Date: 5 Feb 1913
Place: 15 Station Terrace, Wimborne
The skeletal remains of Ellen Griffiths were found at a house in Wimborne.
The house had been occupied by two old ladies, but one of them, thought to have been Ellen Griffiths, had not been seen for some years.
The other lady was later charged with unlawfully failing to give notice of her death, which was thought to have happened in April 1910, but she was dismissed. It was said that the failure may have been due to ignorance or perhaps superstition.
Ellen Griffiths's body was found by the Surveyor and Inspector to the Wimborne Urban District Council as he was carrying out his duties under the Housing Act which involved an inspection of all houses under a rental of £16 in the urban district.
He said that he had called several times at 15 Station Terrace but had been unable to gain admittance as no one had come to the door.
The Surveyor said that he later made an appointment to inspect the property on the Tuesday but that when he went, whilst the woman let him in, she told him that the upstairs rooms were not ready and asked him to come back. The Surveyor said that in deference to her wish he withdrew and agreed to come back the following day.
However, he said that when he came back on the Wednesday afternoon, he found that there was nobody at home and that all the doors and windows were closed.
He said that his suspicions were then aroused, and he obtained some ladders and tried to look through the bedroom windows but said that the blinds were drawn. He said that he then went over a neighbour’s wall and went into the back garden and then wrenched open the back door. He said that he then also found the inner door of the kitchen also locked and after receiving no answer again, he forced it open. He said that he then went in with a policeman who had been called, with lighted candles, as it was dark, and went upstairs and said that when they went into the back bedroom they found a complete skeleton on an iron bedstead covered over with a dark sheet.
It was said that every particle of flesh had disappeared and that it was evident that it had been dead for a long time.
It was thought that the skeleton was that of a female and it was later considered that it was that of the woman's companion, Ellen Griffiths, who had not been seen for some years, one neighbour saying that it had been about 7 years. However, it was also heard that Ellen Griffiths had been known to live her life as a recluse.
It was said that the fact that the electric light was rarely seen, and that smoke was not seen coming from the chimney had previously given rise to comment by neighbours.
It as said that the other woman had apparently been sleeping on a couch downstairs.
The room that Ellen Griffiths's body was found in was described as being sparsely furnished and noted that whilst the window had been whited over, there was also a screen between it and the bed.
It was heard that Ellen Griffiths and the other woman had lived together for about 30 years, having previously lived in London where they had been in service and that they had been living at 15 Station Terrace for the previous 10 years.
The other woman that shared the house with Ellen Griffiths, at the inquest, said that Ellen Griffiths had occupied the back bedroom whilst she slept in the front and said that about three years earlier when she was going out she noticed that Ellen Griffiths was in a very serious condition and said that she thought that she was dying and so gave her some rum, thinking that it would do her some good. However, she said that Ellen Griffiths then seemed to faint away and die.
She said that after that she went to work as normal and never told a soul about her friend’s death.
The friend added that Ellen Griffiths had previously told her that she did not want to be buried in Wimborne, either in the churchyard or the cemetery, and had told her that she would 'come up against her' if ever she was so buried. When the coroner questioned that, he was told that the woman thought that Ellen Griffiths would haunt her.
When the woman was asked if she believed in ghosts, the woman replied that she really thought that there might be something in it, and added that Ellen Griffiths had asked her to keep her body until such time that she herself died, at which time they could be buried together.
The woman added that before her death, Ellen Griffiths had spent a lot of money endeavouring to get £11,000 that had been left to her 40 years earlier, but that after spending about £30 in trying, she got nothing.
The woman also said that it was Ellen Griffiths who had white-washed over the back-bedroom window so that no one could look in, and added that she had re-done it since her death.
The inquest returned an open verdict stating, 'That the emaciated body of Ellen Griffiths was found on the 5th February 1913 at 15 Station Road, but that there was not sufficient evidence to show the cause of death or the date thereof'.
see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 07 February 1913
see Western Times - Tuesday 11 February 1913
see Western Gazette - Friday 07 February 1913
see Bournemouth Guardian - Saturday 08 February 1913
see Northern Whig - Tuesday 11 February 1913
see Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 11 February 1913, p3