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1847: Tragic Warninglid pilgrim's death

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Brighton Gazette - Thursday 27 May 1847


A coroner's inquest was held at the Fox public house,(1) Three Bridges, on Tuesday morning, before F. H. Gell Esq., to enquire into the circumstances attending the death of a married female, named Monkton, who had gone to Warninglid see the "Prophet” Couchman.

The fox (now replaced by The Snooty Fox) c1915 where the inquiry was held

Sarah Airey deposed - I am the wife of Henry Airey, of Ocean Row, Stepney, Middlesex, butcher, and am sister-in-law to Ann Monkton, the deceased. She is the wife of Charles Monkton, of Oliver Row, Shoreditch, butcher. Deceased was fifty-three years of age. She has been in ill health during the last two years. The origin of her complaint was chronic inflammation of the bowels, I accompanied her on Wednesday last from Shoreditch to Warninglid, where she wished to place herself under the care of a person named Couchman, who she was led to believe could do her good by magic. She went of her own accord, and quite against the will of her husband. She was as bad as she couid be when she left London. She had kept her bed for eight weeks.

We travelled by the train, and stopped at a station which, as I am informed, is called Hayward’s Heath. She was then much the same. We lifted her into a fly, and conveyed her to Warninglid. We reached Warninglid between five and six o’clock in the evening. Mr Couchman was with us in the fly. She remained at his house until Sunday noon.

I was with her during the whole time. I prepared everything she had. It was chiefly beef tea and arrow root. Couchman gave her nothing. He prayed in her presence, and blessed everything she took. She found herself weaker and weaker, and wished to get home. She was brought in a fly to the Three Bridges Station. I was the only person with her. When we came to the station, she was seized with shortness of breath. She said, ”My dear, I think l am dying away.”

Immediately after this she died without a struggle. She made no complaint as we came along, but the journey seemed to fatigue her. Some person near the station, and I believe the landlord of the Fox, took her out of the fly, and conveyed her to the inn. There was nothing in Couchman's manner calculated to terrify, but on the contrary, to soothe. The only means he used was prayer. Mr Couchman did not demand any remuneration. He came from London with the deceased, and we paid him what we thought would cover his expenses.

Deceased was the mother of nine children. She had been attended by four physicians successively near London, Dr. Goldenburgh and three others. The last was Dr. Conquest. Mr Couchman, when in London, tried to dissuade her from going to Warninglid, but she pressed it upon him. She heard of him from a lady named Jackson, who had been with Mr Couchman, and returned cured.

Thomas Smith, surgeon, deposed - I was sent for on Sunday last to see the deceased, who was a stranger to me. I found her at the Fox, dead. I saw her about a quarter before five o’clock, nearly an hour after her death. She is much emaciated, and apparently died of lingering disease. Her right lung is diseased. During the last three months of her life the lungs, as well as the other organs, seem to have given way. I have no doubt of her having died from natural causes. I think her death was hastened by the close state of the atmosphere acting a debilitated constitution.

Verdict—“ Natural death.”

(1) The Fox was in Three Bridges High Street, (now Haslett Avenue) adjacent to the railway. Originally built in 1841 by the railway company to house railway 'navvies', it was sold in 1843.

The building was demolished in August 1989 and replaced by the Snooty Fox - built a few yards further back from the original site due to road widening - opening on 20th May 1993.


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