In The Line Of Duty

Back in March Nick Hayter was scheduled to decorate our kitchen and sitting room. The first coronavirus lockdown put paid to that. He rebooked this for tomorrow. We are going into another full lockdown on Thursday. We don’t know how much Nick will be able to do in the available time, but, ever optimistic, we spent much of the morning removing nick-knacks from the sitting room.

This afternoon I scanned another batch of colour slides from

Abney Park cemetery produced in

November 2008

and March 2009. John Turpin, writer of “The Magnificent Seven”, is walking down the path in the third picture of the above gallery.

The Victorian fascination with Egyptology is reflected in the iconography of the capitals to the entrance gates and of various lodge lintels.

Selected memorials are these of 18th century hymn writer Isaac Watts; the Rogers Family Tomb; and the policeman, William Frederick Tyler, killed in the line of duty. Unfortunately the black and white image in the book of this third monument incorrectly attributes the memorial to a different gentleman, a member of the fire service.

The story of constable Tyler’s death is told in

as follows:

‘One winter Saturday morning two armed Russian/Latvian anarchists, Paul Hefeld and Jacob Lepidus, attempted to seize the wages’ cash (£80) being delivered to the Schnurmann Rubber Factory in Chesnut Road, Tottenham.  The sound of bullets was heard at the (extremely) nearby police station and officers ran to the site.  The robbers ran away down Chesnut Road, firing at the pursuing policemen; some on foot, some in a car.  Follow the chase on the map at Tottenham-Summerhill Road. At Mitchley Road Hefeld stopped to reload his gun.  One of the pursuing drivers tried to run over the gunmen but only succeeding in crashing the car and injuring those inside.  Ralph Joscelyne, 10 years old, was caught in the cross-fire and killed.  One of the police borrowed a gun from a member of the crowd that had gathered but failed to hit either of the robbers who ran on towards Tottenham Marshes.  Constables Tyler and Newman attempted to cut them off by running behind a tall fence.  Tyler met them at the end of the fence and shouted “Come on, give in, the game’s up.”  But Hefeld shot him in the head.  Constable Newman stayed with the dying Tyler while the gunmen ran on, reaching and crossing the River Lea.  The chase carried on, along the south side of the Banbury Reservoir to Chingford Road where they hijacked a tram.  The police commandeered another tram and 40 officers boarded.  A horse-drawn carriage driven by another officer crashed when Hefeld shot the horse.  Being told there was a police station coming up the gunmen jumped tram and took over a milk cart, by shooting its driver.  They drove this until they crashed it, when they hijacked another horse cart.  They had a crowd of followers led by a motor car carrying armed police who were exchanging fire. Others were on horseback, on bicycles, on foot; some wielding cutlasses, others brandished truncheons. A woman throw a potato. The followers included footballers, labourers, duckshooters and gypsies. Hefeld and Lepidus crashed again at Fulbourne Road and Wadham Road (where the North Circular now is).  They ran towards the River Ching and Lepidus climbed a tall fence.  Hefeld failed to get over and attempted to shot himself but survived (but was not able to continue running, you’ll be relieved to hear).  Lepidus ran on into Hale End Road and into the end house, Oak Cottage, where lived the Rolstone family.  They got out as the house was surrounded by police and a gun battle ensued during which Lepidus successfully shot himself.  This was near the Royal Oak pub where none of the buildings of that date remain. We have read that the pub itself was built on the site of Oak Cottage.

The above is, mainly, a condensed version of the story told at History by the Yard and the detailed description given by Wikipedia who summarise with: “The incident lasted more than two hours, covered a distance of six miles with an estimated 400 rounds fired by Helfeld and Lepidus. Twenty-five casualties were reported, two fatal and several serious.“  The two deaths were Constable Tyler and the little boy, Ralph.  Lepidus died at the scene and Hefeld (or ‘Helfeld’) died in hospital on 12 February, both at their own hands.

5 minute Youtube with photos of many of the buildings involved.  12 minute film with recreation of the event.’

Readers clicking on the Youtube link will be warned that it may not be still available. It is.

Ralph Joscelyne is also buried in Abney Park, but I did not see his grave – the Youtube film shows why.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken, bacon, and vegetable stoup; fresh bread and butter; and savoury sausage rolls, with which I finished the Corbieres and the Culinary Queen abstained.



  1. Interesting history and photos. Good luck with the redecorating (and subsequent lockdown). Will you be able to see your mother before then? We’re wondering if we’re going to have more restrictions soon.

  2. It’s not enough that Russian anarchists’ wrecked havoc in their own country; they had to go abroad and kill innocent people elsewhere.
    The photos are romantically beautiful, but I think I still prefer black and whites.

  3. Crikey, that was a gripping yarn. The woman who threw the potato was very brave. How sad a little boy, and 2 policemen were killed. (e never know what you’re going to serve up on these posts: no pretty flowers this time.)
    That darn virus isn’t going away, despite what a certain leader of the Western world has said. 🙁

  4. Beautiful photos, Derrick, and thank you for including Tyler and Ralph’s story. The dead have many such stories to tell.
    I am glad you have had some time to get out and about before the new lockdown. As you know, things are out of control on a number of fronts over here.

  5. I haven’t had a chance to watch the documentary yet, but as sad and poignant as the description of the event was, I got an immediate picture in my head of a scene from the Keystone Cops. Irreverent, but here it is
    I have a fascination with cemeteries, and have visited Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford where ancestors are buried in the relatively modest non-conformist section. But in keeping with the Bradford millionaires of the Victorian era, the main boulevards have imposing mausoleums and monuments – many sphinxes, etc,
    Pat Jalland’s Death in the Victorian Family is also worth a read.
    One of the most wry epitaphs I ever read was erected by a widower to his departed wife “Gone to Do God’s Housework” (as if she hadn’t already done enough of it in life).

  6. I hope your kitchen gets the decoration it deserves!
    That is an excellent continuation of the monuments of magnificent seven series. I was quite alarmed by the Tottenham outrage story and video. I felt sorry for poor Ralph and the policeman who died in line of duty, as if they had lost their lives an hour ago. I have a feeling that recent influx of refugees in France and elsewhere in Europe are causing history to be rewritten.

    1. When I googled Tottenham Shooting I found others from this decade. Ralph was also a shock to me, especially as his grave was so overgrown. Thanks very much, Uma.

  7. Beautiful photos, Derrick. Cemeteries are a kind of three dimensional history. You have a longer, more interesting history than we do, especially those of us who live on the west coast of the US.

  8. What an interesting story, over a hundredyears later and I feel sorry for the young boy and his family.
    By the way, I think your decorator may be allowed to continue his job. See the guidelines below. Unless I’ve misinterpeted.
    1. Stay at home.
    This means you must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. These include:
    for childcare or education, where this is not provided online
    for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes).

    1. Thanks very much, Sue. I’ve passed this on to Nick, who is grateful. Getting the materials will be his major problem before Thursday. Somehow the fact that the boy’s grave was overgrown added to the sadness.

  9. Nothing changes does it? Crazy foreigners with a strong belief in bizarre ideas and extreme violence v the brave men of our police force, and increasingly, the bravery of passers by.

  10. What a sad story. I’m glad Constable Tyler and the other casualties are being remembered. It’s a beautiful cemetery. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be a Celtic cross.

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