Mike Guilfoyle, vice-chair of the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries, discovers another famous photograph from the George Mitchells studio in Lewisham and it leads him to a tale of murder at the Adelphi Theatre, London
Readers of my previous post on the American Inventor Lewis Latimer will have noted that his featured portrait and that of his wife Mary Wilson Latimer were both taken in 1882 at George Mitchells photographic studio, Lewisham High road.
I was intrigued to discover another famous photograph ( left) from the same studio dating from 1886 of the Victorian matinee idol William Terriss in his role as Lieutenant David Kingsley with the actress Jessie Millward as ‘Dora Vane’ in a production of ‘ Harbour Lights’.
William Terriss was one of the most popular actors of his time. However, he is probably better remembered for being stabbed to death at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre, Strand in 1897 by a deranged actor called Richard Archer Prince.
There is also another local link that merits mention to this ill- fated Swashbuckling performer, who was widely acclaimed for acting in such popular roles as Robin Hood and Ivanhoe, on the London stage and when touring in the US.
Born in London in 1847 as William Lewin, his colourful early life included a stint as a sheep farmer in the Falkland Islands before his stage career took off and saw him work with such theatre greats as Ellen Terry and Henry Irving.
Jessie Millward was his long standing stage partner (some sources say his mistress). They starred together in many plays in London over the next few years and toured America.
It was said that she had a terrible premonition of his death, which he met on the December 16 1897 when the out of work actor Richard Prince fatally stabbed him without warning.
His funeral attracted a crowd in excess of 50,000 and he was laid to rest in Brompton cemetery. Prince was later committed to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum where he died in 1937.
William Terriss’ ghost is now said to haunt the Adelphi Theatre and nearby Covent Garden underground station.*
Flora Caroline Tueski was born in New Cross in 1866 and died in Lee in 1953. She was noted as an’ artist’ in the census.
A talented pianist at an early age, she joined the D’Oyly Carte touring troupe aged 17 (as Fleta in Iolanthe) under the name of Florence TERRISS, much to the annoyance of William Terriss of the Adelphi.
Flora boldly retorted in print that as his real name was Lewin, and Terriss was her ‘real’ name, she would continue with her name unperturbed by his evident ire!
She was sufficiently noticed as a rising stage actress to merit a 1895 biographical article in Era Magazine:
Flora later toured Australia before returning to London appearing in a variety of musical comedies, where in 1911 her stage career appears to have ended as in the census of that year she is down as married to an actor and running a laundry business!
Her infant son, Vincent Cecil Tueshi d 1886. is buried in Brockley cemetery.