Jane Maria Clousen
On 25th April 1871 a policeman discovered a young woman named Jane Maria Clousen on her hands and kness on Kidbrooke Lane in Eltham. She had been beaten by a hammer and died of her injuries five days later in Guy’s Hospital. She was only seventeen years of age. The murder of Jane Clousen (The Eltham Murder) remains unsolved and it has been claimed that Kidbrooke Lane is haunted by an apparition attributed to her and also ghostly screams.
Jane Maria Clousen was born in Deptford, 27th April 1854. Her father was James Clousen and mother Jane Clousen. Janes older sister, Sarah, died of consumption in 1863 when Jane was nine years old. Her mother died four years later. A year after her mother’s death, aged fourteen, Jane entered service as a maid in the household of the proprietor of a Greenwich based printing company, Ebenezer Whitcher Pook and his wife Mary. Jane was described as being ‘rather a good-looking girl—not dirty, a very clean, respectable young woman, hard-working and industrious.
Whilst working at in the Pook hosehold on London Street, Greenwich, it is said Jane had a relationship with Ebenezer’s son, Edmund Walter Pook (born Walworth 1851 – died 1820) who was three years older than her.
On 13th April 1871 Jane was dismissed from service. The Pook’s claimed that her work was slovenly, her appearance unkempt and her attitude was lazy and unpleasant. However it was suggested that she was dismissed because of her relationship with Edmund and fear that he will end up marrying below his station.
Jane moved to 12, Ashburnham Road, Greenwich. It was suggested by the Police that she continued to correspond with Edmund and met him secretley. After telling Edmund that she was pregnant he agreed to meet her in the Blackheath area and they would run away together. There was however no evidence spporting claims that Jane and Edmund ever wrote to each other or that they met after her dismissal. In fact during the testimony of Inspector John Mulvany of Scotland Yard they recounted an interview with Pook where he denied seeing her after her dismissal. Denied writing to her and described her as a ‘dirty young woman’.
As previously mentioned, on 25th April 1871 a policeman named Donald Gunn discovered Jane on a path near Kidbrooke Lane: “I went on the foot-path beside the lane—when I returned I came back in the lane, and I then found a young woman on her hands and knees, on the side of the lane next Eltham—the lane runs from Eltham towards Morden College……when I got up to the woman, she was……moaning very faintly, “Oh, my poor head, my poor head!”—I asked her what was the matter with her, and she made no answer—I noticed that her right cheek was covered with blood—I put my hand on her left shoulder and gave her a slight shake, and asked her what was the matter, and how she came by the injuries—she raised her left hand, and said “Take hold of my hand,” at the same time turning her head a little to the left, which enabled me to see her face, and I noticed a cut on her left cheek and a lump of blood on her forehead, which appeared to me to be her brain protruding; I should say it was just in the centre of the forehead—when I saw such a fearful sight, I hesitated a moment to give her my hand; and as I stretched forth my hand she fell flat on her face, and said “Let me die!”—she never spoke after that—when I could not get her to answer any questions I turned round, and found there was blood just exactly behind where I was standing—I should say it would cover nearly a foot square, it was a large clot of blood, clear blood; there were spots of blood about a foot square, but there was one large clot, a lump of blood as it were in the middle of it—I saw some footmarks about, a good many, close by where the blood was—the ground was very soft and sloppy—her gloves were lying within 2 feet of her, one in the other, and her hat within 2 feet of her gloves—I looked about, but could not see anyone, and I ran down to Well Hall Farm, knowing that the ostler would be in the stables at that time, and I sent for a stretcher—as I went down to Well Hall, one of the men told me that Sergeant Haynes was outside—I told him what I had found in the lane—he went up to where the woman was lying, and I went to Eltham after a stretcher—she was then taken on the stretcher to Dr. King’s surgery, and then to Guy’s Hospital—when I found her, her head was lying close by the hedge, towards Eltham; her head was bobbing up and down from the ground”. [Testimony of Donald Gunn – Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org), 10th July 1871, trial of Edmund Walter Pook (f18710710-561).]
Her injuries were better described by Michael Harris the house-surgeon at Guy’s Hospital: ” —about 7 o’clock on the morning of the 26th, the deceased was brought there—she came at once under my examination—I have my notes of it—she was quite unconscious, and very cold—the injuries were very severe which she had received, and were chiefly confined to the anterior half of the head; they were all of an incised character, clean cuts—there was one slight abrasion on the left cheek; with that exception they were incised—there were altogether about a dozen wounds on the face and head—there was one over the left ear—there was a wound down to the left temporal bone, and it was smashed in; the bone itself was fractured and depressed—on the bone being raised, the brain was discovered to be lacerated—the injury was external and internal—there were two other wounds which were more severe than the others on the face—one above the right eye, about 3 inches in length; the bone was completely smashed up, so much so that several fragments were lying quite loose, and the brain was protruding; that was a cut—the other was a transverse wound on the upper lip, which extended down to the upper jaw bone, which was broken, and a piece was removed; that was also a cut—those were the most severe of the injuries—there were altogether twelve or fourteen, the others were less serious, but they were quite separate, distinct wounds—there were several cuts on the arms and hands, at the back of the hands; they also appeared to have been produced by a sharp, cutting instrument—they were such wounds as might have been produced in a struggle, if she had been defending herself against violence—there were two cuts on her arms, just as they would be if she had put up her arms in front to defend herself; those were clean cuts, they were quite superficial, not deep—there was one very slight bruise on the right thigh—I think those were all the injuries I observed—the bruise on the thigh was recent, I should say a few hours—she remained under my care at Guy’s till she died, on the 30th, about 9 o’clock in the evening—she died from the direct effect of the wounds.” [Testimony of Michael Harris – Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org), 10th July 1871, trial of Edmund Walter Pook (f18710710-561).]
Jane was indeed pregnant and had been for about 2 months. However, the baby was dead and already decomposing. It was considered that the baby had been dead about two weeks, which would put its death at about the time she was dismissed from the Pook household.
A stain was found on the right wristband of the shirt Edmund Pook wore on the evening of the murder and he had a scratch on his left arm. He told the police he had seen Jane that evening in the company of another man, and remembered telling his brother when he got in, who confirmed the statement.
The murder weapon, a plaster’s hammer was discovered in the grounds of the nearby Morden College by the gardener, Thomas Brown. It had blood marks on the handle but looked like I had been wiped clean. It had been bought at the tool shop of Mr Thomas at 186, High Street, Deptford and Plook was identified as the customer who bought it. (This was later proved to be a case of misidentification and it had been bought by someone else.)
Edmund Pook was arrested and tried for the murder of Jane Maria Clousen. The police at the time considered the evidence pointed toward Pook being responsible. Pook was found guilty in the Coroners Court (where he was represented by Henry Pook – no relation) and the case then went to The Old Bailey on 10th July 1871 where the trial received vast media coverage and Pook was found innocent and acquitted as there was a lack of credible evidence.
In an article entitled the The Eltham Murder Trial, The Sydney Morning Herald had the following to say on Thursday 19 October 1871 – “The spirit and manner of the police in their attempts to trace the death of Jane Maria Clousen to Edmund Walter Pook, as disclosed in Court, and commented upon by the Lord Chief Justice and by the counsel on both sides, show that there is no man’s life that may not be jeopardised at some time or other in its ordinary progress by this feature of admistering criminal law. Now we disclaim, in limine, any suspicion of the police as a body. We willingly credit them with fair, honest, and laudable motives, taking for granted that in so large a number of men there will be an average proportion of individual exceptions. But it by no means follows that because in the exercise of their constabulary functions they come up to a high standard of merit they are qualified to ‘assume the direction of prosecutions for criminal offences. Indeed, when the subject comes to be thought upon, the presumption will be found to lie the other way. Bodies of men organised and disciplined as are the police, are actuated strongly by an esprit de corps. They emulate each other in the discharge of their official duties, and are jealous of the reputation of their comrades. They are not, however, men of refined culture. They are not conversant with human nature at its best. Their imagination has to manipulate coarse and foul materials; and their prejudices render them extremely’ sceptical of innocence whenever a public charge has been made. All this, which may very well suit the performance of their proper work as constables, unfits them to guide with discrimination the conduct of a prosecution which should be as judicial in its character as the trial to which it leads. We do not say that in the case of the accused Walter Pook there was on the part of the police, regarded as prosecutors, any deliberate and wilful attempt to mislead the Court and the jury – any conscious effort to tamper with the evidence which they had collected, or which had been brought before them. But their bias was most perceptibly in aid of the supposed clue hastily seized hold of by them in the first instance. By its consistency or inconsistency with the theory they had formed of Pook’s guilt they judged of the worth or worthlessness of facts as evidence and gave them prominence or thrust them aside accordingly. Having apprehended their man, they naturally looked about for further evidence in support of their conjecture that he was the criminal; and if they felt a stronger desire than other men would have done to bring out a result in harmony with their first proceedings, the ill-chosen position, rather than the dishonest character, of the men must bear the chief blame. It is an infirmity of nobler minds than theirs to be less anxious to find themselves on the side of truth than to find the truth on their side.”
Some however saw the trial as a farce and thought he had escaped justice through his family’s connections. Pook even had to take out a civil case against slander which he won when a pamphlet saying he murdered Jane was printed and distributed. However, such was the media storm and public outrage surrounding the case, Edmund and his family fled London.
Jane Maria Clousen was buried at the Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery and was carried there on a horse drawn carriage with female pall bearers dressed as maids.
It is worth noting that a labourer named Michael Carroll some time later confessed to the murder whilst he was in Australia. The Sydney Police offered to detain him but Scotland Yard Authorities did not consider this man to be Clousen’s murderer.
Is there evidence of the ghost? I am not sure and have not read any actual witness accounts. It could just be nothing more than the typical ghost story we often find attached to old famous murders.