'Ideal home' or 'house of horror'? Domestic murder scenes in post-war London

Neale, Alexa Hannah Leah (2016) 'Ideal home' or 'house of horror'? Domestic murder scenes in post-war London. In: European Social Science History Conference, 30 March - 02 April 2016, University of Valencia, Spain.

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Abstract

This paper uses case files for murder trials at the Old Bailey in the 1950s and 60s to examine the ways in which police, judicial system, and press ‘read’ and represented home spaces that were also scenes of crime. I argue that contemporary imaginings of the ‘ideal home’ influenced recording and interpretation of homes in this period as never before, frequently creating bias against victims and defendants alike who failed to meet or maintain a domestic ideal that was framed as British, private, and increasingly family-centred.

Though the science of the crime scene, of forensics and ‘trace’ analysis were developing apace in this period, pushing investigations into the laboratory, these techniques were slow to overtake more established readings of home spaces in cases of domestic murder. Rather I argue that the ways that people lived in their homes and organised them remained key to police in determining a narrative that explained who killed, why, and how criminal or culpable they were. I explore the ways in which police, court and press interpreted and explained the scenes of domestic murders, highlighting evidence of strategies for negotiating comfort, privacy, security and safety, in places inhabited by people for whom the ‘ideal’ of the suburban semi was less accessible.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History, 1453- > D299 1789- > D410 20th century
D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA129 By period > DA300 Modern, 1485- > DA566 20th century
D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA670 Local history and description > DA675 London
H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Alexa Hannah Leah Neale
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2016 13:03
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 13:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/64761
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