On a grave in Dudley, West Midlands, reads the inscription: “To the memory of Mary Ann Mason, who was murdered by Joseph Meadows on the 12th of May, 1855, aged 17 years.” Why was such a young woman murdered? And who was the man responsible, Joseph Meadows?
In episode one of It’s About Time, Sir Tony Robinson delves into the history files to uncover the truth behind this tragic tale. It begins with a news report on Joseph Meadows’ hanging at Worcester Gaol. It then follows the story back, with first-hand witness accounts of the murder and letters from Meadows himself.
As reported in newsprint at the time, after committing the deed, Meadows said: “I’ve had my revenge; I have heard them say revenge is sweet. I left home for that purpose. I’ve done it and now I am satisfied.”
In the impoverished industrial environment of Dudley in the mid-Nineteenth Century, lives were cut short by disease and malnutrition. Yet Mary Ann died early at the hands of a man that she knew well.
There were plenty of people who saw the crime being committed – enough to make it an open and shut case. They thought they knew who the murderer was. And for that reason they could not fathom his motives. Yet behind the murder lies a more complicated story. One that Sir Tony unravels in this first episode of It’s About Time.
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