The Curse Of The Bloodstone Ring & The Severed Hand Of A Murdered Bride That Trapped A Killer

The legend of the hand of murdered bride Mary Grey that tormented her killer still lives on in the small village of Willisham in the English countryside.

Curse of the bloodstone ring
The legend of the cursed bloodstone ring of Mary Grey still lives on in Willisham

Gale force winds lashed the tiny English village of Willisham, ripping slates from the roofs and tearing limbs from trees. A huge old oak shuddered before the onslaught and then, caught by one mighty gust, toppled, its roots tearing at the earth beneath. Villagers who rushed to the spot to see if anyone was hurt stopped in horror as they gazed between the gnarled roots. There lay some human remains.

Police constable Klug, the only bobby in the East Anglian community, was called and he ordered that the body be taken from its shallow grave. One of the dismembered hands had a ring on one finger. Acting on a hunch, the grim-faced constable carried the hand to Ellen Grey, sister of a girl who had vanished mysteriously 18 years before, in 1873. Ellen screamed and then hugged the ghastly relic to her breast. "It's Mary's," she sobbed. "The bloodstone ring was my wedding gift. She was born in March, and it was her birthstone." Klug understood. Though the case was before his time, it was so well known in the area it had been the subject of a popular ballad. On her 18th Birthday, Mary Grey had married Basil Osborne. She had written a letter to John Bodneys', her sweetheart since childhood, asking for his forgiveness. An hour before the groom was to take her away on the honeymoon, Mary told her sister she wanted to spend a little time alone in the upstairs room that they shared. When Osborne arrived with the carriage, she still hadn't come down. Frightened, they forced their way into the locked bedroom, but found no trace of the bride.

One window opened onto a balcony where a flight of steps led to an enclosed garden. But the garden, too, was empty. The abandoned bridegroom died a month later. The villagers blamed a broken heart.

Now, 18 years later, the village knew what had become of Mary - for the skeleton had a broken neck. Ellen refused to give up her murdered sister's hand. It had been brought to her for a purpose, she said. That purpose must be fulfilled. Dying, she left a bizarre provision in her will. Her housekeeper, Maggie Williams was to have her estate, but must display the hand in some public place "where it may someday confront the murderer."

Maggie opened what became the finest pub in Willisham and gave the hand a place of honour on one wall. Enclosed in glass against a black velvet background, the bony ringed fingers claimed the attention of everyone.

After the shock of the exhibit had worn away, the tale of Mary's murder was a frequent topic of conversation. On a dismal March night in 1895, a stranger sat listening to scraps of the talk.

"Must have been just such a night as this that the wind ripped out that old oak tree," said the publican.

The stranger, a brooding man with a ravaged face, looked up from his glass. "I don't understand. What oak tree?" he asked. "Have a look at the case on the wall and then we'll tell you the story," the barman told him. Moments later, the stranger was screaming. He sagged against the wall, blood dripping from his fingers. An older man at the bar recognised him as Mary's missing former sweetheart John Bodneys'.

When Constable Klug arrived, the bleeding man confessed to the murder of Mary Grey. In a frenzy of jealousy, he had found the bride alone in her room. Muffling her cries, he carried her from the house. Bodneys' insisted that he had not meant to kill her. But when they reached the big oak tree, she was struggling so hard he had broken her neck. He left her in a shallow grave under the oak and tried to put Willisham behind him forever. But there had never been a moment of peace since the crime, and inevitably he had been compelled to return. Committed to the local jail to await trial, he died "of no known disease" before his trial could be held. The authorities dismissed the old wives' tale that a murderer's hands sometimes drip blood when he faces the proof of his crime. But the people of the village knew what they had seen. They buried Mary Grey's hand with the rest of her skeleton - and then ceremoniously burned the shirt smeared by John Bodneys' bloody fingers the day he came face to face with his guilt.

Still today, in the little quiet village of Willisham, England, the locals will tell you the story of the cursed ring of Mary Grey, and the soul that wouldn't rest until her killer was brought to justice.

Now you have read about the legend of Mary Grey, make sure you learn about the corrupt execution that resulted in the legend of the screaming skulls of Calgarth.


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