Fleet Street is most famous for the huge number of newspaper offices housed here, but that’s not the reason I paid it a visit. As you are probably aware it is also the place where one of London’s most notorious serial killers was supposed to have lived and worked. Sweeney Todd’s barber shop was located at number 186, right next door to St Dunstan’s church. The story of Todd is believed to have first been written James Malcolm Rymer in an eighteen part penny dreadful called The String of Pearls. I have read this version it tells the story of a sailor, Lieutenant Thornhill, who goes to Todd to be shaved on his way to see the fiancée of one of his friends who didn’t return from their journey. He makes the mistake of telling Todd about the pearls he has been told to give her and is subsequently murdered.
Most recently the story of Sweeney Todd has been made into a film by the wonderful Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp in the title role. As well as being a great work of fiction there is evidence that a murderous barber may have existed in one form or another but as historians are unable to agree on even the most basic facts about him this may be an early case of urban legend.
Below is what the shop looks like now, or did when I visited back in Febuary