On the outskirts of this village there is, or was, a pool which was believed to be bottomless, and was known as the Black Pool. At night a ghostly White Lady rises from its depths and wanders about the roads. In 1881 the vicar’s servant, a man named Hughes, told Charlotte Burne how he had met this phantom once, in his younger days, without at first realizing what she was. He was crossing a narrow footbridge by the ford at Longnor Brook:

I sid [saw] ’er a-cumin’, an’ I thinks, ’ere’s a nice young wench. Well, thinks I, who she be, I’ll gi’e ’er a fright. I was a young fellow then, yo’ know – an’ I waited till ’er come up close to me, right i’ the middle o’ the bridge, an’ I stretched out my arms, so – an’ I clasped ’er in ’em, tight – so. An’ theer was nothin’!

On one occasion, Hughes said, the White Lady had appeared at a nearby public house, the Villa, but again she had not at first been recognized:

Joe Wrigley, he told me. There was a great party held in the garden, and he was playing the fiddle. And they were all daincin’, an’ she come an’ dainced, all in white. An’ everyone was saying, ‘What a nice young ’ooman – Here’s the one for me – I’ll have a daince wi’ ’er’ – and so on, like that. And she dainced and dainced wi’ ’em, round i’ the ring, but they could’n’ niver ketch ’old on ’er hand. And at last she disappeart all of a sudden, and then they found out who it ’ad bin, as ’ad bin daincin’ along wi’ ’em. And they all went off in a despert hurry, and there was niver no daincing there no more.

Charlotte Burne was inclined to classify this White Lady as a fairy, in view of her association with water and her skill at dancing in a ring, although another of her local informants declared the apparition was the ghost of a lady who drowned herself in the pool, having been disappointed in love. (There is even something demonic in her sinister manifestation in the dance hall.)



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