Monday, 2 July 2012

Ghost Week: Temple Newsam House Ghosts

Welcome to Ghost Week, where I'll be looking at poltergeists, grey ladies, headless horsemen and other tales of things that go bump in the night.

I'm kicking things off with a local story, namely of the ghosts that are said to inhabit Temple Newsam house in Leeds, England. Temple Newsam house is a beautiful Tudor mansion dating back to 1520, known as 'The Hampton Court of the North'. I used to frequently go there as a little boy with my grandma to visit the farm on its grounds, but I didn't hear about the ghost legends until I was a bit older and more curious about such things. 

There are said to be a handful of spirits haunting the house, but the most well know has to be the Blue Lady. She is said to be the ghost of Miss Mary Ingham (1638-1652) and legend has it that she was travelling back to Temple Newsam after visiting relatives when her cart was set upon by three robbers who dragged her out and stole her possessions. Apparently this scarred her psychologically and from then on she chose to hide her valuables in random places throughout the house. The Blue Lady has supposedly been seen trying to find her belongings again that she hid all those years ago. 

Other ghosts include a monk in brown robes, a knight (in 1155 the area was given to the Knights Templar) , a small boy who climbs out of a cupboard and runs from the Darnley room, and a weird misty apparition. Apparently a young serving girl who was murdered by a footman also haunts the back stairs of the house. 

Local ghost legends are always fascinating, but I do want to make it clear that I don't believe in ghosts myself. There are frequent 'ghost hunts' in the house, especially at Halloween, which is a bit of fun but shouldn't be taken seriously. For me it's the stories that are the most interesting parts, not wondering whether the ghosts or goblins or giants are real or not. It's fine if you personally believe in these things, but for me they are just great stories and wonderful examples of anthropology.