The Mirrored Murders of Mary Ashford and Barbara Forrest

Down the Rabbit Hole
6 min readMar 17, 2022

England’s hauntingly identical murders 157 years apart.

Mary Ashford and Barbara Forrest, both just 20 years old, spent their last hours alive dancing on May 27. In an otherwise picturesque place, just 5 miles outside of Birmingham, England, Pype Hyde Park has a dark past that haunts its residents to this day. In the small suburb of Erdington, two girls out for a good time were sexually assaulted and then killed. These unsolved murders are clouded with details that are too similar to ignore. So, It must be a serial killer right? Try again. Because these two identical murders happened exactly 157 years apart.

Let’s start at the very beginning, on May 26th, 1817, when 20 year old Mary Ashford was on her way to work in Birmingham, England. She stopped on the way at the home of Mrs. Butler. You see, her best friend Hannah Cox lived there and Mary was going to drop off some clothes to wear to a dance later that evening, as best friends do. After work, at 6 pm, Mary went straight back to Hannah’s house to change into her party outfit, and then the two were on their way to the dance at the Tyburn House. They were hanging out and talking with Benjamin Carter and Abraham Thornton, again as two young gorgeous girls would. Benjamin was talking with Hannah while Mary was being pursued by Abraham. All four headed out at midnight, walking down the main road, Chester Road when Hannah decided to call it a night and headed back to Mrs. Butler’s alone. So, with his interest having ditched him, Benjamin went back to the dance while Mary and Abraham continued on toward Mary’s grandfather’s home where she lived. What happened next, your guess is as good as mine, but at 4 am the next morning, Mary returned to Hannah’s place in order to grab and change back into yesterday’s work clothes. As any and every best friend would, Hannah first questioned her, even grilled her, about what happened last night with Abraham. Without any anxiousness or hesitation, Mary told Hannah that she just spent time with him before he left. Then, witnesses saw Mary leaving Hannah’s house for work, walking along the road alone a little after 4 am.

Just a few hours later, Mary was discovered dead. At 6:30 am on May 27, a worker named George Jackson stumbled upon a bundle of clothing, a hat, and shoes near a pit filled with…

Down the Rabbit Hole

I write about true crime, mysteries, and anything that’s pulled me down a rabbit hole. Good luck climbing out.