FLOWERS have been laid on Botley Road in tribute to the local icon known as 'Botley Bag Lady', who is reported to have died, aged 73

Shocked residents have spoken of their sadness about the death of Eleanor Boulton on social media, where tributes have poured in.

The full details of her funeral are not yet known, but an inquest is due to be held on November 1. 

However, it is understood her funeral is being delayed while authorities search for a next-of-kin.

And several readers have called the Oxford Mail to enquire about funeral details with a view to attending when it is held.   


A Facebook page has been set up in her memory.

Labelled a 'true legend of Oxford', locals have been sharing their stories of the woman. 

Staff at Country Grains sandwich shop on Botley Road said Ms Boulton used to walk past and read the headlines of the papers in the shop window.

They said she spoke very well and thought she may have even been bilingual.


Having watched her walk up and down Botley Road for some 30 years, owners Joe and Linda Devlin said: "She was a familiar face and it was never a surprise to see her.

"No one knew much about her, but everyone knew of her. It's sad to see how she ended up."

Over the road at Classique Unisex Hair Salon, Lisa Rowles said she had heard stories from clients over the years that Ms Boulton and her husband used to run an Oxfordshire school until her husband died.

She said that people living near Botley Road often found her in their sheds, but because she was such a well-known person they did not make her leave.

Ms Rowles added: "She was a chatty women who would not take from others.

"She was wonderful, living like that without help."

On Facebook, one woman recalled how Ms Boulton once helped her rescue a little bird, and described her as 'sweet and softly spoken'. 

Stacey Wiggins wrote: "I used to speak with her when I worked as a PCSO in Oxford, her outlook on life was there were people in the world with nothing so she needed nothing, she was a trooper especially when it snowed... nothing bothered her... RIP Eleanor."

Another said: "I've spoken to her a few times over the years and she was lovely. Obviously a bit potty but she was quite a switched on cookie.
Her absence had been noticed by a member of staff from Argos who I spoke to a while back."

Tributes also poured in on Twitter, where one person described her as 'one of Oxford's great eccentrics'.

Among the hundreds of comments there were snippets of insight into her life, with one local suspecting she had some medical knowledge: "Eleanor Boulton was a wonderful caring person. We live on the Botley Road and were constantly meeting her.

"When my wife told her I was seriously ill, each time they met she would ask after my health, when I met her she would have knowledge of my renal condition and would ask me if so and so had been administered giving me the inclination that she had worked in (the) medical field.
She would neve accept food or drink, preferring to scavenge from bins.
RIP Eleanor Boulton and you will take your secrets and stories to the grave."

What do you remember of Botley Bag Lady?

Send us your stories

Add your contribution now By uploading a contribution, for use online and in print, you accept our contributor terms. You will either own or have permission to use anything you provide.

Kathy Hampden notes how long she had been an institution in Oxford, writing: "I realise now how young she must have been when I first saw her on Botley Road decades ago. Very sad. RIP." 

Send us your stories

I was donating lost property to one of the red recycling bins behind the station and happen to spot this lady walk by. I left a pair of shoes by the side of the bin and chased her down; despite her age she had a pace on her and I caught up on Frideswide Square, mentioning that there were some shoes by the side of the bin. She politely refused the offer and said she would never accept charity. She had clear lines of how to live her frugal life.

A Pike

Hello, I met Eleanor in November 2010 when I moved to a Village near Oxford City Centre. I was waiting at the George Street Bus Station. I tried to offer her £5 as a gesture but she was adamant that she wouldn't take it, even if I put it in the railings nearby! I saw Eleanor after that several times and approached her to say hello. I had a dog named Bryn with me who she liked and it was this connection that began our friendship together. I would ask Eleanor if I could buy her a cup of tea? 'Maybe' was always her reply. I began to see Eleanor on my daily trips into Oxford and we spoke honestly about life. This is what she said... Eleanor would sit in a Bus Shelter on the Botley Road and read the daily newspapers to get all the worlds news she needed. Eleanor ate from the Litter Bins on her daily route from where she lived, this is somewhere is was proud and humble to have later found through casually asking her and leaving an Army Sleeping Bag nearby to her tarpoline home, layered with plastic, newspaper, plastic and more newspaper to keep her dry. Eleanor told me she was the only child of a Lay Preacher, she married a wonderful man, she was an Academic, with a Maths Degree. Life became too much so she decided to leave main stream society behind. Eleanor loved and lost, she then told me... "I am free, my mind is clear and I don't have any worries." This was a poignant time in our friendship as I discussed the stress of life in Oxford, financial pressures etc. Eleanor would never accept money, she said she had all she needed around her. A tiny woman, I agree she didn't wash, how did she manage with the feminine hygiene etc so I asked my daughter Charlotte, then in the Armed Forces. When I knew Eleanor was out in town, my daughter and I went to her home, we left the sleeping bag nearby. My daughter told me that toilet paper wasn't any use, where would she put it, utensils etc as well so it was the most polite way to leave her. I then continued to see Eleanor, I asked if I could draw her, I took her photograph and made a small card for the Christmas 2011. I am an Illustrator and I feel I have to write and draw her as she was. Eleanor was beautiful, eloquent and spoke with a beautiful society accent an Oxford Don would be proud of. I can't stress enough how humble I am at knowing her and how sad I am that she has died. Eleanor told me she had a heart murmur, she wouldn't get it checked but looked after herself as much as she was able. I want her funeral to be a celebration and will gladly speak at the ceremony to tell Oxford how wonderful she was. Mrs Rebbeca Morse

contributed by community

Ive spoken to elena for some years my mum as letters that elena had written to her sorry to hear of her passing away

contributed by community

Eleanor always remembered our names and our dogs as well. If she saw us on the other side of the Botley road, she would cross over disregarding the traffic. She read the Telegraph and did Sudoka puzzles. I wished I had been able to take a photo of her, sitting at the bus stop amidst her bags, legs crossed elegantly, reading a quality newspaper. I do hope she didn’t suffer at the end.

Eve Hoare

Have know this dear Lady for many years.She Used to pass by our Bungalow on Eynsham Rd years ago and we often chatted.As others have said she would never accept any drink or food directly. As time went on she only used to be seen on the main Botley road.I used to stop and have a little chat.She had a fantastic memory.So well spoken to. We will for sure all miss her.RIP Dear Friend.John .

John Walker

The Bag Lady was such a presence for all of those in Botley. Often seen reading her newspaper at bus shelters and benches. Beautifully spoken and so gentle. I once offered her half of my sandwich as I stood and waited for a bus, to which she declined. Instead she produced a banana skin from her pocket and ate it enthusiastically, telling me all the health benefits you can get from the peel and then wished me a good day. One of a kind.

Charlotte White

I spoke to this lady several times and even offered to take her for a cup of tea but she would not accept it. She seemed very intelligent. I feel she had a sad life but perhaps she would have said differently. May she RIP.

Patricia Agutter

I've know her many years and have helped over the years and have even had coffee food she welcomes me to her tin shed sit and hear the story's of her life being around meant alot to my heart the simple way of life on peace in life clearly didn't want anything she would clear up rubbish recycle every thing that could be rescue animals even point to making sure that others are well her health was not good she didn't want medical help refused it as wanted to sort it her self she always new plants ,flowers to eat or making Medicines that help her

Simon Bray