When he was appointed resident caretaker of Lancaster Castle in January, 1911, James Henry Bingham was carrying on a family tradition, following in the footsteps of his father William, who had just died after being resident caretaker for 30 years. But when James appointed his sister Margaret as housekeeper to the castle things started going badly wrong.

Margaret died almost at once and was succeeded as housekeeper by her half-sister Edith Agnes Bingham, who was also living in the castle.

A few months later James died too – the third Bingham to die within the year.

James’s death, on Tuesday, August 15th, 1911, came after he had eaten a steak cooked by Edith, whereupon, suspecting foul play, the coroner had the Bingham bodies dug up. Each contained enough arsenic to presuppose that they were given fatal doses.

Edith Bingham was charged with the murder of her brother James and tried at Lancaster Assizes, which happened to be held in Lancaster Castle – the same building in which she and her family had worked for generations.

The court heard there were quarrels between the brother and his half-sister, and that Edith had access to weedkiller containing arsenic used for the paths of the castle grounds. But in the end the case against her was about suspicion and nothing else, and she was found not guilty. Thereafter she “retreated into obscurity,” says a note about the case.