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Fatal Drowning at Goadby Marwood

The tranquil fishing pond located between Manor Farm and Eastwell Road provides a peaceful Sunday retreat for many anglers. Swans plough majestically through the water, dragonflies flit among the reeds, and the branches of the hawthorn are thronged with songbirds, the pretty scene offers no clue to the tragedy that took place there almost 100 years ago.

William Edward Talkes, known in the village as Teddy, was born on December 30th, 1923, the son of Frederick Talkes from Threekingham and Rose Maud Geeson from Waltham on the Wolds. Fred and Maud had moved to Goadby Marwood with their baby daughter in 1922, and Teddy was born in the village at the family home, Field Cottage.

In the days before motor cars, it was common for young children to play away from their gardens and Teddy would have had many young friends in the village. On a sunny afternoon in late August 1928, an escapade with one of his friends was to lead to Teddy’s tragic death. The details of the subsequent inquest were reported in the local newspapers:

A sad drowning fatality occurred at Goadby Marwood on Monday, the victim being William Edward Talkes, aged four years and nine months, son of Mr. Frederick Talkes, waggoner in the employ of Capt. R. T. O. Sheriffe J.P., Goadby Hall, the little fellow being drowned through falling into a disused ironstone quarry while endeavouring to catch butterflies.

At the inquest, conducted by the District Coroner, Mr. A. P. Marsh of Melton Mowbray, on Tuesday, the mother, Mrs. Rose Maud Talkes, stated that on Monday, after dinner, deceased went out to play and she did not see him again alive. About five o’clock, Mrs. Mackley came and told her that her little boy, Raymond, had come home and said that Teddy had fallen into the water.

To witness’s knowledge deceased had never played near the pit before; it was two fields away from their house. He usually played close to home. She thought the child was with his sister, whom she heard near the house. Raymond Mackley, seven years of age, said on Monday he went with Teddy Talkes to try and catch butterflies. He had a net and deceased a jar. The were walking along Mr. Holmes’s field by the side of the water when Teddy slipped on a stone and fell in. He ran home and told his mother. George Wm. Richards, electrical engineer, engaged on work at Goadby Hall, stated he was at Mrs. Mackley’s house when last witness came and said deceased was in the water. Witness at once went to the pit and dived in a considerable number of times, but could not find any trace of the body. At the spot where the child had fallen in, the water would be from ten to twelve feet deep.

P.S. W. H. Jones of Waltham, said the body was recovered about 7.45. Dr. William Arnold, of Waltham, stated there were no external marks of violence, and he came to the conclusion that death was due to asphyxiation following drowning. The Coroner recorded a verdict of “Accidental Death,” and warmly commended the witness Richards for his prompt and plucky efforts in the attempt to rescue the child.


Teddy’s mother, Maud, never really got over the death of her young son. She was ill for quite some time afterwards, and Teddy’s older sister, Annie Elizabeth, known to the family as Nancy, moved to Waltham to live for a while with her maternal grandmother. Maud Talkes died in 1944.

Nancy later returned to Goadby, where she lived at Norman Cottages with her widowed father, Fred. She later married and raised three sons of her own. Nancy continued to live in the village until her death in 2020. 

Field Cottage aerial view 1979 .jpg

An aerial view of Field Cottage taken in 1979.

The Talkes family lived in the cottage on the left when they moved to the village in the early 1920s.

Teddy Talkes.jpg

William Edward 'Teddy' Talkes, aged about 4 years.

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