Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

The Heads, Great Fryup Dale

I always like to make a connection with my daily photo with any words accompanying it. Sometimes, most times, I choose my words after taking the photo. Other times I know what I want to write and go out seeking a photo. So I was over in Great Fryup Dale this morning and struggling to find a photo connecting this idyllic Yorkshire Dale to the horrific murder of an eight-year-old girl in Alton, Hampshire. For it was on this day, 24 August, in 1867 that sisters Fanny and Lizzie Adams and their friend, Minnie Warner, were out playing when they met solicitor’s clerk Frederick Baker. Baker offered Minnie and Lizzie three halfpence to go and spend and Fanny a halfpenny to accompany him to Shalden, a neighbouring village.

When Minnie and Lizzie returned home alone, Lizzie’s mother together with a neighbour went to look for Fanny. They met Baker who agreed he had given the girls money for sweets, but that was all. His respectability meant the two women accepted his story.

The remains of Fanny’s body was found later that evening. She had been horribly butchered, her head and legs had been severed and her eyes and internal organs removed and scattered over a very wide area. It took several days before everything was recovered.

Baker was soon arrested. He protested his innocence even though there was blood on his clothes and had two blood-stained knives on him. His diary was later found to contain the entry “24th August, Saturday – killed a young girl. It was fine and hot.” Baker was found guilty of murder and hanged on Christmas Eve outside Winchester Gaol watched by a crowd of 5,000. The case had become notorious.

The murder of Fanny Adams was still fresh in the public mind when, two years later, the Royal Navy introduced new rations of tinned mutton. The sailors were not impressed and quipped it might be the butchered remains of Fanny Adams and speculating that parts of her body had been found at the Royal Navy’s victualling yard in Deptford. So “Fanny Adams” became Navy slang for mutton or stew, morphing into “sweet Fanny Adams” or “sweet F.A.” meaning anything worthless or nothing.

So no connection, none at all, or maybe it’s been staring at me all along.

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