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New book delves into Clavering's murderous past

By Herts & Essex Observer  |  Posted: October 01, 2012

New book explores a notorious Clavering crime

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A GRUESOME chapter in Clavering’s history is recreated in a new book published today (Monday, October 1).

The Moat Farm Mystery delves into one of the most fascinating murder mystery cases in Essex’s history.

Author M W Oldridge – the pen name of writer and true-crime researcher Mark Ripper who lives in London’s East End – uses recently declassified papers and archive private correspondence which has never before been published to turn the clock back to 1903.

Mr Ripper, who is a member of the Whitechapel Society and whose previous books include Whitechapel Murder & Crime, presents the first full-length account of Samuel Herbert Dougal’s life, extending the understanding of this intricate case including never before published illustrations as well as photographs from the search for the body of spinster Camille Holland before it was eventually unearthed at the home she shared with Dougal at Moat Farm in the Uttlesford village.

Mr Ripper said: “Intelligent, talented and the recipient of a military medal, Samuel Herbert Dougal seemed to embody all that Victorian England valued most.

“But he was also a career criminal whose appetite for sex and money propelled him to scandal after scandal, through courts and prison, and from woman to vulnerable woman.”

He became the focus of police and media attention when his latest love interest, wealthy Miss Holland, disappeared.

History records that in January 1899, the pair stayed briefly in Saffron Walden while work was carried out on Coldhams Farm, which they later renamed as Moat Farm.

Although they were not married and the house was in Miss Holland’s name, once in residence, they presented themselves to villagers as Mr and Mrs Dougal.

However Mr Ripper reveals thrice-married Samuel’s real wife, Sarah, had been the beneficiary of his schemes over the course of a decade.

Camille disappeared and after it became clear Dougal had been forging her signature, police renewed their search for the missing Miss Holland.

Camille’s body was found in a drainage ditch four years after she disappeared.  She had been shot through the head.

Convicted of her murder, Dougal was executed at Chelmsford prison at 8am on Tuesday, July 14, 1903.

The Moat Farm Murder was the second notorious murder case in Clavering.  Half a century before Dougal’s crime, Sarah Chesham, known as Sally Arsenic, was hanged for the murder of her husband.  Previously she had been cleared of killing her two sons.

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  • Herts & Essex Observer  |  January 19 2013, 3:11PM

    deliverd bread there in the 1960s later her belongings were found in the attick and sold

  • Herts & Essex Observer  |  January 15 2013, 3:23PM

    i worked for my uncle and delivered bread to moat farm the owner showed me where the body was found 1968