In the middle of August 1946, a robbery took place at the house - a thief had gained access by scaling a stack-pipe and entering through a first floor window. The thief left scuff marks on the pipe and muddy foot-prints on the inside and outside of a window cill. When the police attended, they found the aforementioned signs of a break-in and one of the bedrooms had been ransacked. In addition, there was an attempt to gain access to a locked ground-floor room and signs that the pantry had been raided. The occupant of the property, Mrs Ogilvy reported the jewellery that was missing had a value of £250 Following some inquiries, a man, Henry Major William George Godden, who was known to the police as being a prolific burglar, was arrested on The Ridge; a girl who he had been with, Doris Styles, had reported to the detective that she had accompanied Godden to the house and, following the break in, had been shown jewellery alledgedly stolen from the property. The girl then led the detective and his prisoner to Beauport Park, where she revealed the spot where the stolen items had been buried. Upon a police sergeant scraping away the earth, a metal tin was revealed - this containing a number of pieces of jewellry. On being formally charged, Godden stated "I plead not guilty" and refused to answer the charge when it was formally repeated. At the indictment, bail was refused and Godden remanded into custody.
The case came to trial on the 29th of August, 1946, when Henry Godden, of The Ridge appeared in the dock at Hastings Magistrate's Court. There was a struggle after Godden's bail had been refused - he resisted the efforts of three police officers attempting to remove him from the dock after shouting "You'll never get me to Lewes". A further two policemen were summonsed and all five officers managed to carry him to the cells. Upon being brought up on remand, a further charge of stealing two one pound notes from a man in Bohemia Road was added. Leading the evidence, Detective Sergeant Pike stated that Mrs Doris Styles had taken him to a lane between Sedlescombe Road North and The Ridge and indicated where two bundles of wallflower plants were hidden. On searching nearby shrubbery, he discovered a brooch and clip. Mrs Ogilvy, the property owner stated that property to the value of £250 had been stolen. The gardener employed at Ashbrook Lodge testified that he had seen Godden near the lodge. Mrs. Doris Styles, then gave evidence. Her testimony stated that she had met Godden, who she knew as Dodger at a cafe during July. By August, Dodger had moved in with Doris and her mother. On the 14th of August, she and Dodger had gone for a walk in the evening. Stopping at Ashbrook Lodge, Godden attempted one of the windows of the conservatory, but caused the dog to start barking. He then placed a pair of socks on his hands, and scaling the stack pipe, gained entry to the house. Mrs. Styles then heard some banging around and someone ringing the front doorbell. Godden re-appeared at the kitchen window and exited the house via the conservatory. He said he had £4-500 pounds worth of jewellery in his pockets and she had better come into the house with him. She entered as far as the conservatory, but then said they should leave. Picking up some wallflower plants on the way back, he opened the tin about half way up the aforementioned lane, tipped out a brooch and left the plants nearby. Upon returning to Mrs. Styles' home, he showed the jewellery to her mother telling her that she should say nothing, then buried the tin at Ebdens Hill. Stiles claimed to be innocent as to his purpose for visiting the lodge, he having told her that he was going to see another woman, and, following the robbery that Stiles was as much tied up in it as he. Upon Mrs. Hyland's (Stiles' mother) giving evidence, she stated that other than the couple going out in the evening and returning a couple of hours later, she had nothing to say. At this, the Clerk to the Court informed her, that should she exercise that right, she would be placed in the cells until she changed her mind. Mrs. Hyland then gave evidence which directly contradicted her statement to the police; she had not seen any jewellery that evening. Upon being challenged with the statement she gave to the police, she claimed that this statement had been made under duress. The prosecution then asked her if she was afraid of Godden to which she answered 'Not on your life - he has not done me or my family any harm'. The Magistrates found this a 'prima facie' case and upon finding Godden intended to reserve his plea, committed him for trial.
The property was converted into three flats in 1952. In 1955, there was a planning application put in to erect a petrol filling station on the adjoining land (number 270), but this was refused; the land at this time being contiguous with the land surrounding Ashbrook Lodge. An additional application was submitted in 1958 to erect four dwellings at the rear of the building; this was again refused. Finally in 2019 a plan was submitted to demolish the double and single garage to the north side of the building and erect a pair of semi-detached properties on the land; this plan being approved.
References & Notes
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 17 August 1946 Pg. 0001
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 31 August 1946 Pg. 0002
- Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref: HS/FA/52/00316
- Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref: HS/FA/55/00763
- Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref: HS/FA/58/00003
- Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref: HS/FA/19/00277