Sweeney Todd the demon barber of Fleet Street, had his shop at number 186 Fleet Street, which is now the Dundee Courier building with a Kwick copier shop.
On this site he is believed to have robbed and murdered over 150 customers, thereby making him the number one serial killer in British history.
Sweeney was born on 16th October 1756, at number 85 Brick Lane in London's East End. In those times Brick Lane was almost a rural country lane that led out to the brickfields of Bethnal Green. Todd's mother Elizabeth, was a silk-winder and his father Samuel Todd a silk weaver, working for the French Huguenots in nearby Norton Folgate, Spitalfields. In February 1770 aged only 14 years Sweeney Todd was sentenced to a five year term in Newgate Prison wrongly accused of stealing a pocket watch. While in prison he met up with an old barber named Elmer Plummer, who was serving ten years for fraud. Plummer took a liking to young Sweeney and taught him how to cut hair and shave, and how to pick pockets of the customers, Sweeney was a keen learner and soon became Plummer's apprentice boy, lathering-up and shaving some of the prisoners who could afford their services.
After his release in 1775, with a few pounds he had stolen at work in the jail, and with the little knowledge of haircuts he gained, Sweeney Todd opened his Barber Shop at 186 Fleet Street, next door to St Dunstan's Church, just a few blocks away from the Royal Courts of Justice. The shop stood at the side of the narrow alleyway named Hen and Chicken Court, at the corner of Fetter Lane.
Going west along Fleet Street towards the Strand and opposite the Temple Bar is Bell Yard, a narrow alleyway where Mrs. Lovett a widow and long time girl friend of Sweeney’s had her meat pie shop.
The first murder account in the Daily Courant, London’s first newspaper, that had by this time merged with the Daily Gazetteer, described a murder that could well have been the work of Todd. It recalls on 14th of April 1785 a murder was committed near to Fleet Street on a gentleman from the country who was on a visit to London. The gentleman was seen arguing with a barber when the barber took from his white coat a razor and slit the throat of the man, the barber then ran towards White Friars Street, disappearing into the fog.
The story of the barbers shop tells of when customers were seated in the revolving chair, that stood in the centre of the small shop and over a trapdoor that led to a disused cellar. The chair if swung over would reveal an identical empty chair that would take its place. Sweeney when committing his murderous act, would exit through the rear door and down a flight of creaky stairs to where the customer would by now be lying unconscious after their fall. Sweeney would then take out his razor and slit their throats (through Sweeney Todd's act this type of razor became known as a cut throat razor).
Can't wait to watch the movie! I am officially obsessed! :p Who wanna watch with me?
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