Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mystery of a double life in Sherborne, Dorset - 1902

 The mystery of a double life in the West of England has been brought to light. It was first brought to notice by the discovery that Mr Edmund Hall, an accountant and bee-keeper, who had resided for nineteen years at Oborne, a little village a mile from Sherborne, Dorset was in reality Colonel Edmund Carter Plant, C.B., Colonel commanding the 2nd Gloucester Volunteers, R.E., master at Clifton College, with a residence and until 1900 a wife in Bristol.

Mr Hall, who was about sixty, went on Sept 1 to the farm of Mr Ryall, of North Wootton, in order to "drive" some bees.

After this operation he was sitting at tea with Mrs Ryall and his own little son, who had accompanied him. Suddenly he got up from the tea table, and remarking, "I'm going to faint," fell forward and immediately expired. An inquest was held next day, and the jury returned a verdict of "Death from natural causes i.e., heart disease." Two days later, the Bristol papers appeared with long obituary notices of Colonel Plant CB., who was decorated in 1897 for his services to the Volunteer movement.

This gentleman was a Hampshire man, who settled at Bristol in 1861, first as a science master at the old Trade and Mining School in Nelson Street, and subsequently at Clifton College. He was married in 1865 to Miss Frances Colchester, of Ashleworth, Gloucester, a lady who died in January, 19OO. The manner in which Colonel Platts death was announced was vague. It was stated that he died quite suddenly while at tea on the Monday in Dorsetshire, where be was spending his summer holiday."

This resemblance to the death of Mr Edmund Hall was at first noticed as curious in Sherborne and there was still more interest aroused when the news came that Mt Edmund Hall instead of being buried with his two sons in Oborne churchyard was to be buried at Bristol on Sept. 6.

Curiously enough, it was announced in the Bristol papers that Colonel Plant would be buried with Military honours on the same day at Bristol. The upshot was the discovery that "Edmund Hall" and Colonel Plant were the same person.

In the anxiety to maintain the secret of Colonel Plant's double life the, name of Edmund Hall was engraved on the coffin plate. The reasons for this strange double life so long maintained have not been disclosed, but it is stated that the dead man's surviving children at Oborne were entirely unaware of his identity until after his death.

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