The following is the report of the inquest into Elizabeth BARTON's death. It appeared in the Brighton Gazette on 1st March 1866.
HORRIBLE DEATH OF A WOMAN
On Monday the Borough Coroner, held an inquest, at the London Road Tavern, on the body of Elizabeth Barton, aged 61, a widow who had resided for four years at 12, Oxford Street. Shortly after half-past seven that morning, she went into the yard which was over a cesspool, and immediately afterwards a female, who also lived in the same house, heard her call for assistance. On going out, she found the earth had given way, and that the deceased was standing in the hole, holding on by a pipe which ran from the water closet. The assistance of a young man named Blackman was obtained, who knelt down on the bricks, with the view of grasping deceased by the wrist to hold her up, while his brother went for a rope. Before he could do so, however, he felt the earth giving way with him, and had to catch hold of the sill of the closet door to save himself. While hanging there by his hands he looked down, and saw that the earth had fallen in all over the deceased. A ladder was then brought and Blackman ventured on it, but the stave gave way, and he had a second time to draw himself out. In the course of a few minutes another ladder was brought, and a man named Moore went down, and having fastened a rope around deceased, she was drawn up, and found to be quite dead. The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death".
There was additional information in the report in the Brighton Guardian:
"It is supposed the rising of the springs in the London road valley loosened the steining of the cesspool, which is over a well,and so caused the top to fall in with the weight of the deceased."