AS part of our weekly Crime Files series, we are taking a look back at the archives to bring you stories from Herefordshire's history.

The following story dates from 1878.

MYSTERY surrounded the death of a woman found in a spot now popular with Herefordshire families and walkers in 1878.

The dead woman, who was identified as Miss Jane Jay, of Stockton Court, Kimbolton, was aged around thirty and was said to have been subject to fits of melancholy.

She had in September 1877 started living in rented rooms at the Kerry Arms in Hereford, where she had remained without paying until February 1878, when landlord William Smith presented her with a bill of more than £22.

It was reported that Miss Jay said she did not have the money and left, apparently to borrow money from friends to pay for her stay, but she was not seen alive again.

In May, a body was found at the foot of a maple tree in Dinmore Woods, an area that was at the time sparsely populated, with the road through the woods described as 'secluded'.


The body had wounds including a a three and a half inch long wound to the head, which a doctor said he thought unlikely to have been caused by a fall and reportedly declared likely to be the result of violent blows.

It was said she was unlikely to have died from exhaustion, exposure, or hunger, and it was a mystery as to why she had been found so deep in the woods.

The body was identified as belonging to Miss Jay by her clothes and scraps of paper found nearby, which turned out to be her hotel bill.

The police investigation found she had been seen walking in the direction of Dinmore from Hereford on February 19, and it was believed she was travelling home to Stockton.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of found dead but was unable to say how she had come by her death.

No-one was ever tried for her murder.