A collection of true ghost stories from the United Kingdom detailing the sightings of spirits that have returned to search for the treasures and wealth that they left behind.
On a bright night in the early part of the last century, an old woman walked to the town of Mold, in Flintshire, to lead her husband home from a public house. The couple were about a quarter of a mile out of town on their homeward journey, walking along the Chester road, when the woman, who was walking a little ahead of her husband, was startled to see across the road in front of her a warrior-like figure which she later described as "of unusual size, and clothed in a coat of gold, which shone like the sun". The apparition then vanished quite suddenly into a gravel bank on the other side of the road.
When her husband came up she told him what she had seen. He laughed at her fancy, as did the many others to whom she repeated her story the next morning. There was a vague local tradition that the bank was haunted and it was commonly known by the name of Bryn-yr Ellyllon, or the Goblin's Hill. Despite that, however, no one took the old woman's tale of the golden ghost very seriously.
A section of the gravel bank had been cut off in making that part of the Chester road, and gravel for various purposes having been dug out of the remainder, a large pit had been made in the field adjoining the road. When, some years after the old woman's experience, farmer John Langford bought the piece of land for his farm, he employed some labourers to fill the unsightly hole by shoveling down the top of the bank to the level of the rest of the field. As the workmen progressed, they found themselves removing much bigger stones, including several very large round ones, and at a depth of about four feet from the top of the mound - obviously the original surface of the ground - they came upon what seemed to be an outsize breastplate or corselet, some three-and-a-half feet long and eight inches wide in the centre. It lay as it might have been worn, with the breast upwards and the back parts doubled behind. Under it was discovered the bones of a man, and a little above it, as the body had been buried, a skull.
The discovery was made on October 11, 1833. The vicar of Mold, the Rev Charles Butler Clough, reported: "The corselet suffered considerable mutilation. Mr Langford, upon its discovery, having no idea of its value, threw it into a hedge, and told the workmen to bring it with them when they returned home to dinner. In the meantime, several persons broke small pieces off it."
The corselet, richly decorated with heavily embossed work, was in fact a thin solid plate of gold. Today it is a unique and priceless exhibit in the British Museum, where also are filed the reports of the farmer and the vicar, who tells the story of the apparition seen by the old woman and testifies that it was "an undoubted fact" that she had related it at the time. The odd thing, adds the vicar, was that one of the people to whom she had told her story, years before, was farmer Langford himself, who, like all the rest, had taken little account of it.
There is a sequel. In more recent years the corselet has been established as being not a portion of some rich warrior's armour, but a peytrel or breastplate for the horse on which he rode. The whereabouts of the restless soldier's own golden armour, if it still exists, remains a mystery, as does his identity. The apparition may still walk, and his armour lie, in the region of Mold, where certainly some families today include among their prized possessions gold rings and breastpins known to have been made from pieces broken off the corselet as it lay discarded in the hedge.
In a part of West Sussex, there were many reports over the years of appearances made by a bearded, armour-clad Saxon warrior. All who saw the apparition gave the same description of it, adding that the wandering spectre "seemed to be searching for something". This gave rise to talk of buried treasure and caused several searches to be made in the locality favoured by the spectral warrior, close to the village of Storrington. All were fruitless. But vindication of the ghost-seers came when the phantom's hoard was eventually discovered, again by accident.
In 1865, the owner of Upper Chancton Farm, near the village of Washington, three miles from Storrington, decided to demolish an old barn that was fenced in and surrounded by a hedgerow containing some large trees. The trees were cut down and the ground ploughed up. About a year afterward, on December 21, 1866, one of the last remaining tree roots was dug up to allow the plough to pass. While busy on this work the farm labourers saw an old crock or earthenware pot that had been buried in the ground. Their vigorous efforts to dig up the tree stump smashed the pot into tiny fragments and disgorged its contents, more than two thousand silver pennies of the Saxon period, some coated with the green rust of centuries, but most of them as fresh as though they had just been issued from the mint.
There was a wild scramble among the labourers on the spot and many of the coins were carried away by them to be sold to people at Shoreham and Brighton, and in London. However, the bulk of the hoard, 1,611 coins, found its way to the Government, and the vicar of Storrington, the Rev James Beck, managed to retrieve another 108, though he reported that other coins were still secreted by the villagers in the hope of getting a good price for them in the future.
After the discovery of his lost treasure, the Saxon warrior ceased his wanderings.
Treasure of a very different nature was discovered in 1851 in the small Northamptonshire village of Barby, a few miles from Daventry.
In the early part of that year, a comfortably off but excessively miserly widow of the name of Webb, a native of the village, was taken seriously ill. The widow, who had starved and badly neglected herself, was nursed by two neighbours, Mrs Griffin and Mrs Holding, while her nephew, a farmer in the village called Hart, supplied her with food and other needs. The widow made a will bequeathing to Hart all her possessions. At two o'clock on the morning of March 3rd, 1851 she died, aged sixty-seven.
After the funeral, all the furniture in the house was taken away and the empty house was locked up. A month later, Mrs Holding, who lived next door with her uncle, was alarmed to hear loud and heavy thumps against the partition wall, and against the door of a cupboard in the room wall. There were other strange noises, like the dragging of furniture about the empty rooms, all occurring at about two in the morning. Then, early in April, the dead woman's house acquired new tenants. A family of the name of Accleton, much in need of somewhere to live, took the place as it was the only house in the village vacant. The husband and wife occupied the bedroom in which Mrs Webb had died, their ten-year-old daughter sleeping in a small bed in the corner. Immediately on settling in, the family began to hear violent noises in the night, "thumps, tramps, and tremendous crashes, as if all the furniture had been collected together and then banged on the floor." The noises invariably occurred at about two o'clock.
One night at this time the parents were awakened by sudden screams from their daughter. "Mother! Mother!" she cried, "there's a tall woman standing by my bed, shaking her head at me!" (Mrs Webb was a very tall woman). Her parents, who could see nothing, did their best to calm the child, but at four o'clock they were awakened by her screams and the cry that she had seen the tall woman again.
The girl was troubled by this apparition on several successive nights. On another night, Mrs Accleton, during her husband's absence, got her mother to sleep with her, but she was awakened at the same hour of two o'clock by an unusual light in her room. Looking up, she saw plainly the ghost of Mrs Webb, which moved towards her with a gentle appealing manner. The spectre was seen similarly by Mrs Griffin and Mrs Holding, also by a Mrs Radbourn. They said that luminous balls of light seemed to go up towards a trapdoor in the ceiling which led to the roof of the house, and the phenomenon was accompanied by a low moaning noise similar to that of a woman in her death agony.
Mrs Accleton then made the suggestion that the appearance of the widow's ghost might be connected with a "hoard" that she had secreted up in the roof space. Hart, the nephew, thought there might be something in this, and together he and Mrs Accleton made a search. In the loft, by the light of a candle, they discovered a bundle of deeds and a large bag of gold and banknotes.
Still, the knocking and moaning of the late Mrs Webb did not cease. They ended, however, after Hart, on finding that she had died owing certain debts, scrupulously paid them. Tradition tells of many ghosts said to indicate the presence of buried treasure, or to be the guardians of it. Among these stories, that of the White Lady of Blenkinsopp Castle remains one of the most fascinating blends of truth and legend. The castle, which lies on the Western border of Northumberland near Haltwhistle, was built over 600 years ago, and though the passing centuries have taken their toll of the once magnificent building, with its seven feet thick walls, the story of the restless, plaintive phantom said to haunt it has persisted keen and strong.
Handsome Sir Bryan de Blenkinsopp, says tradition, was gallant and brave on the battlefield and border raid, enjoying a very favourable reputation, but his one failing was an inordinate love of wealth. This vice he cherished in secret, until rashly disclosing himself at the marriage of a brother warrior with a lady of high rank and fortune. When, as the various toasts were made, the guests came to drink to the health of Blenkinsopp and his future lady love, he replied, "Never, never shall that be until I meet with a lady possessed of a chest of gold heavier than ten of my strongest men can carry into my castle." This statement was received in astonished silence. Blenkinsopp, ashamed of having betrayed his secret thoughts, left the castle and his country soon after. A few years later he returned, bringing with him not only a foreign-born wife but also, as her dowry, a box of gold that took twelve of his strongest men to carry into the castle. There was a great feasting and rejoicing for the lord's return, and the fame of his new wealth spread far and wide. But the gold soon came between man and wife and after a time it began to be whispered that the life of the rich baron was anything but a happy one. Blenkinsopp and his wife quarreled continually, and in her despair, hoping that it might bring about their reconciliation, the wife, with the help of the followers who accompanied her, hid the chest of gold in some part of the castle during her husband's absence, and refused to give it up to him on his return. Nor was he able to extract anything from her followers, who spoke in a foreign tongue. After a further series of bitter arguments, Blenkinsopp one day rode from the castle, never to return.
His wife now broke down and was inconsolable for her loss. Vassals were sent out to all parts to discover where her husband had gone, but without success. After waiting for more than a year, the distressed woman, about whom very little was known in the neighbourhood, took her attendants and left the castle in search of him. Neither was ever seen again, the fate of both husband and wife remaining a complete mystery. Tradition says, however, that eventually the wife did find her way back to South Tyne, and, filled with remorse at her conduct towards her husband, could not rest in her grave and wandered back to the castle to mourn over the chest of gold, the cause of their misery. This she would do until someone with sufficient courage followed her and removed the treasure, so giving her spirit rest.
The ghost of the White Lady seen walking the castle grounds has been reported many times. In the eighteenth century, a labourer of the estate and his family went to live in two of the more habitable rooms of the run-down castle. The parents slept in one room, their children in the other. One night, husband and wife were roused by loud screams from the other room and on rushing in found one of the children, a boy, sitting up in bed terrified. "The White Lady! The White Lady!" he screamed. The parents examined the room but saw nothing, and tried to reassure their son. "She is gone," replied the boy, "and she looked so angry at me because I would not go with her. She was a fine lady - and she sat down on my bedside, wrung her hands and cried sore, then she kissed me and asked me to go with her, and said she would make me a rich man, as she had buried a large box of gold, many hundred years since, down in the vault, and she would give it to me, as she could not rest as long as it was there. When I told her I durst not go, she said she would carry me, and was lifting me up when I cried out and frightened her away."
Persuading themselves that the boy had been dreaming, the parents managed to calm him and get him to sleep; but on the three following nights, they were roused in the same manner, the child giving the same story with little variation. They then took him from the room to sleep elsewhere, and were no longer troubled by the spectre, though the boy would never afterward enter any part of the old castle alone, even in daylight.
Up until 1820, some poor families continued to live in a few of the better rooms of the crumbling castle. Then all was left to ruin.
After some years, the occupier of the neighbouring farm ordered the vaults underneath the castle keep to be cleared out so that he could winter some cattle there. When the rubbish was removed, a small door level with the bottom of the keep was revealed. The entrance to a damp passage was cleared out and the news quickly spread that the entrance to "The Lady's Vault" had been discovered, which drew many local people to the scene. Among them, only one man was found willing to enter the passage, which was narrow and not high enough for a man to stand upright. He soon reappeared from his exploration. He said he had walked forward for a few yards, descended a flight of steps, and carried on again until coming to a doorway, the door of which had fallen to pieces. At this juncture, the passage took a sudden turn and there was a steep flight of steps. Opening his lantern and turning the light, he peered down the steps into the darkness. But then, encountering noisome vapours, his candle died out and he had to grope his way back to the entrance.
He entered the passage a second time, but again his light was extinguished and he was not able to descent the second flight of steps. This dampened the ardour of the treasure-seekers, and the farmer had so little curiosity about the passage that he ordered it to be closed up.
The castle now stood abandoned, a crumbling skeleton of its former splendor, but in 1875 it passed from the hands of the Blenkinsopp family to Edward Joicey, who made great efforts to restore it. In five years the castle was almost completely rebuilt, only some of the inner walls, and portions of the outer shell, being retained. During this restoration work, the entrance to the secret passage was rediscovered. The passage was believed to be some one and half miles long, linking the castle with the stronghold of Thirlwall, and somewhere along it, the hidden treasure chest was thought to lie. But no more attempts were made to explore the passage. The castle remained in the possession of the Joicey family until 1951, during which time no appearance of the White Lady was reported. In 1951 the sixteen-roomed castle, in its nineteen acres of land, was acquired by a new owner, who, it was announced, would at some later date lead an attempt to trace the treasure of the White Lady, but this never came about. In 1954 the castle was severely damaged by fire, leaving it a charred and roofless shell except for the sturdy west wing. The following year, the castle and its land were bought by Mr Charles Simpson, who restored the west wing as a home for his family and started a poultry farm and caravan site on the grounds.
Mr Simpson never made any attempt to trace the legendary treasure, and he reported that he had not personally seen the ghost of the White Lady himself.
As of today, 2022, Blenkinsopp Castle Country Inn & BB sits on the grounds, however, it is not connected to the section that was previously the family home.
Now you have read about the ghosts hunting for their previous possessions, make sure you learn about the real ghosts that have tormented the British Royal Family for years.