Red Barn murderer skeleton to come home

DISTANT relatives of 'Red Barn murderer' William Corder have asked for his skeleton to be returned so that his remains can be cremated in a Christian ceremony.

DISTANT relatives of 'Red Barn murderer' William Corder have asked for his skeleton to be returned so that his remains can be cremated in a Christian ceremony.

For almost 200 years some of Corder's remains have been on display.

A book telling the story of the murder he was hanged for, bound in his own skin, and his scalp, including one of his ears, have been kept at Moyses Hall Museum, in Bury St Edmunds. His skeleton has been held at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

On Monday, August 11, 1828, Corder was hanged in Bury St Edmunds for the murder of Maria Marten his 26-year-old lover, in the Red Barn at Polstead.


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Throughout the trial he claimed his innocence but Corder, 24, was found guilty and, standing on the gallows at the county gaol, he confessed in front of the thousands of spectators who had turned out for the execution.

His body was taken to the Shire Hall, where it was cut open and laid out on show.

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Thousands of people filed past to view it before it was removed for dissection at the West Suffolk Hospital.

The skeleton was kept, and the scalp and part of the skin were preserved.

The surgeon, George Creed, later had an account of the trial bound in leather made from Corder's skin.

Some years later the skeleton was then moved to London.

Distant relatives of Corder have now contacted the Royal College asking for the skeleton to be returned to them so that his remains can be cremated in a Christian ceremony.

A spokeswoman for the college confirmed that the skeleton has now been taken off display in the museum and they were in discussions with the family about returning it but refused to comment further.

The murder only came to light after Maria had been missing for a year, after arranging to meet Corder in the Red Barn, on May 18, 1827.

Months later, Maria's stepmother asked her husband Thomas Marten, to search the barn as she had dreamed that Maria was murdered and buried there.

With a friend he went to the barn. Prodding the floor with his mole-spud, he found a soft spot. He dug out some loose earth and discovered a body stuffed into a sack. A green silk handkerchief showed through.

Mr Marten recognised it as one belonging to Corder which Maria had been wearing when she left the house.

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