The case of Anthea Ring

Anthea Ring as a baby
‘Round and rosy’: baby Anthea

On a late summer’s afternoon, Thursday, 26th August 1937, Anthea Ring was discovered, abandoned, on the very highest point of Steep Down, Sompting, Sussex. Strangely, she had been placed deep within a blackberry bush with the bottom of her dress torn away to secure her hands. Labels looked to have been removed from the garment.

Aged between 7-13 months old and described as ‘round and rosy’, she had been well nourished and was social and comfortable around people, reaching out her arms in a welcoming way, wanting to be held. She had clearly been very carefully looked after: newly washed hair smelling of strawberry shampoo, neatly trimmed nails and possibly a teething remedy of the time applied to emergent teeth. As the gentleman farmer’s wife at the house she was taken to said: ‘what is a child like THIS doing here?’

It is highly probable Anthea’s own biological parents were not aware or responsible for her highly unusual abandonment especially given how well cared for she was and the fact that DNA testing shows us that both Anthea’s parents were deeply rooted in Connemara, Ireland. So how did an Irish child end up in such an obscure, remote spot in Sussex where there were few Irish inhabitants? That she was found at all, by holidaymakers from London, was nothing short of a miracle. So what really happened on that August afternoon 80 years ago? The answer that baffled Scotland Yard in the 1930s is now at our fingertips due to DNA.

Anthea Ring as a child
Anthea as a child

Anthea Ring said: “I was approached a year ago by Julia Bell with an amazing offer. It was to take up my search for my birth family!
I had been searching myself for over 25 years – with very much help from all forms of the media – magazines, television appearances, small films, sibling DNA from responses and the most recent DNA. As my story is extremely complex, abandoned in unusual circumstances many years ago with local Police and Scotland Yard being involved, I didn’t really feel that she would be able to get much further than I had with more distant cousins in Ireland and America being located.

“When Julia took over things radically progressed! She started to investigate the area I was found in – uncovering new details long forgotten. Her skills at analytically examining the smallest likely clue – even unlikely but with remote possibilities are her forte. However, some of her success is due to her lovely character which is warm, positive and extremely honest. I trust her integrity 100% and therefore have been very willing to deliver all my personal details into her hands. We have now, due to DNA, identified a set of Galway grandparents for me and are steps away from a significant breakthrough.”