DETAILS about the extraordinary life of one of Oxford’s most well-known characters have been revealed in her own words.

Eleanor Bolton, widely known as the ‘Botley Bag Lady’, said she spurned material possessions and medical support because she 'didn't want to take more than her fair share'.

The local celebrity, who wandered up and down Botley Road for years wearing rags and eating out of bins, also once said: “Taking more than you need can be a barrier to relating to other people.”

READ MORE: Your memories and tributes to a 'local celebrity'

The university graduate's own words on her personal philosophy was revealed for the first time yesterday at an inquest into her death at Oxford Coroner's Court.

The 73-year-old, described as a ‘secular hermit’, was discovered dead in the tin hut where she slept off the Botley Road this summer, having spurned help for much of her adult life.

Oxford Mail:

She was found to have no evidence of mental health problems and was fully in charge of her own decisions, choosing to opt out of modern society in favour of her ‘unusual lifestyle’.

Leading the hearing, assistant coroner Nicholas Graham said it was not possible to ascertain the cause of death because of the badly decomposed state of her remains, said to be ‘almost skeletal’.

READ MORE: News breaks that Botley Bag Lady is found dead

But, while recording an ‘open conclusion’, he said he believed ‘natural causes’ were likely to blame.

Summing up the case, he added: “It is clear she lived a somewhat unusual life with a very specific philosophy.

“She became a fixture of the Botley area and perhaps of Oxford generally and I am sure the people there will miss her.”

No friends or family were present in court for the hearing.

Oxford Mail:

During the hearing, Mr Graham read a detailed report from GP Kate Smith, of the Luther Street Medical Centre, where Ms Bolton had registered as a patient in 2008.

In assessments over the last decade, Ms Bolton was found to be in ‘reasonable physical health’ and declined all interventions, including the offer of winter-time accommodation, because she felt others were in greater need.

Enigmatically, she told health workers she had had a ‘great deal of help in her 20s’ and 'didn't want to take more than her fair share'.

The practice knew her as a 'delightful, intelligent and interesting' person who was content with life but also as someone who did not like to be interfered with – particularly objecting to having to deal with male members of staff.

Ms Bolton had discussed her wishes about death many times, preferring to be left alone ‘even if she was ill’ and wanted to die in the metal hut where she lived, rather than in hospital.

Regarding her funeral, she had stated she wanted 'whatever is easiest', but she did wish to be remembered because she worried for those who died without commemoration.

Ms Bolton wrote her own advanced directive, giving instructions on the result of her death, and shared it with her doctors.

She wrote that she had been a student who studied maths at postgraduate level but dropped out in favour of living a life without material possessions.

Writing in the document she said: “There has to be a balance between what you are taking and what you are doing.

“Taking more than you need can be a barrier to relating to other people.”

News of Ms Bolton’s death, first reported in the Oxford Mail, was met by an outpouring of grief and goodwill from Oxford residents earlier this year.

She was found by police on June 27 after locals said they had not seen her for several weeks.

DC Shelley Slater, one of the officers who attended the scene, said the force had struggled to reach Ms Bolton's hut because over the long, hot weeks it had become completely overgrown.

She added: “Council officers were able to cut an access route and found the hut and just inside were the remains.

“We could not be 100 per cent sure [it was her] but the circumstances pointed that way – it was in the place where she slept alone.

“While decomposed, the body matched her description, it was small in stature and had matted grey hair.

The detective added: “She was known to most people in Oxford, she was almost a celebrity.

“She had the capacity to live the way she chose to live.

“We could not see any evidence of criminality and no signs of a disturbance. The place was full of rubbish and newspapers but this is how it was normally kept.”

Ms Bolton was the daughter of a former housemaster at Bloxham School and has now been buried next to her parents back in the village where she grew up.

Bloxham resident Roger Stein, who helped to organise a memorial service in September, said he recognised the description given of Ms Bolton's personality in the inquest, saying 'that sounds like Eleanor.'

Mr Stein, who knew the family when they lived nearby, said: "She lived the life she choose – that was her prerogative.

"Although it is sad she is gone and the way she died, she'll be remembered as an free spirit, someone who always retained her sense of independence."