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Rumpole and “The Penge Bungalow Murders”

Throughout the Rumpole memoirs, the Penge Bungalow Murders case has been his greatest triumph, but only ever mentioned in passing. Finally in 2004 he revealed the full story of how he secured an acquittal in a double murder, “alone and without a leader”. But the Old Bailey hack's memory must be fading because in his previous reminiscences his brief references to the details of the case were somewhat at odds with how he later described them. He also seems to have forgotten some of the details of his courtship with She Who Must Be Obeyed (Hilda Rumpole née Wystan).


  • During his memoirs, the Penge Bungalow Murder(s) switches between singular and plural, but in R&TPBM, it is a double murder.

  • In “Rumpole and the Younger Generation” (Rumpole of the Bailey) he says “it became clear to me that I was expected to marry Hilda” after he had been “detailed off” to go to the Inns of Court Ball with her, and she proposed to him “over a glass of claret after an energetic waltz”. In “Rumpole and the Heavy Brigade” (Rumpole of the Bailey), the proposal happened on “14th August 1938”, he proposed in a tent at an Inns of Court ball, but it is suggested she had not met him before as “Daddy” (C.H. Wystan) had taken her there to “meet some of the bright young men in Chambers”. They waltzed. However, he says he has “no actual memory of proposing to Hilda at all.” In “Rumpole and the Course of True Love” (The Trials of Rumpole), he says he proposed to her when his “gills were awash with champagne during a distant Inns of Court Ball”.

    However, in R&TPBM it seems they had a conversation in the Tastee Bite café during breakfast which Hilda took to be a proposal, and then she obtained her father's permission, mentioned it back to Rumpole in the Temple gardens and he accepted their engagement as a fait accompli.

  • In “Rumpole and the Expert Witness” (Rumpole for the Defence), Rumpole says Dr Henry Dacre was GP at Penge and “had seen my client's bruises” and was a valuable witness for the defence. He also mentions hypostasis and suggests it was part of the Penge Bungalow trial. However, Rumpole's client did not have any bruises, and Dr Dacre is not mentioned. (But hypostasis may have been part of the trial since the victims were shot while standing and then discovered sitting down hours later so this would have been a vital part of the story.)

  • In “Rumpole and the Barrow Boy” (Rumpole and the Age of Miracles), Rumpole and Sir Keith, of the Lord Chancellor's office, discuss the fact that Rumpole's father-in-law and former head of chambers, C.H. Wystan, was never made a Q.C. However, in R&TPBM, Wystan is a Q.C.

  • In “Rumpole à la Carte” (Rumpole à la Carte), Rumpole mentions “someone else's mackintosh taken from an office peg” as being part of the crime. It boggles the mind how this relates to R&TPBM.

  • In “Rumpole and the Children of the Devil” (Rumpole on Trial), he also mentions “the wrong overcoat taken from the cloakroom of an expensive restaurant” as being part of an old case, but doesn't say which one.

  • In “Rumpole and the Family Pride” (Rumpole on Trial), he says the case raised some “interesting questions about bruising and the time of death”, which wasn't mentioned, but may have been part of the trial, although the time of death was never particularly important, and says “a careless pathologist” caused “bruising when removing the tongue during an autopsy” which almost certainly did not happen, especially considering the pathologist was Dr Percival Philimore, Dr Andrew Ackerman's predecessor and teacher, whose “pronouncements on matters of forensic medicine were to be received with the respect paid to Holy Writ”.

  • In “Rumpole and the Way through the Woods” (Rumpole and the Angel of Death), he mentions his “devastating cross-examination of the police surgeon” and meets Rollo Eyles “the prosecution junior” in the Penge Bungalow Murders trial. Neither are in R&TPBM, although he says Reggie Proudfoot was “one of” the prosecution juniors, so it's possible Rollo was merely not mentioned. Although Rumpole does not cross-examine any police surgeons, he has a victory when examining the pathologist, Dr Philimore.

  • In “Rumpole and the Rememberance of Things Past” (Rumpole Rests His Case), Rumpole recalls his first case with Mr Bernard, the instructing solicitor, as being “one of the Timson clan, … sowing his wild oats in the theft of lead off a church roof”. However, in R&TPBM, the first time he encounters Mr Bernard, he was the young assistant to Barnsley Gough, the instructing solicitor in R. v. Jerold, the Penge Bungalow Murders case.

  • In “Rumpole and the Primrose Path” (Rumpole and the Primrose Path), Rumpole mentions “the bullet found embedded in the radiogram”. Although this might have happened, in R&TPBM the only bullets missing from the pistol had struck the two victims.


  • In “Rumpole and the Younger Generation” (Rumpole of the Bailey), he mentions his cross-examination on bloodstains.

  • In “Rumpole and the Heavy Brigade” (Rumpole of the Bailey), Rumpole says “they let me loose on” [the Penge Bungalow murder case].

  • In “Rumpole and the Golden Thread” (Rumpole and the Golden Thread), Rumpole says the “shadow” of the death penalty fell over every day of the trial.


  • In “Rumpole and the Showfolk” (The Trials of Rumpole), he says the trial was at Lewes Assizes, which is near Brighton on the south coast of England, about 50 miles south of Penge, London.

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