Tuesday, 18 March 2008
The Mistletoe Bough and ghostly thoughts . . .
This is for Pixiedust, who, a Hampshire Hog like me, asked for a Hampshire ghost story.
Several houses are connected with the legend of the Mistletoe Bough. Marwell Hall near Owlesbury (pronounced Ozzlebury when I lived in Hampshire) is one of them. This tragic legend tells of a bride who plays hide-and-seek on her wedding day, but is never seen alive again. She is the first to hide, and running up to the attics of the house, finds an old chest and climbs in. Once the lid is shut, she finds to her terror that she is unable to open it again, and search as they might, the groom and wedding guests cannot find her. Centuries later, the chest is finally opened and her skeleton, in her wedding finery, is discovered. Not quite a "ghost" story, but a bit spooky. Here's a link to some more information about this legend: http://www.users.dialstart.net/~2metres/poetry/mistletoebough/mistletoebough.htm
Chilbolton Rectory is said to be haunted by the ghost of a nun. Even though the window where she was usually seen was bricked up, her apparition continued to appear at the rectory. A guest there said that he had seen a beautiful nurse looking out of a different window; and another woke in the night to see a nurse standing beside his bed. The rector was unable to account for the "nurse" as no other people were resident in the house at that time. Apparently in 1393 a nun called Katherine Faukener had fled the nearby Benedictine Abbey of St Cross at Wherwell. 7 years later she returned, but it is said that she was walled up alive in an area of the nunnery which later was the site of the Rectory.
I know that in a pub the Haunch of Venison in Salisbury, where I used to go with friends, when restoration work was being done the workmen found a skeletal hand, holding playing cards. They had a mock-up made of this - a grisly reminder not to cheat at cards! Some of the fascinating history of the ancient building is to be found here: http://trustedplaces.com/review/uk/salisbury/bar-pub/1x8iv7/the-haunch-of-venison/1j11a8
Whilst I have never seen a ghost, I do feel atmospheres. I used to walk the dogs in the grounds of what had once been a gigantic hospital at Netley, built to house the sick and wounded from the Crimea War - hospital ships were able to moor alongside as it was at the edge of Southampton Water. The hospital had been a quarter of a mile long. It was demolished eventually, but the chapel building had been left. Well, chapel or no, I couldn't go anywhere near it as I felt the most appalling depressive atmosphere. I could walk through the war cemetaries there, and only felt peace, but that chapel fair set the hairs up on the back on my neck. A couple of years ago I happened to mention this to a friend, who had lived near Southampton for a while and knew of the place. A friend of hers took her children there (it had become a Country Park by then) and they were just walking near the chapel when her little girl started waving. She asked her why she was doing that as there was no-one to be seen. "I'm waving to the men mummy," she told her, "Look, over there, they're waving back and they're coming to see us." Exit - extremely fast - one freaked-out mother and her little ones, never to return . . .
Here's a link, which shows both hospital and chapel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netley_Hospital