Our very own 'Sleeping Beauty'

Our very own 'Sleeping Beauty'

Our very own 'Sleeping Beauty'

First published in Nostalgia

LAST week we took a look at the dwelling in Turville called Wisteria Cottage. The village has many cottages with similarly evocative names.

One such is Sleepy Cottage, see image, located at the corner of School Lane and Holloway Lane. This holds the secret of one of Turville’s great mysteries.

The tale is of Turville’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’. This concerns a village girl named Ellen Sadler, who was one of 12 children living in the cottage with their parents.

In March 1871, aged 11, and two days after being discharged from hospital, Ellen fell into a deep sleep, and could not be woken. The doctor was called, but could do nothing. He confirmed that she was still breathing, although this was only just discernible. And so began Ellen's long sleep. She did not finally wake until New Year’s Eve, 1880. During the intervening nine years Ellen became Turville’s first tourist attraction, people travelling from all over the country to see the girl who never woke. Her family benefited through ‘slight acknowledgements’, as donations were politely called!

Many eminent doctors visited her, and despite crude ‘tests’ being carried out, such as pin-stabbing, Ellen was never caught out. Although there must be some doubt about the authenticity of her condition, modern medical thinking suggests narcolepsy as a possible diagnosis. The story had a happy ending, because Ellen, after adjusting to life after wakening, went on to marry and bear children. (A full account of this remarkable story is given by Elizabeth Wiltshire in her book A Tour of Turville.) Turville also has another true mark of the typical English village – the village school, see left. This, the CofE Elementary School, was built by public subscription and opened in 1873, with facilities for 50 children. After enlargement in 1905, it was finally closed in 1982, although it was later used as a nursery school.

Reader Judy Cox remembers the school in the 1960s. There were just two classrooms, for the Little Class and the Big Class.

While school meals were traditionally considered to be poor, Judy remembers raving about hers because they were so good! This was no doubt because the meals were prepared by two local cooks.

As you progressed through the school, you were given small responsibilities: Judy was asked to answer the school telephone when it rang, as there was no school office or secretary.

This was no doubt good training for Judy’s current occupation as a member of the switchboard team at Wycombe Hospital!

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