A FORMER teacher died after falling down the stairs of the cottage which had been her home for more than 40 years.

An inquest was held into the death of 89-year-old Gwendoline Rita Lee of Highbury Cottage, Noulton, near Richmond.

Police broke into the house after friends raised the alarm when they could not get in and saw her stove was on.

Mrs Lee was found at the bottom of the stairs, she had a serious head injury. She was holding some washing.

Her husband had died two years previously but the inquest was told Mrs Lee was extremely active and had many friends in the village and around the world. She had been a popular teacher at local schools.

Coroner Rob Turnbull said:”Despite her 89 years she had a strong circle of friends and acquaintances, her husband had died two years ago but she carried on and lived a fully independent life until her death.”

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.