In April 1844 Mr William Homer returned from business in the City, met with his solicitor in Stratford (the reasons why we do not know) went home to Upton Place, then came out later to the Spotted Dog “to spend the evening as was his custom”.
“While smoking, his pipe dropped from his hand”. Mr Homer died before a doctor could be summoned.
The next day the local Coroner arrived at the Spotted Dog to hold the inquest. Such venues were often used at a time when civic buildings were few and far between. His verdict was “Death by Visitation of God” a term that was commonly used, on the basis of anecdotal evidence, when the cause of death was unknown, but foul play was not suspected. As the century progressed the medical profession became increasingly frustrated by such imprecise and unscientific verdicts and the term disappeared from use.
At the time millions of clay pipes were manufactured very cheaply and handed out to pub customers free of charge. Perhaps Mr Homer used one such. During the late 1960’s when the Dog was being extended to the rear many old clay pipes were found under the floorboards, some then to be framed and put on show.
Chelmsford Chronicle May 1844 / Newham Archive