Dover’s Hill

Ghost stories which involve the tragic doom of star-crossed lovers are likely to date from no earlier than the nineteenth century, and probably circulated among people with a literary background, not among the older rural population. A ghost story of this type is mentioned in Roy Palmer’s Folklore of Gloucestershire (1994); he says it was told to account for the white-cloaked figure which can be seen at ‘White Lady’s Gate’ on Dover’s Hill on the first night after a full moon. Her name in life was Beatrice, and her brothers fought for Cromwell in the Civil War; after the war ended they prospered, but a Royalist neighbour, Sir Roger, found himself reduced to poverty and became a highwayman. One day, he held up a coach in which Beatrice was travelling; they recognized one another and fell in love. They used to meet secretly by the gate on the hill, where Beatrice would signal to him by waving her white cloak. But her brothers spied on her and Roger; they imitated the signal and so drew him to the trysting-place, where they killed him. Beatrice went mad with grief, and has haunted the place ever since.

Though this romantic melodrama cannot be taken seriously as folklore, the name ‘White Lady’s Gate’ merits attention. There are spectral White Ladies in many places in Britain, generally without any explanatory anecdote attached, and gates, like crossroads, are sites where supernatural creatures were expected to manifest themselves.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008