Strange hidden cave at Burrington and tragic suicides

1793 – Burrington Bridge in Ruinous State

The bridge over the river Team at Burrington was in a dreadful state, and an advertisement was posted for workmen to tender their plans for repairing;  keeping in good repair, and leaving it in good repair at the end of a period of seven years.

1797 – Cave discovered at Burrington

Two lads were chasing a rabbit when it disappeared into a crevice in a rock;   not wanting to lose the rabbit, they enlarged the opening with a pick axe and were astonished to discover an underground tunnel which led to a huge cave.

The walls and roof were strangely carved, and from the top an inverted petrified cone dangled, which was almost joined to a similar one rising from the floor.  The lads struck the cones, and found that they emitted a loud musical sound.

Curious Skeletons

On the left side of the cave were many human skeletons lying in rather promiscuous positions, which were almost completely turned into stone.

Country folk from miles around flocked to see the cave and its secrets, and soon began to wreck it, so a neighbouring wealthy gentleman took charge and had a strong door fitted to the entrance in order to preserve what was left for Antiquarians and Naturalists.

1848 – A Child Burns to Death at Burrington

Martha Watkins went out late one afternoon, leaving her children, John aged one and a half, and her daughter aged three and a half alone in the house.  There was a fire in the hearth.

When Martha returned after an hour or two she could hear the children crying and rushed in to find little John with his clothes mere cinders and his body very badly burnt.   John lingered in agony for two days, before finally dying.

1857 – Opening of new school at Burrington

Andrew Boughton Knight erected the building, which consisted of a dwelling house;  school and classrooms, which was intended to serve Aston;  Downton and Burrington.

It was noted however that there was a rather sad contrast between this new building and the old church and later in the year it was proposed to rebuild the church as it was beyond restoration.

1857 – Suicide of James Corbet of Burrington

James Corbet had for years worked for Thomas Andrew Knight of Downton Castle, and was 68 when he died; he was well thought of by friends and acquaintances, but had been depressed for a while.

On the day of his death he was due to travel to Leintwardine to meet the daughter of the late Mr. Andrew Knight – something he frequently did when she came to the area.  However, when he got out of bed, he went downstairs, sat on a chair and putting a gun under his chin shot himself.

His wife rushed downstairs and on finding her husband screamed so loudly that she could be heard from a long way distant.

At the inquest, the verdict of temporary insanity was returned.

 

1858 – Naughty Grocer at Burrington

Benjamin Wall, a Burrington Grocer, was fined one shilling plus costs for using flour scales that were weighted against the purchaser.

1895 – Suicide of Farmer at Burrington.

Mr. Davies, a 50 year old widower living at Monsty Farm had for some time been very worried that he might lose the farm.  It seems that one of his general servants, Elizabeth Galliers, was expecting his baby and he never disputed his responsibility.  Elizabeth’s father paid several visits to Mr. Davies, begging him to send her away to stop the escalating scandal, and Elizabeth herself was happy to go if Mr. Davies found her a place.

However finding this place was not easy, and Mr.Davies finally asked Elizabeth to marry him the next week, to which she agreed.

After this he complained of being unwell, and asked Elizabeth to get him two tablespoons of rum, saying that he would get a license and they could be married within days.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth was having no luck in finding anyone to take her in for her confinement, and Davies was confiding with friends that he was having some trouble with the girl.

One Sunday he had his dinner as usual, then after a short talk with Elizabeth he left the house;  when he hadn’t returned some time later, his worried daughter went out with the servant to look for him but found nothing.  Mind you, they didn’t bother with the cow house because it was “so dreadfully dirty”.

Late at night, Mr. Davies’ son returned from a visit to Ludlow, and immediately went out himself to search – he soon found the body of his father hanging from a beam in the cow house.

The Inquest

It became apparent from witness statements that Davies had been very worried for some time, and that the whole thing with Elizabeth Galliers had got on top of him.

The verdict of the jury was “suicide whilst of unsound mind”