Farmer's Mysterious Death
The spring of 1927 saw a tragic and mysterious death occur in one of Goadby Marwood’s most notable families.
Frederick Holmes was born in the village of Freeby in 1873, to grazier Edward Holmes and his wife, Ann Lucy Cook, who was born and raised at Pitfield Cottages near Cranyke Farm in Goadby Marwood.
In 1899, Frederick married Catherine Rippin from the nearby village of Wymondham. The couple moved into The Manor on Main Street in Saxby, where two daughters, Ida Ella and Catherine Lucy (known to the family as Kit), and a son, John Albert, where born. Sometime between 1906 and 1908, the family moved to Charity Farm in Stoughton, where a third daughter, Julia Mary, was born. The family later moved to a large farm at Cold Overton. All of the children helped out on the farm with Kit looking after the poultry, the calves and the milk separation, and John responsible for the milking and the horse breeding. Ella regularly rode to neighbouring villages to sell butter made on the farm.
In 1924, Frederick Holmes purchased a large house and farm in Goadby Marwood from William Carter, whose family had lived at the property for three generations. Frederick and Catherine named their new home The Manor. The farm came with 230 acres of arable and pasture land as well as a foreman’s lodge and two labourer’s cottages. The family seemed happy and well settled in their new home, and on March 27th, 1927, they celebrated John’s 21st Birthday in fine style. Just five days later, on April 1st, tragedy struck when Frederick died in mysterious circumstances. The inquest was reported by the Grantham Journal on April 9th:
Farmer’s Death by Falling in a Well.
The death took place under distressing circumstances yesterday (Friday) week, of Mr. Frederick Holmes of Goadby Marwood, a farmer well known and respected in the Melton district, whose body was recovered from a well on his farm.
An inquest was conducted by the District Coroner, Mr. A. P. Marsh of Melton Mowbray, on Monday.
John Albert Holmes, son of the deceased, gave evidence of identification and added that his father appeared alright and in his usual health when he came down stairs about 6.30 on Friday morning.
He has suffered from epileptic fits ever since witness could remember, but had not seen him in one lately.
His Father was about the farm in the daytime and about 6.15 pm, on the deceased instructions, witness took some cows to the barn and afterwards went to Harby. He did not see deceased alive again.
Anthony Hand stated that he had been employed by the deceased for about 10 years. On Friday at about 7.15 pm, as deceased had not returned home, Mrs Holmes got anxious about him, as he had suffered with fits and enquiries were made, and eventually he and John Wm. Greetham went and looked near the well, as Mr. Holmes had stated he was moving the beast there, and they found the body in the well.
When the deceased had fits he used to wander about and get lost. John Greetham, brother in law to the deceased, corroborated. Dr. Wm. Arnold, Waltham, stated, he found the deceased lying on the bank and he was then dead. There were no markings of external violence and he came to the conclusion that death was due to asphyxia, caused by drowning. He had attended the deceased for some time past for epilepsy and last saw him professionally in March 1926.
Deceased fits were of severe nature and he would fall down immediately they commenced. If near the well when one occurred, he would not have the opportunity to get away from it.
After a fit, deceased would be in a state of confusion and might get into the well without knowing what he was doing.
Thomas Coleman, general foreman of the Eastwell Iron Ore company, said Mr. Holmes was in the habit of keeping some tools on the well side of the fence.
The Coroner recorded a verdict of Accidental Death.
The well in which Frederick died is now disused but was located in a field near to White Lodge on Eastwell Road. Catherine Holmes and her children remained in Goadby Marwood following Frederick’s death, and several of Frederick and Catherine’s grandchildren and greatgrandchildren still live in Goadby and the surrounding area. Frederick’s son, John, continued to work the large farm and added several other properties to the substantial estate, and his son, Michael, farmed the properties until his death in 2015.
The Manor on Main Street, where Frederick Holmes lived with his family. The photo was taken c. 1930s.
Frederick's daughters, Ida Ella, Katherine Lucy and Julia Mary, on the steps of The Manor.
Frederick's son, John Albert Holmes, showing a young foal.
Frederick's widow, Catherine Holmes, on the front steps of The Manor, c. 1930s.