When Pope Benedict XVI stayed at the Apostolic Nunciature in Parkside, Wimbledon, during his state visit to Britain two years ago, he was probably unaware that a bedroom in the building had been the scene of a brutal murder nearly a century earlier.

It happened on the night of 12 November 1917. Just four days after moving into what is known today as Greycourt, No 54 Parkside, Captain Edward Tighe, a retired army officer, was bludgeoned to death with a poker in his bedroom.

A burglar made off with two silver watches and a mackintosh, and Captain Tighe’s servant found him lying in a pool of blood the next morning.

The culprit didn’t get far. He was soon found with the bloody mackintosh, arrested after a dramatic struggle with police, tried, convicted and sent to the gallows.

The house, then known as Winkfield Lodge, returned to obscurity until Joseph Hood MP lived there in the 1920s and the Apostolic Delegation arrived in 1938.

Pope Benedict was the second pontiff to stay at the house after John Paul II, whose state visit in 1982 was the first to Britain by any serving Pope.

The Apostolic Nunciature is now, of course, a venue of international importance and there have doubtless been many other changes since its days as a private residence.

The name Winkfield Lodge dated back to the 1890s. It had previously been known as Tudor House.

The Museum of Wimbledon at 22 Ridgway has details of an auction of the house in 1896 when it had six bedrooms (two with en suite facilities), two attics, and a ha-ha in the grounds dividing it from the neighbouring property, Wressil Lodge. There were extensive and uninterrupted views in those days to the east over the old Wimbledon Park estate.

The new owner in 1896, one Charles Anthony Mills, re-named the house after winning £20,000 on a horse called Winkfield’s Pride at Newmarket. The odds had been 200 to one.

In 1908 Mills was described in the Wimbledon Borough News as ‘the great turf man who lives in splendid style in Parkside’.

He was a witness in a case at the Old Bailey at the time and apparently said: "I have been connected with the turf for 25 years and am a professional backer with a little business on commission."

He was clearly a much luckier man than poor Captain Tighe. They don’t appear to have known each other. Mills sold the house in 1914 to one Arthur Sutton who later leased it to the ill-fated officer.

The Captain lived in Ireland but is thought to have wanted a London base. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to enjoy it.

The Wimbledon Society is working with the Wimbledon Guardian to ensure that you, the readers, can share the fascinating discoveries that continue to emerge about our local heritage.

For more information, visit wimbledonsociety.org.uk and www.wimbledonmuseum.org.uk.

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