Thomas Day, a wealthy Georgian socialite who had been unlucky in love, was influenced by Rousseau’s theories of education and decided he would mould his own “perfect wife”. He and his friend, John Bicknell, bought Sabrina from Shrewsbury Foundling Hospital aged 12. Day took her to France where he subjected her to rigorous education and tests of endurance. On their return, Day brought Sabrina to Stowe House, where she was well known in Lichfield’s influential and “enlightened” cultural circle. She cooked, cleaned and was subjected to tests such as having pistols fired at her, hot sealing wax dropped on her skin and being made to jump fully dressed into Stowe Pool then lie on the bank until she was dry. When Day was persuaded that it was improper to have her living alone with him, Sabrina was sent to boarding school aged 14. However, he ordered that she should not learn to dance or play music. Aged 17, she returned to Lichfield society. Day broke off their engagement when he found her wearing clothes he had not stipulated. When Sabrina discovered that she had been the subject of Day’s experiment all along she was outraged. She eventually married John Bicknell and moved to London. Her story is said to have inspired George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and the musical My Fair Lady. It was dramatised by the BBC. In Lichfield’s so-called “enlightened” society of the time, she was clearly a victim of coercive control.