£25,000 Raid On Lonely Hall
Goadby Hall, situated in the centre of the village, has been the target of a number of break-ins over the years with the most recent taking place in February 2019, when thieves also stole the lead from the recently repaired church roof.
In 1983, two sisters received a nasty shock when one of them disturbed a burglar. Nellie Hadfield, and her sister, Elsie Crossley, kept house for Miss Monica Sheriffe, the then owner of Goadby Hall. Nellie’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, recalls her grandmother telling her that she surprised the intruder at the entrance to the dining room. "Grandma asked him, “Who the hell might you be!” He shouted out “Whoa!” and she froze to the spot with fear". The burglar made off with two very valuable and highly treasured mementos of Miss Monica’s beloved racehorses.
The incident was reported in The Melton Times on Friday November 18th:
Goadby Hall, north façade c. early 1980s.
A daring burglar escaped with £25,000 worth of jewellery in a raid on a local country home this week.
And the female butler of Goadby Marwood Hall, home of the reclusive Monica Sheriffe, told of how she came face to face with the thief.
Mrs. Nelly Hadfield, 63, said she had just bolted the front door to the house when she disturbed the man on Monday evening.
He was clutching two “priceless” family heirlooms – having been disturbed before having the chance to grab other antiques and silverware in the 17th century house.
And 80-year-old Miss Sheriffe told The Times this week: “The burglar seemed to know what he was looking for, unfortunately he knew too much because he took two priceless pieces with him”.
The pieces in question were mementos of two racehorses Miss Sheriffe owned – solid gold with the names of the horses encrusted in diamonds.
“They are absolutely irreplaceable but I would imagine they would be very hard to sell as they are. But thank goodness Nellie disturbed him before he took anything else,” she added.
The burglar left behind other gold and diamond items in his haste to get away. He did manage to take a gold cigarette case and the keys to Miss Sheriffe’s London flat.
Nelly, who lives at the hall with her housekeeper sister, Elsie Crossley, said she was both angry and relieved that the burglar got away through the front door.
“For a second I thought he was locked in and I wasn’t looking forward to a confrontation.
“I got a good look at him as he ran past me and started struggling with the locks. I was rooted to the spot with fear – but I still manged to ask him what he thought he was doing in the house,” she said.
She added that the man was about five feet six tall with rounded features, short dark hair and was dressed in a “pageboy” style.
Miss Sheriffe said that a further search of the house showed that the burglar had searched every room in the house in his early evening break-in.
And of Nellie she added: “She was very brave. She actually came face to face with him and suffered a nasty shock. We are just so grateful that nothing violent took place.”
A police spokesman said that house-to-house enquires were still continuing – and that police were trying to find what kind of car was used in the getaway.
The man is described as between 35 and 45 years old with dark brown hair, clean shaven and of rugged appearance. He was wearing a blue V-neck pullover, a red check shirt and light trousers.
Nellie Colclough and her sister Elsie were born in Goldenhill near Stoke on Trent, to coal miner, John William Colclough and his wife, Bertha Leese. Nellie was born in 1920 and was the youngest of three sisters, with Elsie born in 1911 and eldest sister, Lilian, born in 1909.
When the girls were still children, the family moved to Luddenden in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, to find work in the textile mills. All three sisters married and raised their families in Yorkshire. Sometime before 1971, with their children having left home, Elsie and her husband, Jack Crossley, moved to the Melton area where Jack found employment working as butler for Miss Monica Sheriffe at Goadby Hall, and Elsie was employed as housekeeper/cook. The couple lived in Waltham on the Wolds for a short time before moving to Norman Cottages on Towns Lane in Goadby Marwood.
In the late 1970s, when Jack became ill, Nellie, who was widowed by that time, moved to Goadby to help her sister, and decided to stay on. She moved into Hillfoot Cottages on Main Street and joined her sister working for Miss Sheriffe. The sisters also had rooms at Goadby Hall which they often used in the winter months when the weather was inclement, which is how they came to be on the premises the night of the burglary.
Between them, the sisters worked at Goadby Hall for over 25 years. Nellie left Goadby in the early 1990s and returned to Yorkshire to be close to her family. Elsie remained at Goadby Hall working for Miss Monica until ill-health forced her to retire in the mid-1990s. Elsie died in 1999 at the age of 88, and Nellie in 2007 at the age of 87.
Nellie’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, recalls often visiting her grandmother and great aunt at Goadby Hall when she was a little girl, and in February 2022, she kindly shared her recollections with The Goadby Marwood History Group:
"I had never met Auntie Elsie in Yorkshire, I first met her in the kitchens at the hall where she got to me first before Grandma and gave me such a huge tight hug, I actually felt my insides being crushed, until my Grandma tapped her on the shoulder and I was released.
"I remember a big flood at the hall, it was a dreadful downpour, we had been to Chapel and Betty [Betty Pizer who lived with her parents, Fred and Hilda, at Green Lodge, before moving to Stathern] drove us home, it was pitch black and bouncing with rain. I was carried in and placed on the sideboard in the kitchen, the whole floor was like a swimming pool. I never did understand how they got all the water out; I assume now it just drained away.
"There was a time when Prince Charles came to dine. Miss Monica asked my Grandma to “…run an iron over this chiffon dress would you knee-high”. She called my Grandma knee-high due to her being short. As she tried to iron it, it started to fall apart, as it was old and threadbare, so she took it back to Miss Monica and showed her the torn with age sleeve. Miss Monica wore it anyway and didn't seem to care. Apparently, Prince Charles showed an interest in buying the place for a country retreat, he asked my Auntie Elsie if she would stay on and serve him, she said, “Absolutely not!! I'll stay with Monica ‘til the day she dies and then I'll retire.” As it happened, Elsie had to retire before then due to ill health.
"Looking back, Grandma and Auntie Elsie often fell asleep in the sitting room. Knowing what I know now about stoves and flues, and the black marks around the fireplace, it's no wonder!
"I remember the little bridge that went over the lake at the bottom of the drive. When I walked over it some of the slats fell into the water, as there was no other way off the island, I had to walk back over the remaining slats which also fell into the water. My parents never found out it was me that broke the bridge. I was allowed to roam about as far as I wanted. Those were the days!!"
Norman Cottages on Towns Lane, c. early 1980s. Elsie and Jack Crossley lived in the righthand cottage.
Sisters Elsie (left) and Nellie, photographed in the grounds of Goadby Hall, c. early 1980s.
Elsie and Nellie photographed beside a beautiful classic car outside Goadby Hall, November 1983.
Vicky, the current owner of the hall recalls: “…the red Alpha Romeo was my ex-boyfriend’s car that we had come up to stay here in for Theresa Manners 21st birthday party at Belvoir Castle! We tried to have a bath but there was no hot water so we ran around with kettles!"
Young Elizabeth with her grandmother, Nellie, and standing (L to R), a neighbour, Elsie, and Elizabeth's mother, Audrey.
Nellie’s eldest son, Dudley, was a talented cartoonist. He often visited his mother in Goadby and captured the essence of that time in his drawings, several of which are reproduced below with the kind permission of Nellie’s granddaughter, Elizabeth.
This drawing shows Henry Prince, who lived at Norman Cottages next door to Elsie and Jack. Henry’s daughter, Gill, recalls: “Dad couldn’t remember names so anyone who’s name he was unsure of he called Joey. It was very confusing; I was never sure who he was talking about.”
This drawing depicts Miss Monica, who was well-known for her slightly erratic driving, careening around the local country roads. Elizabeth recalls: “Miss Monica wanted to take me into town for the day, when we were saying goodbye, when Grandma came back to Halifax. My dad flatly refused to let me go because of her driving. I see his point now but at the time I was very upset.”
This drawing relates to a time when both Nellie and Elsie were unwell and unable to attend to the various household duties they usually so ably performed. Sir John refers to Lord King of Wartnaby, chairman of British Airways, who was a friend of Miss Sheriffe’s.