Post by Joanna on Dec 26, 2016 22:15:01 GMT -5
The Day the Vicar Saw the Green Lady
An infamous Lincolnshire ghost may have reappeared in 1935, according to witnesses. An estate with links to Thorpe Hall (above) may be haunted by the mysterious Green Lady previously seen at Scampton Hall.
The new information came via a Fulstow clergyman, whose phantom encounter did not appear in print until December 1955. To piece together the evidence, we must return to a dreary December day in 1935. It is half past four in the afternoon and in pouring rain, a clergyman is driving his car along a narrow lane toward the village of Scampton. As he turns into the village, he is alarmed to see in the glare of his headlights “a woman in a brilliant green silken dress” tripping along in front of him. He brakes hard and takes a quick downward look as he puts the car in park. When he looks again at the road, the figure has vanished. Puzzled, he alights and listens for footsteps, but all he hears is the steady beat of the rain. He returns to his car pondering what had happened. Why was her dress so brilliant? Then it strikes him, a silken dress in this rain would have been bedraggled. It would have clung to the woman’s slim form like skin, but this hadn’t been the case. For all the rain, it billowed like an ordinary dress. But it was so brilliant ... was it an ordinary dress ...? Still puzzled, he continued to his friends’ home at Scampton and told them the entire story. Upon his return home, he told his wife.
Then for two years, the clergyman, the Rev. HJF Arnold, a former vicar of Fulstow, and later vicar of St. Mary’s, Wainfleet, was silent about his ghostly encounter.
One day, he received a telephone call from friends at Scampton. Could he visit them? they asked, they had something they wished to show him. The object of their call was a book, Scampton, written in 1808 by the Rev. Cayley Illingworth, Archdeacon of Stow and Rector of Scampton. Therein, for the first time in his life, Arnold read The Legend of The Green Lady – the phantom which is said to haunt Thorpe Hall in Louth (20 miles from Scampton as the crow flies). The legend had its origin at Cadiz in 1596, when Sir John Bolle of Thorpe Hall was an officer under Sir Walter Raleigh, who commanded an English force besieging the Spanish port. Bolle captured the Donna Leonora Oviedo, a beautiful Spanish noblewoman, who fell madly in love with him. However, he could not return her love for he had left a young wife at home at Thorpe Hall.
Unable to pursue her heart’s desire, Donna Leonora retired to a nunnery, but before going, she sent presents – tapestries pearls and other jewelry – to the man she loved. One can assume she died shortly thereafter – probably of a broken heart – for before many years passed, her spirit is said to have begun haunting the grounds of Thorpe Hall.
But what is the connection between Scampton and Thorpe Hall? The Bolle family owned Scampton Hall until the death of another Sir John in 1714. The spot where Arnold saw the apparition, for such it must have been, is just 30 yards from the gates which once led to the Hall, where Geoffrey, the brother of the Spanish lady’s captor, lived. If so, one can understand Arnold’s experience. He believes in ghosts, because through the years, there is so much evidence to substantiate they exist. “It was as real and clear an experience as one could have,” he recalled. “It was not just an impression. It was as real as anything can be.” During the war, he added, there was a bus station near the spot where he saw “it,” much used by servicemen from the nearby Scampton airfield. Many servicemen claimed to have seen the ghost.
Geoffrey Harmsworth, a former owner of Thorpe Hall, lived there for many years. “I cannot honestly say I have seen it,” he said, “but during the war, the hall was requisitioned as an officer’s mess. My housekeeper told me that several officers claimed to have seen it.” The Green Lady, he explained, has been featured on both stage and screen. Almost a century ago, at Covent Garden, there appeared the play The Spanish Lady’s Love, which was based on the legend.
In more recent times, the film Fire over England, in which Flora Robson gave one of her superb portrayals of Good Queen Bess, centered on the adventures of John Bolle, and, of course, the Green Lady came into it.
In spite of all this, we are still left with the question, “Does the Green Lady still appear at her old haunts?”
Sources: Patricia Astill, LincolnshireLive, December 24, 2016, and The Grimsby Telegraph, October 18, 2013.