Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hauntings: Newstead Abbey

Newstead Abbey (UK)

Newstead Abbey was originally built in the 12th century as a priory for Augustine monks. In the 1530s, King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church and the monks were kicked out. The priory was bought in 1540 by Sir John Byron—an ancestor of Lord Byron, the famous poet—and that began the first of 300 years of Byrons in Newstead Abbey.  
The Curse  According to an old superstition, people become cursed and have bad luck if a religious home is used as a private residence.  Several generations of the Byron family experienced bad luck and declining fortunes. By the time the last Lord Byron—the famous poet—lived at the abbey, it was in decrepit shape. Byron was forced to sell the property, and Thomas Wildman bought it. The curse affected the Wildman family too, and several more families that owned the property in later years were also plagued by bad luck. 

Along with the curse, ghosts haunt the abbey.

The “White Lady” ghost Sophia Hyett, a great fan of Byron’s poetry, lived near the Abbey.  The Wildman family gave her permission to roam their gardens whenever she liked.  Even after her death, people have reported seeing Sophia’s ghost, and she’s always dressed in white.

The Goblin Friar or the Black Friar This spirit presages doom.  He only appeared to heads of the Byron family just before something bad happened.  On the day Lord Byron married Anne Milbanke, he saw the Friar’s ghost.  The marriage turned out to be a disaster that lasted for only one year.  Lord Byron wrote about his encounter with the Goblin Friar in the poem “Don Juan.”

Boatswain’s ghost Lord Byron had a pet dog, a Newfoundland called Boatswain.  When the dog died, he was buried at Newstead, and one of Byron’s last wishes was to be buried with his beloved pet.  However, when Byron died in 1824, he was buried at the famous and prestigious Westminster Abbey.  It’s said that the ghost of the big Newfoundland dog wanders Newstead, looking for his master.

The “Rose Lady” This ghost is often seen at the bottom of staircase and is always accompanied by the scent of roses that lingers after she disappearsOne notable appearance she made was in front of a group of tourists.  The tourists were frightened, and the staff believe this was done as a protest by the Rose Lady because tour leaders hadn’t included her story in the tour.  Now, she's always mentioned, and she’s been seen less often.

The Legend of the Rooks Rooks (crows) live on the property by the hundreds.  It’s believed they're the souls of the monks who once lived at the abbey.  American author Washington Irving stayed there and reported he saw all the rooks leaving in the mornings to search for food and then returning every nightfall.  They did this every day, Monday through Saturday
except Sundays, when they remained roosting in their nests as if it's their "day of rest."  The locals are so sure the rooks are the former monks that hunting or shooting them is forbidden.

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