Somerset County Herald 10 Mar 1945 A Condemned House Taunton Family Caroline Leah GOLDSWORTHY 74 South Street Sarah Jane KENT 3 Mount Street Charles Albert KENT

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Somerset County Herald and Taunton Courier. Saturday 10 Mar 1945

Page 3 Column 3




Taunton borough magistrates on Wednesday – Mr. F. H. F. CALWAY (chairman), Mrs. B. A. HECTOR and Mrs. L. P. MARSHALL – asked the Town Missioner to visit the home of a soldier's wife and her six children, from 12 years to 18 months old, with a view to giving any possible help.

The mother, Caroline Sarah Leah GOLDSWORTHY (34), of 74, South-street, Taunton, was charged with neglecting her six children in a manner likely to cause them unnecessary suffering or injury to health on February 12th and previous dates. She was defended by Colonel G. P. CLARKE and pleaded not guilty.

The Chairman said the Bench had considered the evidence very carefully, and, while they did not think Mrs. GOLDSWORTHY's home had been kept quite as clean as it might have been, they had decided to dismiss the case.

Mr. T. W. SAUL (prosecuting) said the case had been under consideration and review by the N.S.P.C.C. For a considerable time.


Inspector Leonard REED, N.S.P.C.C., said he visited the home on July 31st and warned the mother for allowing the children to be out until 10.15 p.m., when they were found by the police. The home was dirty and “smelly,” and witness advised her to clean it.

He next visited the home on August 12th at 10.35 a.m., when the mother and children were just getting up. On October 25th the house was still blacked out at 11 a.m., and on December 13th the school children were at home with impetigo sores, for which they were treated at the clinic. On December 29th, at 11.45 a.m., defendant and the children were still in bed.

Witness called again the following day, when the condition of the house was bad, and defendant said the house was so old that it was not worth doing. Conditions were a little better on January 30th, but on February 12th he received certain information from the police and visited the home at 3.15 p.m.

The five young children were there alone; they and their clothes were dirty, and there was no fire in the house. Defendant arrived home at 3.50 p.m., and when asked why she had left the children alone she stated she had had to go for a summons at 10.30 a.m. and also to get food, as there was none in the house.

Inspector REED agreed with Colonel CLARKE that the house was condemned, old and rather damp, and had no bath-room.

Colonel CLARKE: Have you tried to help her to get a more modern house?

Inspector REED: I have done my best, and spoken to various officials on her behalf, but the housing situation is impossible.

Defendant's husband (he added) was in the Army and witness had not communicated with him about the conditions in the home.


Dr. John ALLEN, the Borough Medical Officer of Health, said that when visiting South-street on the afternoon of February 12th he was called into defendant's house by Inspector REED.

The house was indescribably dirty, very scantily furnished, and without a fire, which, perhaps, was as well in the circumstances, because the five children where there alone. Witness formed the opinion that the whole family slept in one bedroom and that the other was not used. The bedclothes were dirty and appeared inadequate.

Witness examined the children, whose clothing was scanty and dirty. One child about a year old was sitting on some filthy material in a perambulator, which contained bits of stale bun.

When Mrs. GOLDSWORTHY returned witness told her he considered she was not fit to have the care of children if she would leave them in such conditions.

He advised Inspector REED to remove the children to a place of safety, as he (Dr. ALLEN) considered that the conditions under which he found them were injurious to their health and would cause them unecessary <sic> suffering.

The bodies of the children were not so dirty as witness would have expected under the circumstances.


Mr. George CHINN, school attendance officer, gave evidence that the children of school age had attended irregularly and had often arrived too late to have their attendance marks. Defendant had told witness she had no clock and could not afford to buy one out of her Army allowance.

Evidence was given by several neighbours that they had heard the children crying when they were alone in the house, and on one occasion a person entered the house to light the gas.

It was also alleged that the children had stayed out of doors late at night.

Defendant gave evidence that she came to live at Taunton from Pitminster, where she had a Council house, because of shopping difficulties. Her husband had been in the Army five years and for the past three months her total allowances had been £5 10s a week. She paid 12s a week rent and 2s 6d insurances, and food cost about £3 a week.

She had the children went to the pictures once a week, and except for this outlay her money was spent on necessities.

She admitted that on February 12th she was away from home from 10.30 a.m. until 3 p.m., but this was unavoidable. Her children were healthy and she did her best to provide adequately for them and to keep the house clean.

It was seldom that she had to leave the children alone.


In reply to Mr. SAUL, defendant said the reason they all slept in one room was that the floor in the other room was rotten and the bed was liable to go through it. On certain occasions when she had got up late she was unwell. She was short of blankets and would like to buy some by instalments.

Mrs. Sarah Jane KENT, of 3, Mount-street, Taunton, said she formerly lived with defendant (her daughter), and now visited her, and defendant did her best to look after the children and the home properly.

Charles Albert KENT, brother of defendant, also gave evidence. He said he had been in some thousands of homes in Taunton, and defendant's was the worst house in the town in which a woman had to bring up six children.


Colonel CLARKE said it was significant that although defendant's home was visited at intervals by a Corporation nurse there was no evidence that she had complained of the conditions she found. Defendant was seriously handicapped in having to bring up her family in a house that was condemned by the local authority as long ago as 1936.

Although defendant's husband was in the Forces he had received no official communication regarding the case, and he (Colonel CLARKE) felt that with all the welfare work being done for the dependents of Service men defendant might have received some blankets or other assistance.

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