Its murder most foul!

It was on a foggy November night 144 years ago that James Rush emerged from the mist at Stanfield Hall near Wymondham with murder in his heart.

Beside himself with rage and wearing a feeble disguise he gunned down his landlord Isaac Jermy, the Recorder of Norwich, and his son, leaving his wife wounded and maid Eliza Chesney crippled.

It was one of the most dreadful Victorian murders. It caused uproar and outrage throughout the land and five months later a huge crowd gathered outside Norwich Castle as Rush was brought to the gallows.

They cheered as the hangman did his job - the Victorians loved a good execution, and Staffordshire pottery pieces to commemorate the evil deed were snapped up.

As far as we know there is now only one full set - Rush, Emily Sandford (his mistress), Potash Farm (his home), Stanfield Hall and Norwich Castle - in existence.

The amazing and rare collection is highlighted in the new series of the popular antiques show Heirloom that returns to Anglia screens at 2.15pm tomorrow afternoon.

Says quest expert Henry Sandon: "My passion is for figures that represent terrible murder and crimes of the 19th century - I must have a bloodthirsty nature inside me!"

He tells how Rush bought Potash Farm, Wymondham, with the aid of a £5000 mortgage from Jermy but when pressed for repayment he shot the Recorder and forged the mortgage document to make it appear as if it had been repaid.

In the meantime, he met a girl called Emily Sandford in London, seduced her and encouraged her to come to Norfolk, promising they would marry if she had a child.

They never married and, unfortunately for him, when Emily realised what he had done she shopped him to the police.

"As the judge said in his summing up, if Rush had had the grace to marry this girl, she couldn't have gone into the witness box against her husband," says Henry.

At open auction the figures of the murderer and his girlfriend would now cost up to £400 each and the farms £300 apiece.

But despite the existence of fakes, there is thought to be only one surviving original model of Norwich Castle and it is fitting that the whole set is in the Castle Museum.

"If you did come across another castle and were able to get it for less than a few thousand pounds you'd be damned lucky," adds Henry.

Ref: Eastern Evening News, 26 October 1992