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Dora Adams, nee Edwards

of Hambrook and Winterbourne

A booklet entitled "A Winterbourne Tale", a village tragedy told through letters to Dora Adams, and written by BR Adams, can be purchased from the Frenchay Village Museum.

Mary Rider Elliott (born c1831)

and her sister (seated)

Maria Catherine Elliott (born 1844)

ran a boarding school for girls at Cotham Park, Bristol, before retiring to Hambrook in 1893.

They rented ‘Grove View’ from Dr Eadon.

The house, later named 'Evancoyd', is seen far right in this picture of Hambrook Green.

Living with them was a young girl, whom they treated as their niece. She was born in London on 26th January 1882 and baptised Ada Constance Edwards Grinham.

The sisters later had her name changed to Theodora Constance Edwards.



Dora is seventeen in this photograph

Dora attended Levi Luff’s school at Whiteshill and they all worshipped at the Whiteshill Congregational Chapel.




The minister at that time was the Rev Henry Alban Brown (1862 – 1906).

Alban very soon became a regular caller at the Elliott’s house and on 17th July 1894, he and Maria were married at Whiteshill Chapel. They continued to live at ‘Grove House’, together with Mary and Dora, who was by now 12 years old and attending a boarding school.

In 1895, Dr Eadon had need of his house, so the family moved to ‘Brondeg’, a house near the top of the hill at Winterbourne.

Dora, who did not enjoy boarding school, returned to the new house at Winterbourne and continued her education at home, until, on her 16th birthday in 1898, she was apprenticed to Alexandra Drapery, a milliners on Whiteladies Rd, Clifton.

Shortly before she became a milliner, Dora had met Ernest Adams, son of Elizabeth & Robert Adams, of Quarry Barton.

Ernest was a gifted wood carver and was training as a monumental mason.



Ernest Adams at age 21.

Dora and Ernest were married at Whiteshill Chapel by the Rev HA Brown on 29th May 1903 and moved to ‘Hillside’, Hambrook, which they re-named ‘Homeleigh’.

Their son, Robert Leslie Adams, was born 24th December 1904.


In 1906, an event occurred that was to shock and disturb everyone in Hambrook and Winterbourne. It had been noticed for some time that Alban Brown had been behaving in a manner unlike his usual self. Periods of lack of concentration and, in his own words, "My nerves are queer at times and I cannot think a great deal."

On the morning of Monday 30th July 1906, the housekeeper at ‘Brondeg’, Nellie Pullen, having arrived at 7am and prepared the breakfast, by 10am was curious to know why nobody had yet appeared downstairs. She went to Mary’s room and found her lying in a pool of blood. Nellie ran screaming from the house. The police were called and the full horror was revealed. The bodies of Maria and Alban were also found. All three had died from having their throats cut with a razor.

That same day, Levi Luff wrote in the school Log Book... "We have just been informed that a dreadful tragedy has taken place at Winterbourne, the Rev HA Brown, Chairman of our school Committee, having murdered his wife & sister-in-law & then committed suicide. This news has been such a shock to Mrs Luff that she has gone home and the other teachers seem unfit for their regular duties. I am therefore continuing the lessons in the best way possible till 12 noon & then am sending the children home for the rest of the day."

The inquest brought a verdict of wilful murder of the two sisters by Alban, and of suicide whilst of unsound mind concerning himself.

Maria and Alban in their garden at ‘Brondeg’, Winterbourne.

1913 - Dora & Ernest Adams with their children Catherine May and Robert Leslie.

Dora, who was expecting her second child, Catherine May (born 2nd December 1906) was devastated.

In one night she had lost everyone she had loved as a child growing up in Hambrook.

The Congregational Church had lost its beloved minister, while Winterbourne & Hambrook had lost three respected members of their community in a horrific and brutal manner.

The event was talked about in the village for many years to come.


New photographs of Dora and her grown-up daughter Catherine, living in Hambrook, have now been received from Dora's granddaughter, Barbara R Adams.

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