchants had called the day before on 19 September and said that Margery Wren had asked him to call again on 22 September. He had said that Margery Wren was in the habit of settling her account once a month which averaged about £2. He said that Margery Wren had led him to believe that she had a monthly income.
The police report states that no one was able to state that they had seen Margery Wren between 3.30pm and 6pm and so they put an appeal out for anyone with information in the press. It was not until 12 October that a 12-year-old girl went to the police to say that she had gone to the Royal Victoria Pavilion in the afternoon and seen Harold Lloyd in the picture called 'Welcome Danger' and that she had left at 4.45pm with three other children and that whilst on her way home with them when passing through Church Road she said she had seen Margery Wren, who she knew well, serving a woman customer in the shop at 5.15pm. She said that she saw the woman come out of the shop and take hold of the handle of a perambulator which was stood outside as if to go away. She said that at the time she noticed the St. George's Church clock was a quarter or twenty past five. The police report stated that the girls mother said that when the girl had got home it was 5.35pm. The mother also said that her daughter had told her about seeing the woman on 22 September but that she had told her daughter not to say anything or to take any more notice of it. The police said that they made efforts to trace the woman that had been in the shop at 5.15pm but without luck.
Another 12-oyear-old girl who lived on Church Road said that she had been to the pictures and returned home at 5pm. She said that her mother then sent her out to do some shopping and that when she was in the High Street she met another girl and they went to Margery Wren's shop together and tried the handle of the shop at 6.05pm and found that it was locked. The girl said that she rattled the door and looked through the glass pane and then saw Margery Wren sitting in a chair in the back room. She said that she noticed that her hair was down and that she was not wearing her cap which was unusual. She said that Margery Wren then got up out of her chair and went to the door and unfastened it and that when Margery Wren opened the door she noticed that her face was stained with blood with blood running down it and bruises.
The girl said that when Margery Wren came to the door she said 'Whatever have you done Miss Wren?' and that Margery Wren replied in a whisper 'What do you want?'. The girl said that she said 'I want a blanc mage powder' and that she tried to make Margery Wren understand that she wanted 'Vanilla' but that Margery Wren didn't seem to understand that and kept saying 'Raspberry'. She said that Margery Wren then went behind the counter and put four or five packets on the counter telling her to take the flavour that she wanted. In the meantime the other girl had gone off to get her father who arrived and asked Margery Wren what had happened to whom Margery Wren replied 'I've had a tumble'. the doctor was then sent for as well as a policeman.
The father said that he helped Margery Wren into a chair behind the counter and asked her how long ago it had happened but said that Margery Wren seemed to have difficulty speaking. He said that he saw her mouth move but he could not hear what she said. He said that he asked her several times and listened closely and that he then heard her say 'A quarter of an hour'. The father said that he then noticed the pool of blood on the floor and the cap that she usually wore as well as the pair of tongs. He said that he noticed that Margery Wren had a bloodstained rag or handkerchief screwed up in her hand and that the blood on the floor was thick and congealed. He said that he then asked Margery Wren how it had happened and that she then pointed to the tongs on the floor.
Whilst they were waiting for the doctor and the policeman Margery Wren appeared to be choking and started to vomit. The room was very dark and one of the neighbours drew back the curtains from over the back door and unlocked it and opened it to let in light and fresh air.
When the doctor arrived Margery Wren asked him if she was going to die and said that she was choking. When the policeman arrived, Margery Wren told him that she had fallen over the poker. The doctor then bandaged Margery Wren's head and she was put on a stretcher and taken to the hospital where she died a few days later.
see Western Times - Wednesday 24 December 1930
see Nottingham Journal - Tuesday 30 September 1930
see National Archives - MEPO 3/1657