The Woman Who was Saved by a Petticoat

Sarah Ann Henley was just a regular, 22-year-old, working class girl from Bristol, England in 1885. She was working as a barmaid at the Rising Sun pub near her home, and was engaged to marry a young man who worked on the Great Western Railway. Her ordinary life would be changed forever when she acquired a dubious claim to fame after a spat with her fiancé.

Sarah’s engagement had not been the most pleasant of relationships. The couple quarreled often, and Sarah had a habit of yelling at her fiancé in public. When her fiancé decided he’d had enough of her, he called of their engagement.

onthisday.com

Despite their tumultuous relationship, Sarah was distraught over the breakup. She decided she could no longer live without her fiancé and decided to throw herself off the nearby Clifton Suspension Bridge. On May 8, 1885, just past midnight, she did just that when she climbed over the bridge’s fencing and jumped off.

There were a few witnesses to the event, but Sarah jumped so quickly that none of the had a chance to stop her. They all watched in mingled horror and awe at what happened next.

Sarah, like most other women of her time, was wearing a crinoline underneath her dress. Crinolines were stiff petticoats that made dresses stand away from the wearer’s body. This garment saved Sarah that night. When she jumped, Sarah’s crinoline filled with air and acted like a parachute, causing her to fall slowly instead of plummeting into the water below. The wind also carried her away from the river so that she landed in the mud at the water’s edge. Had she landed in the water, she likely would have drowned due to her heavy clothing.

The men who had witnessed the jump rushed to Sarah’s aid. She had sunk into the mud and was in shock, but she was alive. It was determined that she needed to get to a hospital. Sarah’s luck almost ran out at this point when the only cabman that could be found refused to carry Sarah in his cab because she was covered in mud. Even when offered extra money to transport her, he stated he didn’t care if she died and drove quickly away.

The witnesses, including a policeman, carried Sarah to the hospital themselves on a stretcher. She had some minor internal injuries but was otherwise okay.

After her recovery, Sarah left hospital. She did eventually marry, but not the man who had driven her to attempt suicide. She went on to live a long life, dying in 1948 at the ripe old age of 85.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Before 1935 Toilet Paper Had Splinters

    Yes, your nightmare, toilet paper with splinters, was actually a sold commodity before the 1930s. Imagine going to the toilet, only to have to face a dangerous roll of toilet paper that was planning to stab you the moment you let your guard down. Those splinters would have been extremely painful, that is for sure....

    Read More
  • Melanism Nature’s Incredible Opposite Of Albinism

    Most people have heard of Albinism which is the congenital disorder that is known by the complete or partial absence of any skin pigments. The pigments are often lacking in the skin, hair, and eyes. Normally this results in white hair and pink eyes when it comes to mammals. When it comes to animals it...

    Read More
  • Wolverine Horror Frog Breaks It Own Bones For A Claw

    The hairy frog or the horror frog as eloquently known is not only a strange looking creature in the animal kingdom. It also possesses a trait which as far as everyone knows is completely unique. When under aggression or needing to defend itself from a predator, the hairy frog will break its own toe to...

    Read More
  • So Many People Were Buried Alive A Safety Coffin Was Patented

    During the 17th and 18th century one of the great fears that played in the back of everyone’s mind was the possibility of being buried alive. With sicknesses and diseases often ravaging whole communities, sometimes mistakes were made. It could only take someone falling into a deep fever, with their breathing extremely lowered for them...

    Read More
  • The Mouse That Believes It's A Wolf

    If you heard this creature deafening cry during the night, you may be mistaken to think a wolf was right behind you. Definitely, you would not want to hear it creep up behind you howling in a forest, though if it did you may be forgiven for breaking down into nervous laughter. Because this is...

    Read More