Ethel Major – A Lincolnshire village murderer?

Not long after we moved into Kirkby on Bain in 2001, somebody said to me something along the lines of “Of course you must know about our famous murderer, Ethel Major”. Of course I had never heard of her, so I did some very superficial research and found that this Kirkby on Bain lady was convicted of killing her husband (a nasty piece of work, allegedly,) in 1934 and hanged in Hull gaol.

A little later Betty Dixon, who was born that year and until recently was one of Kirkby’s oldest residents, kindly lent me a bundle of newspaper cuttings and a book about this case. Like a lot of accounts of past murders, quite a bit of this material was written in sensationalist styles, with little by way of references or source attributions. I also noticed that some accounts were word-for-word copies, apparently lifted from one original newspaper write-up.

During subsequent searches, I stumbled across a real surprise – macabre testimony to the everlasting obsession with murder, a knitted representation of Ethel’s house, made by Jean Arkell, originally installed at the Minories Art Gallery, Colchester. Believe it or not there really is a website featuring knitted representations of houses lived in by female murderers. Midsomer Murders scriptwriters, please take note.
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A new way to decorate your Christmas tree…….

…….which you can see for yourself in St Botolph’s Church (aka the Stump) in Boston Lincolnshire until January. 3,000 Christmas tree stars and a nativity scene knitted by people across Lincolnshire, all dedicated to family, friends, memories and even pets.

Called Christmas Knitivity, this imaginative project was organised by BBC Radio Lincolnshire in partnership with St Botolph’s Church. Local radio staffers and Boston parishioners got together with Oldrids store to decorate more than 30 trees with these unusual emblems. Continue reading