Longleat Stately home in Wiltshire, England, haunted by several ghosts, including the “Green Lady,” who is said to mourn her murdered lover.
Since the Reformation, Longleat has been the home of the Thynne family. Superstitions and Ghost lore have surrounded it for centuries.
The Red Library is haunted by two ghosts. One is Sir John Thynne, the first occupant of Longleat. Sir John bought what was a run-down priory and began turning it into an elegant residence. Shortly after construction was completed about 1568, the house burned down and had to be rebuilt. Sir John died in 1580. The second ghost, also named John, was killed in action during World War I in 1916. Tour guides have seen him reading books in the library and have mistaken him for a visitor.
The most famous ghost at Longleat is Lady Louisa Carteret, the Green Lady. In 1714, the house was inherited by four-year-old Thomas Thynne when his great-uncle died. The young boy, the second Viscount Wey – mouth, grew up arrogant and careless. He married at age 20 and almost immediately left his wife to go touring around the Continent. She died while he was away. At age 22, he married Lady Louisa. This relationship, too, was short lived. In three years of marriage, Louisa bore three sons. The third birth was problematic, and on Christmas Day 1736 she died from complications. Soon after her death, Thomas left Longleat and never returned. His youngest son died at age four. Thomas let the family home fall into disrepair.
In 1915, central heating was installed at Longleat, and the skeleton of a man wearing 18th-century boots was discovered under the flagstones in the cellar. A story arose that he had been a footman and the lover of Lady Louisa. Thomas had found out about him, murdered him in a duel and buried him in the cellar. There is no historical evidence to support the story, but it became part of the ghost lore surrounding the house. The morose Green Lady wanders a top-floor corridor named after her, and the reason for her sadness remains a mystery. A superstition holds that the Thynne family will die out if the swans, which have nested on the property for centuries, ever fly away.
- Brooks, J. A. Britain’s Haunted Heritage. London: British Tourist Authority, 1990.
- Coxe, Anthony D. Hippisley. Haunted Britain. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973.
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