Sawston Hall

Sawston Hall The Ghosts of Queen Mary Tudor (Mary I) and a Lady in Gray are said to haunt this 16thcentury home in Cambridgeshire, England. The Haunting appears to be tied to an incident which happened on July 7–8, 1553.

Mary Tudor (1516–58) was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Because of her parents’ divorce, she was forced to declare herself illegitimate and renounce the Catholic Church. She was later ab solved by the pope. In 1553 Mary became involved in a struggle for the throne of England. Edward VI, Henry VIII’s son by his third wife, Jane Seymour, was dying of tuberculosis, and was persuaded by John Dudley, the duke of Northumberland, to confer the crown on Dudley’s daughterin- law, Lady Jane Grey, who was Henry VIII’s grandniece. The people, however, rallied behind Mary Tudor.

The duke attempted to imprison Mary. She fled, and on the night of July 7, 1553 she was taken in and hidden at Sawston Hall by the occupants, a family named Huddleston. At dawn on July 8, Northumberland’s men approached the house, and Mary escaped disguised as a milkmaid. In revenge, the men burned the house down.

Lady Jane Grey’s reign lasted but nine days. Mary Tudor was crowned queen and Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned and then beheaded.

In gratitude to the Huddlestons, Mary—who later was called “Bloody Mary” for her persecution of the Protestants— rebuilt Sawston Hall. A portrait of her still hangs in the Great Hall. Her ghost is seen gliding serenely through the house and moving at great speed through the gardens. The second haunting specter, the Lady in Gray (see GRAY LADIES), appears in the Tapestry Room, where she knocks three times at the door and then fl oats across the room.

Legend has it that Mary slept in the Tapestry Room; it is unlikely, though the four-poster bed there did survive the fire. However, those who have spent the night in “Mary’s Room” report being disturbed by phantoms and sounds of rapping at the door and someone fiddling with the latch. Nocturnal tappings also have been reported in a bedroom nearby. Sounds of a spinet and a girl laughing drift through the house.


  • Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. London: Reader’s Digest Assoc., 1977.
  • Underwood, Peter. A Gazeteer of British Ghosts. Rev. ed. London: Pan Books, Ltd., 1973.



The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007