Strange case of a village trance

One Edmund Austen of Brede in about 1930, while looking through family papers, found particulars relating to a young woman named Margaret Margesson who in March, 1866, went into a trance in the village.

Writing to the Sussex County Magazine, Mr Austen said: ‘Margaret’s father, generally known as Old Charlie, obtained a precarious living by making nets and brimstone-tipped matches. The couple lived in a barn at Goatham Green.

‘The young woman became ill and eventually - to all appearances - died. An old woman was summoned to perform the last offices. While thus engaged she fancied she detected some warmth in the body and, feeling her pulse, found there was still a faint movement.

‘I do not know how long she remained in this condition but when consciousness returned she told a relative of mine some of the wonderful things she had seen in the world of spirits, mentioning the names of several deceased persons and giving a vivid description of their present condition and surroundings.

‘Several instances of trance are recorded in the Bible, as well as by other writers in more modern times; it would be of interest to learn whether similar cases have been observed in Sussex.’

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