Miss Mary Ann Spurgeon was the very strict, very severe housekeeper at Burnham Abbey Farm, four miles from Windsor – so strict and so severe that she got up the nose of the new groom, Moses Hatto. But there wasn’t much he could do about Miss Spurgeon, because their boss, gentleman farmer Ralph Goodwin, valued her services much more than his.

On November 1st, 1853, Hatto finally snapped. While his boss was out for the evening he attacked Miss Spurgeon and bludgeoned her to death. Then he lit a fire under her bed that burned most of the flesh off her body. The alarm was raised only when Mr. Goodwin returned and burst into the burning bedroom.

Hatto was arrested and charged with the murder on purely circumstantial evidence, including his behaviour that night, the state of his clothes and his general demeanour. This was enough to convince the jury after a three-hour deliberation – a long retirement by Victorian standards – that he was the killer. He was sentenced to death and hanged on Friday, March 24th, 1854, outside Aylesbury Prison.

After the execution it emerged that Hatto was indeed the killer. The night before he was hanged he called the prison governor to the death cell and said: “I was sitting at the kitchen table and the housekeeper was in the larder with her back to me. I was suddenly overwhelmed by my hatred for her.

“I got up from the table and bludgeoned her with a stick used to beat lard. Then I chased her upstairs to her room and finished her off with a poker before lighting a fire under her bed.”