Hereford Public Library
Hereford Journal of 12th July 1884
Sad death at the Bridge Inn
EXTRAORDINARY FATALITY AT MICHAELCHURCH ESCLEY.
An extraordinary case of somnambulism, which was unhappily attended by fatal results, occurred at the Bridge Inn, Michaelchurch Escley, on Saturday morning, the 6th inst., the victim being the mother of the landlord of that inn. The deceased had been known to walk in her sleep, and her friends therefore took the precaution of locking her bedroom door prior to leaving her for the night. Early on Saturday morning however, she appears to have opened the window of her bedroom whilst in a state of semi-unconsciousness, and to have fallen out on to the green below. The medical opinion was that she laboured under the delusion that she was walking out through the door, and this view was strengthened by the bearing and language of deceased when picked up.
Mr. T. Llanwarne, county coroner, held an inquest on the body, at the Bridge Inn, on Monday, and the details of this lamentable incident will best be gathered from the evidence, a report of which is appended.
Catherine Pugh, wife of the landlord of the Bridge Inn, deposed that the deceased was her mother-in-law and was 80 years of age. She lived with witness and her husband, and was in wonderfully good health considering her age, though she was tottering on her limbs She had hardly ever bad a day's illness with the exception of one occasion about ten months back when her mind seemed to wander for a week or so; otherwise her mental faculties had been perfectly good. On Friday evening she seemed the same as usual. Between seven and eight o'clock witness went up to her room and shut the window, a long sliding one reaching to within about two feet of the floor. Deceased was dressed then, and sitting down at the foot of the bed. She asked if it was time to go to bed, and witness answered that it was not, and that she would see when the dusk came. On leaving witness locked the door of the room from the outside, as she had done every night since last September in consequence of her mother-in-law having then walked out of her room under the influence of the attack to which she had made reference, and had a narrow escape of falling downstairs. On the night of Friday, the 4th inst., witness heard the deceased between two and three o'clock moving about in her room. This was not unusual, but whenever the walking continued witness went to deceased's room, and often had to put deceased back in bed. On the night in question, however, witness had been awake a long time and must have dozed off after she heard the walking. At about three o'clock William Alcott, who was then starting out from the inn to go to Crasswall, called her up, and on going down she found the deceased lying on the green sward or the garden, just under the window of her bedroom. She said " Oh! Lord, take me in" . Witness asked her how she came there, and she said " I was going out for a walk and tumbled down the same as usual.” When walking in the house or garden deceased often had fallen down in consequence of the weakness of her limbs. When witness found deceased lying in the garden she was fully dressed. They picked her up and with slight assistance she walked into the house and upstairs into her bedroom. She talked nearly all the way, and told witness she had left one of her boots outside, as in fact she had. Witness put her to lie on the bed, and she took two drops of some brandy that witness fetched for her. Deceased said she didn’t think that she had hurt herself at all, only she felt shaky. Witness, however, sent for Dr. Thain, and at about half past four deceased died in her arms without a struggle.
William Alcott gave evidence that on leaving the Bridge lnn early on Saturday morning he heard a voice crying, " Oh, dear! take me home" , and he found it proceeded from Mrs. Pugh, the deceased, who was lying on the grass flat under her bedroom window, the latter being open. He called the last witness, and they took deceased home as described by her.
Mr. L. L. Thain, surgeon, Longtown, said he was called to deceased between five and six o'clock on Saturday morning, and on going he found she had died some little time before his arrival. He examined the body carefully, but could find no fractures or dislocations, there being only a small bruise on the left arm. There were no signs of any struggle or pain, and witness was of opinion that deceased died from the general effects of the shock, and more particularly the shock to the heart. The distance from deceased's bedroom window onto the grass beneath would be about eight or nine feet. He had seen deceased wandering about the house, and should think she got through the window under a semi-delusion that she was going through the door.
The jury found accordingly.