Bidden Lane Mystery


Does anyone recognise this woman or the cottage? JB sent the picture last week with two bits of information:

1) The cottage is number 67 Bidden Lane

2) The woman was the school cleaner for many years

However, these two statements present a problem, because Susie Found was the school cleaner for years and years but she lived at number 65 Bidden Lane. So, if one of the statements is correct, the other is wrong.

If the cottage is indeed number 67, who is the woman? Abdon Thomas Poolman and his wife Martha Annie nee Cooper lived at 67 from before 1891 to Abdon’s death in 1928. So the woman could be Martha, who was a housemaid before she and Abdon married in 1887 and produced five daughters.

If the woman pictured is Susie Found, then the cottage is number 65, because Susie lived in that cottage from before 1911 until she died in 1949.This was before 65 was combined with  66 and the larger porch added. Susie was unmarried and a general servant, she cleaned the Baptist Chapel as well as the school.

Any ideas anyone? Comments and suggestions welcome!



Now we have the reverse of the postcard thanks to SB who found it. More clues here. It is dated 1907, posted in Boscombe, Bournemouth, signed by S Found and  addressed to Miss E Found in Bristol, presumably S Found’s niece as she signs off ‘your loving Auntie’. It reads as if the sender is the subject of the photograph because she says: ‘Hope you will all like it’. This all points to the cottage being 65 Bidden Lane and the writer being Susanna Found, known as Susie.

However, some parts do not add up. First the added notes: ‘Grandpa Found’s mother’ and ‘Mrs Found’, as we know that Susie Found was a spinster all her life.

Update 2:

I think we may have solved the mystery! My two sleuthing gurus have set their minds to it and together we have come up with this explanation.

Susan or Susanna Found, born 1869, lived in Bidden Lane, Chitterne St Mary most of the time with her parents, Edmund Found and Elizabeth nee Payne, until Edmund died  in 1899, and then with her mother and brother James who moved across the road to number 65 Bidden Lane, Chitterne All Saints, between 1901 and 1911. Except that in 1891 Susie is away from home boarding in Pokesdown, Hampshire with several other Chitterne girls, and later we found her in Hastings, Sussex working at the Queen’s Hotel as a laundry-maid. This means that the postcard she sent to Miss E Found in 1907 from Boscombe near Bournemouth was probably posted while Susie was working away.

The Miss E Found, or Dear Edie, we have discovered is Edith Dora Elizabeth Found 1885-1969, the daughter of Susie’s eldest brother William who lived in Bristol and worked as a guard for the Great Western Railway. The Archie referred to is Edith’s brother Arthur Archibald Found born 1894.

Next we come to the added notes on the postcard: ‘Mrs Found’ and ‘Grandpa Found’s mother’. If Susie was working away from home before and during 1907 then it follows that she is not the person in the photograph. Again, bearing in mind her age of 38 in 1907, we think the woman pictured is probably older than that, so, could the person be Susie’s mother Elizabeth Found nee Payne? We think so. Elizabeth would have been in her late 60s in 1907. If it is her then the two notes added to the postcard in another hand make sense, Elizabeth was certainly Mrs Found, and if William is the ‘Grandpa’ referred to, then she was certainly his mother.

One more thing: the school cleaner comment made to JB by the late Bill Windsor. Susie was the school cleaner, but could her mother have been the cleaner before Susie took the job on?

Just to round the whole story off: Elizabeth Payne was born in Chitterne St Mary in 1838 to John Payne and Sarah Ashley and married Edmund Found from Imber when she was 17 in 1855 at her local church. Elizabeth and Edmund had 12 children, 6 boys and 6 girls, 10 of whom survived infancy, Susie was the seventh child. Elizabeth died in 1911 aged 73 years and is buried in the graveyard at Chitterne St Mary.

Bidden Lane Mystery

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