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1911: Mystery in Ashenground Road - House ransacked but nothing stolen!

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 10 January 1911




At the far end of Ashenground Road, Haywards Heath, within a short distance of the wood, stands Ashenhurst, a house occupied by two ladies—Miss Mockett and Mrs. Pitcher. On the day preceding New Year’s Eve the premises (which were left unoccupied, the occupants before Christmas having gone to stay with friends living out of the town) were all right, according to the person who had to look round.

Ashenground Bridge near the mysterious break-in

On the following Monday afternoon a young fellow named Pledge, in the employ of the Haywards Heath Gas Company, went to the house on business, but failing to make anyone hear, and noticing a window open, he called at Ashenground with a view to finding out if the people at Ashenhurst were at home. The gardener, John Shaxon, replied in the negative, and on being told that a window was open he went to the premises, accompanied by Pledge; The doors were locked, but on looking through the dining room window, the blind of which was down, Shaxon saw the room in great disorder.

Thinking it best to make further investigations, Shaxon decided to enter the house. He found the dining room topsy-turvey - drawers being open and the contents strewn all over the floor. The hall also presented a scene of confusion. Entrance to the premises had evidently been gained at the back, for the kitchen window shewed signs of having been forced open, the catch being broken. The kitchen drawers were open and store cupboard the scullery had also been tampered with. On the scullery table were four pairs of nut crackers and other articles which were known to have been left in the dining room. The wine cupboard had been forced open, and also other cupboards which had been locked, but strange to say nothing was taken away. The upstair rooms presented as strange a sight as did those below. “You could not have had a worse pickle if you had let some youngsters into the place and told them to do as much mischief as possible” was how it was put to us. Right and left drawers were open, and clothes were lying all over the floors, together with a quantity of silver articles, a gold watch and carriage clocks. A cash box had been broken up, and the contents (papers and documents) cast aside. Everywhere there was candle grease, shewing that whoever entered the promises did so while it was dark. The object in view, no doubt, was to find money, and it must have been a bitter disappointment to the housebreaker to have toiled so hard and failed, no money was left behind by the ladies.

Mr. Shaxon sent for the police, and a wire was sent to Miss Mockett, who was staying with Mr. and Mrs. McKergow at Twineham. Mr. McKergow motored Miss Mockett to Ashenhurst, but so far the lady has been unable to find out that anything was stolen from the house. The police are without clue, and there is little hope of the mystery being solved them.


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