Date: 27 May 1947
Place: Chosen Hill, Churchdown
The skeletal remains of James Griffett Shurmer were found on Chosen Hill in Churchdown on 27 May 1947.
The remains were found by a 14-year-old boy in a thicket at a secluded spot on Chosen Hill in Churchdown.
His remains were later identified by his daughter after she examined a number of articles, including a watch and chain, a pocket knife, some keys and a pair of boots.
James Shurmer was a retired Corporation employee.
The coroner returned a verdict stating that James Shurmer was found dead on 27 May 1947 at Chosen Hill in the parish of Churchdown, stating, 'I cannot record the cause of death. There was insufficient evidence to show the cause of death by reason of the fact that he had been missing in July 27, 1946, and of the decomposition of the remains. It is quite impossible in spite of all scientific assistance, to establish what actually killed him. The probabilities were that he ran for shelter and that, in some way, injured himself and rolled into this thicket, where, unfortunately, he lay unaided and unfound for this period. Death must have been soon. The time that has elapsed since his body was found has shown how remote this place is'.
The 14-year-old boy that found James Shurmer's remains, who lived in Redgrove Cottages in Hatherley Lane in Cheltenham, said that he had gone to Chosen Hill on 27 May 1947 and had been returning by what he thought was a short cut down a bank in a secluded spot when he saw what appeared to be a skeleton lying in the undergrowth.
James Shurmer's daughter said that James Shurmer had lived with her and her two sisters and that he had left home at about 10am on 27 July 1946 to go for a walk and that he didn't return. She said that she notified the police later on the same day.
She said that when he had gone out, he had been wearing a pair of black boots, a brown suit and a blue trilby hat, noting that his boots had recently been repaired.
She also noted that there had been a heavy rainstorm at about 11am that day.
She said that she was able to identify a number of articles that were found amongst his remains, including his watch and chain which had been attached to his braces, his pocket knife, and his keys which she said fitted respectively into the lock of the dog kennel, the fowl-house and the back door to their home. She also identified his boots.
When James Shurmer was found he had some money on him, and his daughter said that James Shurmer always carried a considerable amount with him.
A man from Hill View Farm in Barnwood said that he saw James Shurmer on 27 July 1947 at about 10.30am, noting that a thunderstorm followed shortly after. He noted that he often saw James Shurmer going for walks.
The policeman that went out to look at the thicket and took photos said that the remains were very decomposed and had been there for a long time. He added that, for part of the way there was bracken and that it was steep and slippery and that it would have been very dangerous for an elderly person hurrying to get out of a thunderstorm.
A medical report produced by a professor from the Home Office Laboratory on James Shurmer's remains stated that there was no evidence of violence, but that there was some evidence of older injuries to his left eye and right leg. However, the post-mortem concluded that changes to his body were so far advanced that it was impossible to give any cause of death.
However, the professor said that due to the presence of money on his body that he thought that they could rule out a violent attack due to robbery.
see Gloucestershire Echo - Wednesday 11 June 1947
see Gloucester Citizen - Thursday 29 May 1947
see Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 14 June 1947