Hanslope Park Tragedy 1912
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Norfolk12
N 52° 06.830 W 000° 49.548
30U E 648872 N 5775928
Quick Description: murder of Squire Watts
Location: United Kingdom
Date Posted: 1/31/2008 11:49:19 AM
Waymark Code: WM32PX
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member cache_test_dummies
Views: 73

Long Description:


On Sunday 21st July 1912 as was customary, the 67-year old Edward Hanslope Watts, Squire of Hanslope Park, accompanied by his wife Edith, left his country mansion to walk the one and a half miles to Hanslope Church. It was a fine summer's day with temperatures over 80 degrees, which caused particular discomfort because of the amount of clothing worn in the fashions of the day. The Squire walked slightly ahead of his lady wife during what must have been a tiring and dusty journey in those days of unmetalled roads.


The bells of St. James the Great Church were pealing as they were met at the west door by the vicar Rev. William J. Harkness

The Squire no doubt went to his traditional seat in the Watts family pew in a gallery at the east end of the north aisle. The "pew" consisted of a row of chairs behind the oak-panelled front on which a tablet in memory of his father occupied a central position over door of the family vault. He placed his gloves on a spare seat and then concentrated on his devotions.

Squire Watts' pew was situated in the gallery above the vault, overlooking the congregation at the Parish Church of St James the Great, Hanslope.

Mrs. Watts however occupied a pew reserved for the family on the north side of the Church. She apparently had a good voice and could make a better contribution to the singing of the choir from that place. It would seem that the service was uneventful except that as this was the 7th Sunday after Trinity, the prescribed second lesson taken from the Acts of the Apostles contained a reference to murderers. But this had no particular significance for the unsuspecting Squire.
When the service ended the Squire and his wife left the church and proceeded along Church Walk beside the memorial grounds and down Park Road which led to the Mansion, their home.


The heat must have been most trying but the stoic pair had their comfortable home to look forward to, with perhaps a glass of sherry before lunch. On their way home, they met two little girls pushing a pram, and then towards the end of their return journey they met the Village GP Dr. Rutherford who dismounted from his bicycle to exchange pleasantries with them. Little did he know how soon he would see them again in vastly different circumstances.
Back at the Church, Rev. William J. Harkness had discovered that the Squire had left his gloves behind - no doubt he felt no need for them on such a hot day. The Sexton was immediately dispatched on his bicycle to return them to the Squire, but the Squire was destined never to recover these particular items of mislaid property.

The Squire and his lady proceeded through the quiet countryside he had known all his life. He was walking a few paces in front of her as they approached their much beloved home.



They were passing through a small strip of woodland called North Spinney. The Park's main entrance with its gatekeeper's lodge was a mere twenty yards ahead of them when the peace of the day was shattered by the blast of a shotgun which came from the left. The Squire fell to the ground with a serious head wound from which he almost certainly died instantly. With a scream, the Squire's wife rushed to comfort him. In the entrance lodge, Mrs Green the coachman's wife heard the sound of gunfire, looked out of the window, saw the squire and his wife on the ground, and came running out. She was told to summon the doctor immediately. A second shot had hit the squire. It can never be known whether or not it was intended for the wife. If it had been, thankfully it missed its chosen target.


Will Green, the son of the coachman, was sent to get help. He set off for Hanslope on his bicycle, found Dr Rutherford and also his own father, George Green, who immediately set off for the Park. Some local residents had already gathered, including Mr Frederick Garratt. As George Green approached the stricken squire and his devastated wife, a further shot was heard in the woods away to the left. On entering the spinney to investigate - an act which took some courage considering the circumstances - George Green discovered another body. It was that of the Squire's head gamekeeper, William Farrow. He was on his back; across him lay a shotgun. He had taken his own life by shooting himself through the mouth.
At this point PC Cooper, the village policeman, arrived on the scene. He had been found by William Green and had borrowed the young man's bicycle. As he arrived he heard George Green shout that he had discovered Farrow's body. Dr Rutherford, who had arrived shortly beforehand, pronounced Squire Watts and William Farrow dead at the scene.

Amid the confusion, the Sexton bringing the Squire's gloves presumably could do no more than take them to his home to avoid any further distress. Only quite recently they were found in a trunk stored by a relative in the attic of her house. She sent them to the late Sid Garratt (nephew of the Frederick Garratt mentioned above) who handed them to the Hanslope & District Historical Society for the archives.

thanks to the Mk Heritage website for the above details

PLEASE TAKE A PHOTO OF THE PLAQUE onthe seat at the scene

Date of crime: 07/21/1912

Public access allowed: yes

Web site: [Web Link]

Fee required: Not Listed

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