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1936: Brook Street rallies round tragic family after suicide and life changing injury

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 07 July 1936




A sensation was created in Cuckfield on Friday morning on it becoming known that there had been a shooting tragedy at Brook Street. The facts were placed before the Coroner for East Sussex (Dr E. F. Hoare), at the inquest he held in the afternoon at the home of Mr G. E. Smith in Brook Street.

It was revealed that Mr Frank Pattenden, on going to his cottage to get some matches, saw his son shoot himself and his daughter receive terrible gunshot wounds in the left arm. The shot man was Frederick Ernest Pattenden, a 35-year-old gardener employed at Bancroft, Balcombe Road, Haywards Heath (the residence of Mr E. B. Woollen).

Superintendent H. Moss(Haywards Heath) and Sergeant C. Cook (Cuckfield) attended the inquiry.

Frank Pattenden, the father was the first to give evidence. He said that for three or four nights his son had been rather


although at times he had talked and seemed alright. At 5 o'clock on Thursday afternoon witness

was coming out of Tanyard farm but his son passed him riding a bicycle. That, he thought, was unusual, because deceased must have come home across Borde Hill Park instead of coming round by the road. When witness reached home, his son was putting the bicycle away in the scullery, and he remarked that someone was "after him." Witness did not take much notice, except to tell deceased not to talk silly. Frederick had his tea and seemed rather quiet, but later in the evening he helped Mr W. Venn to put in some windows. When he subsequently went to bed, he called out "good night". The next morning (Friday) witness got up at 5:15, and his son came down at the usual time – about an hour later.

He left Frederick at his breakfast, and at 6:50 am prepared to go to work. His son, who seemed alright, said "good morning, dad." Having got outside the house, he wanted some matches, but found that he had none. Consequently he returned to the house, where he saw his son in a passageway with a double-barrelled gun in his hand. Deceased said "I cannot put up with this any longer, dad." Witness thought he was going to shoot a jay or something that had been annoying him through eating the peas.

It never occurred to him that his son meant to do something to himself. The next thing he saw, however, was his son squat down on the ground, put the butt of the gun on the ground with the barrel pointing towards his face and


Witness rushed towards deceased, got hold of him and struggled with him. His mouth was closed, and witness had difficulty in holding him. Just at that moment his daughter, Lily, came down. She came towards them and put her arm up as the gun, which had been loaded in both barrels, went off again.

The shot struck Lily in the left arm, but he did not know if any of that charge injured his son. Taking hold of his daughter, witness helped her into the scullery, leaving deceased in the passageway. He did not know anything about a third shot being fired. Mr Claude Selby, who lived nearby, came round and stayed with Lily while witness went to call a doctor.

In reply to the coroner, Mr Pattenden said that for some time his son had been strange and had said he was afraid to go for his wages. A little while ago he spoke about the notes being worthless, and said that they were “too old” and that he had burnt them.

CLAUDE FREDERICK SELBY, also of Brook Street told the Coroner that he was preparing to go to work on Friday morning when he heard a shot from the cottage in which the Pattenden’s lived. He took no notice at first, because he came to the conclusion that Frederick Pattenden was shooting pigeons. Later he heard someone scream, and so he went down to the cottage. There he saw Mr Pattenden senior holding Miss Lily Pattenden. Witness held her arm while Mr Pattenden


While doing this, he heard a third shot and looked into the passage way. There he saw Frederick lying on the ground, with his face bleeding, a gun being beside him. There were two spent cartridges in the breach of the gun and one on the ground. One of the used cartridges in the breach was jammed. Deceased apparently had two cartridges in the gun at first, and then re-loaded one barrel.

Dr C.C. Farr, of Cuckfield stated that he was called to the house and arrived at about 7:10 am on Friday. Deceased was lying on the floor in a pool of blood in a passageway, which was outside the house in the open air. There was a large hole in the lower jaw on the right hand side. The lower jaw and the roof of the mouth on the left side of the face were blown away. Deceased was breathing, and witness believed that he was conscious. He died 1 1/2 hours later, probably from laceration of the brain and haemorrhage. There were other injuries from which he might have died. As regards the daughter, Lily, her left arm was "shot to rags" from the elbow downwards. She was removed to the Haywards Heath Hospital in the Red Cross Ambulance, and her arm had to be amputated.

The Coroner observed that the daughter's arm would have been far enough away from the gun to allow the shots to spread.

P. C. B. Bridgeman, of Cuckfield, who went to the scene of the tragedy at 7 am, described what he found there, and added that a search was made, but no note from deceased could be discovered.

A verdict of "suicide while not of a sound mind" was returned by the coroner.

Brook Street c1920 (photograph courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)


Fellow members of the Brook Street working men's club – Mrs G. Hazelgrove, L. Murrell, G. Smith, and W. Venn - acted as bearers at the funeral, which took place yesterday (Monday) afternoon. The first part of the service was held in the parish church, the officiating clergy man being Reverend. G. K. ALLEN.

The chief mourners were Mr F. Pattenden (father), Mrs Rychlik, London (sister), Mr H. Pattenden, Haywards heath (uncle), Mrs Newman, Hurst, and Mrs Payne (aunts). Mr A. Pattenden, Mr E. Pattenden, Haywards Heath, Mr C. Selby, Mrs S. Hughes, Mrs Watts, Mrs J. Gaston, Cuckfield, Mrs Wheatley, Ardingly, Mrs G. Avis, Scaynes Hill, representing Mrs R. S. Botting. Haywards Heath (cousins). The Brook Street Men's club was also represented by Mr E. Hayter (chairman) and Mr A. H. Simmons.

Others present were Mr E. B. Woollen (deceased's employer) and Mrs Woollen (Haywards Heath), Mrs Blackstone, Mr and Mrs F. Brown(Haywards Heath), Mr Coomber, Mr F. Carr– Parquay (representing Mrs Sayers), Mrs Dance, Mr W. Dance Mrs E. Funnell, Mrs Fieldhouse, this is F. Gasson, Mr and Mrs B. Jenner (Haywards Heath), Mr C. Langridge (Haywards Heath), Mrs L. Murrell, Mr A. Manders (Haywards Heath), Mr F. Moore, Mrs Biggs, Miss Biggs, Nurse Stoner, Mrs G. Smith, Mrs Tyrrell and Mrs Venn. Floral tributes were sent by Dad and Lily, Ada, John and Johnny, sis, Bob and family. Uncle Harry, Bert and Eddie (Haywards Heath), Aunt and Uncle and cousin Maud (America).

Alf and Perce (Ardingly), Cousin Daisy and Will (Ardingly), Marge, Win, Bill and Sam, Aunt Nellie and Uncle Fred. Claude, Auntie Annie and Bessie (Haywards Heath) Alice and Frank. Mr and Mrs E.B. Woollan, Miss J. Woollan, Miss P. Woollan and Mr John Woollan The indoor staff at Bancroft, Mr and Mrs B. Jenner, A. Manders, Members of the Brook Street Working Men's Club, all the Brook Street children, two old pals, Walt, and Bill. Mrs Wickham Roberts and Esther. A pal, Miss Holloway (Haywards Heath), Mary Stoner. Neighbours and friends at Brook Street – Mr and Mrs Marchant, Mr and Mrs Tyrrell, Mr and Mrs Smith, Mr and Mrs Gaston, Mr and Mrs Kinsey, Mr and Mrs Gladman, Mr and Mrs Hillman, Mr and Mrs Fieldhouse, Mr and Mrs Turner, Mr and Mrs Riggs, Mr and Mrs Murrell, Mr and Mrs Todman, Mrs Dance and Mr W. Dance, Mr Stygall and Mrs Revell. Another tribute was inscribed "a few flowers from his own garden".

Mr Pattenden and family desire, through this medium, to return sincere thanks for the many kind messages of sympathy received in their bereavement and for the beautiful flowers.

On inquiry at the Haywards Heath Hospital yesterday (Monday) we were informed that Miss Lily Pattenden is as well as can be expected.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 25 August 1936


To the Editor of The Mid-Sussex Times.

Dear Sir, A short time ago the neighbourhood was deeply shocked by a tragedy that occurred in Brook Street, Cuckfield, whereby a young man lost his life, and his sister, trying to prevent his self-destruction, almost lost hers. She had to go to hospital, had to have her arm amputated, and nearly died, leaving the poor father alone, bereft of his children.

The local Working Men's Club is getting up a benefit whist drive, in order to start a fund to help Miss Pattenden, who is, of course, quite crippled for life. It occurred to me that, with permission of the Club Committee (the Club run by Mr. E. Hayter and Mr. G. E. Smith, both of Brook Street), one might beg you to allow one, in your columns, to make this fact known, in order that a wider circle (hearing what was being started) should have the chance to contribute—should they wish to do so—and so show their sympathy, and appreciation of the courage and self sacrifice shown, and minimise, as far may be, the terrible results.

I understand that Miss Pattenden gave up her work in order to come home and look after her father and brother. There is little need to dwell on what this means to her. A young woman dependent on her father, whom she must, in the natural course of nature, outlive! What lies before her ? There is no need to say. That she did not lay down her life for her friend was no fault of hers. She almost did. Is it impossible to hope that every attempt may lie made to prevent a state of absolute dependence on others, after risking her life as she did, and crippling herself, and almost losing it?

Anyone willing to help may send subscriptions, however small (it all mounts up), to Mr. G. E. Smith (Secretary to the Working Men's Club), Brook Street, Cuckfield, and the Committee have allowed me to say that anyone knowing me personally is cordially invited to send subscriptions to the fund through me. Yours faithfully.


Greenhaven, Cuckfield.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 13 October 1936

THE PATTENDEN APPEAL RESULT. —The members of the Brook Street Working Men’s Club, the Secretary of which is Mr. E. Hayter and the Hon. Treasurer Mr. G. E. Smith, desire, through this medium, to express their most grateful thanks for the splendid response made to the appeal on behalf of Miss Pattenden From all sources receipts totalled £84 0s. 6d. and after meeting expenses, the welcome sum of £79 17s. 6d. has been handed Miss Pattenden. She, too, associates herself with the thanks of the Working Men’s Club, being grateful beyond words to neighbours and friends for interesting themselves on her behalf.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 10 November 1936


To the Editor The Mid-Sussex Times.

Dear Sir,

—Will you allow me to thank the generous friends of Cuckfield and Haywards Heath who have given me the splendid sum of £85 to help me through my late trouble? I cannot tell you what I feel about it all, and I am sure they will understand that I can do no more than say, with all my heart, "Thank you!" I shall never forget the kindness or the friends. Yours faithfully,


Brook Street Cuckfield.



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