Murder;  swine fever, fire and much more

1787 – Amazing age attained by Woman

Ann Mellin died at the beginning of July 1787 at the incredible (for the time) aged of 102.

1787 – Tailor’s house set on fire

Benjamin Williams, a Tailor of Burghill, spent some time and effort building himself a small house. This dwelling was “maliciously set on fire by some wicked person or persons unknown”.

Benjamin pleaded for help in finding the culprits and offered the reward of a guinea for any information.

1895 – Cider a Temperance Drink?

For some time it had been claimed that cider was a temperance drink; however in the report of Burghill Asylum, according to the medical superintendent of the British Medical Journal, more people were admitted to the asylum because of the affects of drinking cider, than any other cause!

I can believe that!

1899 – Death of Man at Burghill Lunatic Asylum

Frederick Waite aged 33 was an inmate of Burgill Asylum;  he had been admitted on 7th January 1898 on the warrant of the Home Secretary from HM prison at Hereford.

Frederick’s parents lived in Chesterfield, but he himself had been wandering around the country, housebreaking and committing larceny until he was caught and tried in January 1898, after which he was sent to the asylum being considered quite insane.  He was also thought to be epileptic.

By the end of March 1898 his condition seemed to improve and he was given work in a tailor’s shop, but after a succession of fits he lost that job.  He grew worse, and witnesses said that he became very excited and appeared to have a gross brain disease – he became more demented and eventually died from exhaustion and gangrene of the lungs.

The surgeon said that Frederick had been well and properly treated at the asylum, and someone had been with him constantly for three months.

1899 – More from Burgill Lunatic Asylum

Dawson Wellington, an inmate of Burgill lunatic asylum, managed to escape and was missing for several days.

Dawson was considered to be deranged in his mind and very prone to deceit and lying, but not dangerous in any way.

He was eventually found wandering in fields in Leominster by a policeman, and was returned to the asylum

1896 – Annual Report of the Burghill Asylum

The annual report of the Hereford City and Country Asylum at Burghill was issued, and the Medical Superintendent Dr. Chapman declared that “Hereford has most patients in the asylum in proportion to its population, of any county in England or indeed the world, and the excess appears to consist largely of the aged and paralysed; of helpless and bedridden persons”.

He also protested about the introduction of yet more red tape caused by new legislation, which created a huge increase in work.

1907 – Swine Fever breaks out in Burghill

Mr. Sharland-Ball’s high class herd of pigs at Manor Farm Burghill, had to be destroyed following an outbreak of swine fever.

1908 – Experimental Orchard at Farm of Burghill Asylum

The Agricultural Education Committee of Herefordshire County Council made arrangements to set out an experimental orchard in accordance with the plans of the National Fruit and Cider Institute.

Six acres of land at Burghill Asylum would be planted with at least 25 varieties of fruit, some of which had never been tried before in Herefordshire.

1926 – Double Murder at Burghill Court – The Butler did it

The trial of Charles Houghton opened in November 1926, where he was charged with the murder on 7th September of two elderly ladies – Miss Elinor Drinkwater Woodhouse and Miss Martha Gordon Woodhouse who were his employers, at Burghill Court.

He had been in the service of the Woodhouse family for 22 years, initially as a Footman and then Butler. However, he became rather fond of the booze which didn’t go unnoticed by the ladies who didn’t like it one bit, especially as he was actually the only man who lived on the premises.

The ladies sacked Houghton on 6th September and he was given 24 hours to leave; he was given a month’s wages in lieu of notice and a month’s board money, and they told him that they would help him find another job. Houghton objected to the short notice, and eventually the ladies agreed to let him stay for a week – they were actually quite upset at the action they were having to take.

The next day after breakfast, he shot them both at close range with a sports gun.

At the end of his trial, he was given the death sentence, and taken to Gloucester Gaol.

Charles Houghton appeal against his death sentence as he languished in the condemned cell in Gloucester for the murder of Miss Elinor Drinkwater Woodhouse of Burghill Court. was not proceeded with.

There was a second indictment which charged Houghton with the murder of Miss Martha Gordon Woodhouse.

The solicitor for the defence, Mr. F. Craze of Hereford, laid the case and evidence before the Home Secretary, who declined to interfere with the death sentence.

Charles Houghton was executed in Gloucester Gaol on 3rd December 1926.

The two sisters were buried in the same grave in Burghill churchyard – their favourite pony drew a carriage full of flowers and wreaths.