THE RETRIAL OF CONSTANCE KENT, SENTENCED TO DEATH IN SALISBURY COURTROOM, JULY 1865, FOR THE MURDER OF HER INFANT HALF BROTHER, AT ROAD HILL HOUSE, 30TH JUNE 1860
ON SATURDAY 24th AUGUST 2019
IN THE GUILDHALL COURTROOM AT 7.30
TICKETS (£10) ON SALE IN SALISBURY INFORMATION CENTRE, FISH ROW, FROM LATE JULY 2019
CONSTANCE KENT - A CONFESSION!
On Friday 21 July, 1865, a young woman was sentenced to death in Salisbury’s Guildhall courtroom.
Constance Kent had confessed, in writing, to the murder of her infant half brother, some five years earlier – when she was only sixteen years old!
In spite of sound legal advice to the contrary, Constance adamantly refused to revoke her confession and plead “not guilty”! No defence was offered in court and the judge proceeded to the inevitable verdict. The trial, such as it was, was over in twenty minutes!
This grim scene is the starting point for “H.A.L.’s” latest foray into the field of mock trials and retrials. Even at the time, grave doubts were voiced in the press. A number of books have been published since, questioning Constance’s guilt and raising the possibility of other suspects. Most recently, Kate Summerscale’s “Suspicions of Mr Whicher” has been a best seller and the subject of a television documentary on the Road Hill House murder and its sequel.
Now “H.A.L.” will re-examine the case by staging the trial which might have taken place if the judge (or Constance’s barrister) had decided to test the confession in open court. This was always a possibility, especially in a capital case.
And there are many aspects of the affair which an astute Defence Council might have raised – even if his client persisted in her self incrimination!
Could a sixteen year old girl physically have committed the murder, in the way described by the police and medical advisors? Was she psychotic? What about the other police suspects, in what was rather a dysfunctional household? Her father? The nursemaid? Her elder brother? Or was it an interrupted intruder – the very first suspicion raised?
“HISTORY AT LARGE”
Is an informal group of people in Salisbury and district, involved in amateur entertainment, interested in history, or both.
We don’t meet regularly, but come together whenever we have a theme we think might be worth presenting to an audience.
Anyone who attended one of our “mock trials” last year will know that we have had considerable success with this genre. We hope to repeat this on August 24th with our re-opening of the Road Hill House murder case. And you, the audience, will be the jury, using our quick and easy voting system to pass your verdict at the end…..