Originally in the churchyard of St Peter’s, now inside the church, is the massive marble base supporting a huge pyramid flanked by urns which marked the last resting place of General Joseph Sabine, governor of Gibraltar, who died at Gibraltar on 24 October 1739, aged seventy-eight. He was a professional soldier, who bought the estate of Tewin in 1715. It was his first wife, Hester Whitfield, whom a well-known story concerns.
According to a letter of 30 November 1759 printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1783, General Sabine was once dangerously ill of his wounds after a battle abroad, and, as he was beginning to recover, lay awake one night in his bed. By the light of a candle burning in his room, he suddenly saw the bed-curtains at the foot of the bed drawn back and his wife, ‘a lady whom he greatly loved’, and who was then in England, standing there. As suddenly as she had appeared, she vanished. Much struck, he wrote this experience down in his notebook. Not long afterwards, news came that she had died, at the exact time, as far as he could recollect, that she had appeared.
The writer of the letter heard this story from Dr Yarborough, rector of Tewin, who had known General Sabine well for many years. When the general told Dr Yarborough of the apparition, he added that the prevailing disbelief in ghosts of his contemporaries was one that he could ‘confidently oppose on the strongest grounds’. The rector accepted his story, believing him to be ‘a person of great honour and veracity, and much good sense’.