A woman not seen by her neighbours for 30 years has been found dead at her home in Oxford - with the body of her daughter nearby.

Police broke into the property after complaints of a pungent smell and found the bodies of Pauline Jessett, aged in her 70s and her daughter Caroline, in her 50s, at their home in Cowley Road, Littlemore, last week.

The women were thought to have been dead for several months - perhaps even years.

Oxford Police were treating both deaths as 'unexplained', but not suspicious.

Engineers have spent the past week securing the house amid fears it could collapse.

Neighbours told journalists that both women were known to be reclusive.

One woman neighbour, who declined to be named, said: "I haven't seen Pauline for over 30 years.

"She became a recluse after her husband died when he was in his 40s, in the 1980s.

"Their daughter, Caroline, went to school, but she never went to work afterwards.

"You would occasionally see the daughter going out to do the shopping in the early morning and she would always walk with her head down.

"She would say 'hello' if you spoke to her but I don't think I have seen her for six months.

"She was a bit strange, but I think that was a bit about her upbringing."

Curtains at the property were always drawn, and the women always refused to answer the door to visitors, neighbours added.

They told how in the summer they had seen flies swarming around inside the house.

"It seems likely that the bodies were already decompoising at that stage," said one resident.

A post mortem examination has failed to determine the cause of death of the first woman.

Investigating officer Detective Inspector John Turner of Oxford CID said: "Officers were in the property carrying out investigations into the deaths of two women there.

"There continues to be nothing at this stage to suggest these deaths are suspicious.

"Investigations are now being carried out to determine the circumstances."

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said that the local authority had had no involvement with the women.