Friday, 18 September 2009


The day that Sarah Ann Matthe was born in the 1700s she would have been unaware of the destiny that awaited her.
She would marry Butler William Mountain and help him to run 'The Saracen's Head' - the coaching station immortalised by Charles Dickens in 'Nicholas Nickleby'.
Sarah Mountain was described as a real beauty and totally devoted to her husband. She was never without a cameo broach pinned close to her heart. Not just any cameo but that of her husband.
But Sarah Mountain had another side to her - a determination to succeed in business. While her husband was happy to attend to the business of the tavern and hotel side of things Sarah built up a feed and grain business while, at the same time, going into the stagecoach business. Against male opposition she won the right to run the Louth Mail using her own coaches. She, also, built coaches to order and struck deals with the new owners that gave her a slice of their profits.
Not only did she have beauty but she had brains as well.
When her husband died in 1833 she retired from the business and brought a house just up the road from 'The Swan With Two Necks' in Whetstone nr Barnet, Hertfordshire. A house that someone tried to burgle only when he tried to climb a gate to get away she shot him in the leg and sat on him until the law arrived.
The Saracen's Head was taken over by Sarah's son Peter until 1868 when it was demolished to make way for the Holborn Viaduct.
Sarah Mountain died in 1835.
But in her lifetime she made her mark both as a formidable business woman and a loving wife and mother.

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