Newspaper Report: Mrs Fanny Judges (1914)

Source: East Kent Gazette and the South Eastern Gazette - 1st August 1914

"Tragic Affair at Lynsted - Woman drowned in a well - Husband's unavailing efforts at rescue"

Death Announced (East Kent Gazette): Judges – July 27th at Rose Cottage, Dadmans, Lynsted, Fanny Frances, the beloved wife of Charles Henry Judges, aged 44 years.

REPORT - South Eastern Gazette

TRAGIC AFFAIR AT LYNSTED. WOMAN DROWNED IN A WELL. HUSBAND'S UNAVAILING EFFORTS AT RESCUE. In the middle of a smiling orchard in one of the most beautiful parts of this district a tragedy, which caused quite a sensation in the quiet country neighbourhood, occurred on Monday night. The victim was Mrs. Fanny Judges, wife of Charles Henry Judges, a gardener at Lynsted Lodge, and the details, as related at the Coroner's inquest, which was held at Rose Cottage, Dadmans, Lynsted, on Wednesday afternoon, were of a particularly painful character.

Mr. Charles B. Harris, county coroner, conducted the inquest, and the jury was composed of the following gentlemen, viz:- Messrs. W.R.Farmer (foreman), W. Mears, J.J.Dence, C.R.Busbridge, F.Smith, R.M. Packman, E.Champion, W.Russell, W.Smith, and A.S.George.

Charles Henry Judges, gardener, Japonica House, Ludgate-road, Lynsted, identified the body as that of his wife, who, he said, was 44 years of age. Up to about two months ago, he continued, she had very good health, but within the last two months she had been rather strange in her manner; she had expressed fear of her health, and said she thought she would never get over it. She had been attended by Drs Selby and Henderson. She had been living with his mother at Rose Cottage, Dadman's, for about three weeks, as she felt lonely in the village with practically everybody away fruit picking, and nobody to speak to. Before leaving for work about six o'clock on Monday morning he took her up a cup of tea, and she seemed very cheerful. He saw her again at breakfast time and dinner time, and she still seemed the same and when he came home to tea he thought she looked better than she had done for months. They were going to Hastings by motor for a day's outing the following day, and she had been looking forward to it. She had a good tea, and was very cheerful all the evening. In the evening he cut some sandwiches to take with them the next day, and while he did so she stood beside him laughing and joking. Just before they had supper she said "I wonder whether father has closed the gate, meaning the gate leading into the garden, and she then went outside, , leaving the door on the jar. Shortly after, his sister went out to see if his wife had been able to open the gate, as it was difficult to open, and came running back, saying that she was not there. He went out to look for his wife, and on going round the corner of the house he saw that the lid of the well in the orchard was up. The hurdles surrounding the well were not open. His suspicions being aroused, he called his sister back from the top of the orchard, and said to her, "My God, I think she is down the well." His mother and father then came out and he (witness) ran up the road for help. he found Mr. Russell and immediately ran back again. On reaching the well again, his father remarked "I wonder if she has put the well lid up just to frighten us," and to make sure witness called "Fanny" up the orchard. His mother said she thought she heard something down the well, and witness then called down the well, "Lovey, are you there!" and he got the answer "Be quick." He immediately lowered the rope, and called to her to hold fast to it. She did so, and he commenced to draw her up, but she slipped and fell back into the water. The well was 70 or 80 feet deep, and there was 20 or 30 feet of water in it. He ran the rope down again, and shouted to her to catch hold of it, and hold to it, as somebody had gone to get more help. She caught hod of the rope and called up faintly, "Be quick," and witness tried to draw her clear of the water.

The Coroner: Did you lower the bucket?
Witness: No. I didn't think of that at the time.
The Coroner: If you had it would have been something for her to rest on.

Continuing, witness said he drew his wife clear of the water, but she called out "I can't hold on. Be quick." She then slipped off the rope, and the last he heard of her was a moan and a long breath. He then ran to the forge, and asked Mr. Busbridge to go up with a grab hook, and it was about two hours later when the body was recovered..

In answer to the Coroner, witness said that a man volunteered to go down the well while he (witness) was away, but the curb of the well was not safe. "Some time ago," added witness, when he thought she was going to swallow her false teeth, he took them from her, and when he would not let her have them again, she said, "I will never do anything to myself, Lovey. I love you too much ever to go away from you."

William Edward Russell, labourer, St. Christoper's row, Lynsted, said that about twenty minutes to nine on Monday night the previous witness came to him, and told him he had lost his wife, and that he thought she might be down the well. They both ran down the road as fast as they could, and when they arrived at the well they shouted down it, but received no reply. Witness went round the orchard looking for her, and when he got back to the well deceased's husband was drawing her up out of the well. Just as witness arrived he heard deceased slip back into the water. The rope was again lowered, and witness ran off to get another rope and more help. When he got back he could hear nothing of deceased in the well.

In answer to the Coroner, witness said that several men would have gone down the well, but the curb was not considered safe.

Dr. J.F. Henderson, Greenstreet, said that about 9.30 on Monday night he received a message about deceased being in the well, and he was present when the body was brought up. Life was totally extinct; rigor mortis had set in, and it was useless to try artificial respiration. There were no external injuries on the body, except slight abrasions on the right arm and right leg, which might have been caused by the grab hook. The cause of death was, in his opinion, drowning. Along with Dr. Selby, he attended deceased in June, when she gave him the impression that there was something on her mind. She had delusions. Neither witness nor Dr. Selby felt justified in certifying her insane, as it was a border line case. She improved very rapidly, got rid of her delusions, and seemed quite normal again. They warned the relatives, however, to watch her closely, and he thought they did so to the best of their ability. In his opinion deceased had probably had a sudden irresistible impulse to throw herself down the well.

After the Coroner had reviewed the evidence the Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide during a fit of insanity."

After the jury had given heir verdict Dr. Henderson said that Mr. Judges, the husband, had been extremely unwell himself for a long time, and he would no doubt be very much upset when he discovered his wife was in the well.

The Coroner said he had no doubt Mr.Judges did the best he could, and the Jury entirely agreed.

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