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A little tale of mediaeval sleeping….

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Isn’t it strange the little stories one comes upon while researching? I was trawling through Stow’s Survey of London when I found this, concerning an incident in the Tower:-

“William Foxley slept in the tower 14 days & more without waking.

“In the yeare 1546. the 27 of April, being Tuesday in Easter weeke, William Foxley, Potmaker for the Mint in the tower of London, fell asleepe, and so continued sleeping, and could not be wakened, with pricking, cramping, or otherwise burning* whatsoeuer, till the first day of the tearme, which was full xiiii. dayes, and xv. nights, or more, for that Easter tearme beginneth not afore xvii. dayes after Easter. The cause of his thus sleeping could not be knowne, though the same were diligently searched after by the kings Phisitians, and other learned men: yea the king himselfe examining the said William Foxley, who was in all poynts found at his wakening to be as if hee had slept but one night. And he lived more then fortie yeares after in the sayde Tower, to wit, vntil the yeare of Christ, 1587, and then deceased on Wednesday in Easterweeke.”

How very odd! By the way, the king in question, Henry VIII, died less than a year after seeing William Foxley. As someone has said, imagine waking up from a deep sleep and finding Henry leaning over you! I think a heart attack would have seen poor Foxley off there and then.

* This was tried on one William Tyndale a few years earlier at the behest of the same King. It woke him up, but not for long.

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