History: The case of the theft in Northbrooks

HERTFORDSHIRE Constabulary’s website has a fascinating history section, which we like to dip not now and again.

Here is one from the archive.

Mrs Sarah Rose Springham, of High Wych, was charged at Harlow Bench on Saturday with breaking into the dwelling house of Mr A.R. Steele, Northbrooks, Great Parndon, and stealing a brass hanging lamp, value 4s 6d, on 5th June, 1918.

Samuel Burton, gardener, said that he was caretaker at Northbrooks, which was empty except for some hanging lamps. On the 4th of June, everything was all right, but on 5th June he found the house had been broken into, one lamp stolen, some pot plants taken from the windows, and flowers removed from the garden.

A schoolboy named Mead said he saw a woman carrying a bag from which a lamp glass protruded.

Police Constable Thorogood said that he visited the defendant at her cottage at High Wych, where she admitted breaking into the house and taking the lamp, which she handed to him.

The defendant pleaded guilty and told a remarkable story. She said she was walking from High Wych to Waltham Abbey to see her daughter, who lived there. She had not a penny on her, and when she came to Northbrooks she went to the house, but found it unoccupied.

She broke a window and got through, and then lit a fire, boiled some water, made some tea, and cooked a rasher of bacon which she had with her. She also made and cooked a pancake with some flour which she had. She took some flowers and plants, which she gave to her daughter at Waltham Abbey when she got there. She had lost 2 sons in the war, one at Mons and one at Gallipoli. She had a daughter in the W.A.A.C. and another in munitions at Waltham Abbey. She took the lamp to light her through Epping Forest, as on a previous occasion, when walking in the dark through the forest, she had fallen into a ditch. She thought the lamp would be useful in helping her to find the way.

The Chairman, Mr Joseph Todhunter, said that in view of the woman’s statement she would be bound over in £5 to keep the peace for 12 months.

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