One by one, the three doctors arrived to interview the rich widow in her mansion.
They found her sitting erect on a chair in her spacious drawing-room, with fresh lilies and orchids on every surface.
But there was no disguising her terrible grief at the loss of her husband, who had died a year before after a long illness.
Today, Rachel Beer would be diagnosed as suffering from a nervous breakdown. But in 1903, the three doctors came to a radically different conclusion: the woman had clearly lost her mind.
As a result, Rachel's next visitor was a barrister with the title Master in Lunacy, who with a stroke of his pen ensured that one of the most powerful women in Britain was ignominiously stripped of most of her rights — including the control of her £460,000 fortune, worth many millions in today's money.
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