top of page

1808: Happy ending for Cuckfield's sleeping beauty story?

You may recall our story 'Miracle in Cuckfield High Street' last year when we gave some newspaper accounts of the well known Cuckfield’s ‘sleeping beauty’ story. Here are the two stories again to remind you - but there is a (hopefully) a happy ending in the third item:

A servant girl, living with a widow lady of that place, complained of illness, accompanied with extreme drowsiness; her mistress advised her to lie down, and she would soon be better. The girl went to bed, and fell into a profound sleep. On Saturday last she had been sleeping seven days, and though attended by several medical men, who had bled and blistered her, yet she shewed no signs of waking. She appeared much reduced; and breathed faintly, but the colour of health still remained in her cheeks. Many hundreds had at that time been to see her, and the fact is incontrovertible.

Royal Cornwall Gazette - Saturday 05 September 1807

Sleeping Beauty

Sarah Smith, whose sleeping propensity has rendered her an object of great curiosity in the neighbourhood of Cuckfield, last week left her service in that place, and returned to her friends at Twineham. At her departure she was presented with £5 which some of the inhabitants of the town had subscribed for that purpose. The cause of her lethargic visitations is said to be some extraordinary affection of the brain, for the cure of which, we understand she is shortly to be admitted into an hospital in London.

Westminster Journal and Old British Spy 26 September 1807

Son of Mars

Sarah Smith, the Young woman, who slept at Cuckfield till the ninth day, in August last, namely, from the 15th to the 23d of that month, has since that time, had frequent sleeps for several days and nights, without the possibility of being awakened. This extraordinary female has lately been married to a son of Mars.

Kentish Weekly Post / Canterbury Journal 22 April 1808

This is believed to have taken place in Marshalls in the High Street

The ‘Sons of Mars’ were Italian (ruthless) mercenaries used by the Greek kings of Syracuse until after the Punic Wars. So, from the use of these words, we take it that Sarah married a brave soldier.


And an advertisement for a lottery on the back of this nationally circulated story

Has occasioned no small wonder even among the Medical tribe, a much greater Phenomenon would it be were the votaries of Fortune’s Wheel to sleep, or even dose, beyond the lapse of the present momentous NEW LOTTERY Plan. If it ever behoved Adventurers to be broad awake it should be to a Plan that contains two Schemes instead of one, and more Capital Prizes, with a far less number of Blanks, than the Lottery annals could ever before instance.

Belle Assemblée - Or, Court and Fashionable Magazine; Containing Interesting and Original Literature, and Records of the Beaumonde · Volume 3

Illustration: From 'My Book Of Favourite Fairy Tales' Illustrated by Jennie Harbour. Wikimedia public domain image.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.



bottom of page