“WITH ER’ ‘EAD TUCKED UNDERNEATH ‘ER ARMS”

 

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Ann Bolyn, who lost her head at the king’s whim. She haunts many an English palace, but only appears at her home of Hever at Yuletide.

Next to Charles Dickens’ famed spectres, the most notorious of English ghosts has to be the beautiful but ill fated Ann Bolyn.

One of Henry the Eighth’s less fortunate ex’s, he had her beheaded, supposedly because of her infidelity. Ever since, she has been reported to wander the Tower of London, her beautiful visage relocated under her right arm.

In truth, however, there are a number of places in England where Ann Bolyn’s ghost has been sighted–in most cases still lacking a head on her shoulders.  Ann has on occasion been sighted at Hever Castle, her childhood home; Blickling Hall, her alleged birthplace;
The Tower of London, where she was executed; Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle, where Anne and Henry resided during their marriage; Salle Church in Norfolk, where Anne’s body was allegedly moved after her original burial in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London and secretly buried under a black slab near the tombs of her Boleyn ancestors; and Marwell Hall in Hampshire, a residence of the Seymours between 1530-1638.

Wherever she may roam throughout the year, one thing is certain: at Christmastime she returns to her ancestral home of Hever Castle, in Kent.

Whether she haunts this castle, “with er ead tucked underneath er arms” is not certain; but we prefer to think not. She comes home to Hever for the holidays, so perhaps that is why she is on her best behavior here.

What is certain is that on Christmas Eve she can be seen walking across the bridge of the River Eden and onto the castle grounds. She has also been sighted under an ancient oak tree where she and Henry first courted. Perhaps for one night out of the year she may find a place to rest–her head still attached–in her ancestral home.

For more true ghost stories, see Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground, Dixie Spirits, and Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee; all are available at better book stores.

Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground chronicles true stories of unexplained phenomena in the Mid South.
Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground chronicles true stories of unexplained phenomena in the Mid South.
GHOSTS AND HAUNTS OF TENNESSEE
Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee. True haunting tales of the Mid South

A Dickens of a Christmas

 

DickensCharlesWritingWatkins
“Ideas, like ghosts, must be spoken to a little before they will explain themselves.”      Charles Dickens

Far and away, the most famous Christmas ghost story is, of course, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol .

If Dickens had never written another word, he would be famous for that story alone. Perhaps he was destined to be renowned for his unearthly tales, for from childhood, Dickens was told ghost stories . He was both terrified and enthralled by them at the same time.

Ironically, there is a strong possibility that Dickens himself is a Christmas ghost. How and why he may be himself a Christmas Spirit is a curious tale unto itself. 

To start with, only five days after his death in England, Dickens appeared at a séance in America. Ever since, the old boy’s shade has been reappearing at various times and in various places.

By no means did Dickens invent the tradition of telling ghost stories at Yuletide. In ancient times the period from Semaine to Beltane was the time one gathered around the hearth in the dark of the night and related dark and uncanny tales. Whether they were true or not mattered little; but by the flickering of the wood fire stories took on a life all their own, and many things that might be scoffed at during the day, were easily believed in the long winter’s nights. For one take on this and on Dickens’ role as popularizer of Chirstmas ghost stories see: “A Ghost for Christmas? Charles Dickens, Pudding, and Spooky Stories Around the Yule Log.”

Charles Dickens, despite his great fame in life, desired a quiet funeral in his native city of Rochester (England, not New York). However, his adoring public would have none of it; like all great British writers, it was demanded that he be buried in Westminster Abbey with elaborate pomp and ceremony. So, with all the ornate and elaborate ritual as befitted a Victorian funeral, Charles Dickens’s body was entombed in the great English cathedral.

The Fezziwig Ball A Christmas Carol 1843 edition
Fezziwig’s Ball: Dickensian revelry at its finest

But despite the funeral, Dickens was not laid to rest.

SCROOGES THIRD VISITOR
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT, Scrooge’s third visitor

It is said that, at Christmastide, the shade of the great author returns to his home in Rochester and walks again among the living, like old Marley in his famous tale. People passing by the former home have sworn to have seen a ghostly gent dressed in antique dress walking past it.

Like Marley's ghost haunting Scrooge, Dickens ghost is said to haunt the streets of Rochester England.
Like Marley’s ghost haunting Scrooge, Dickens ghost is said to haunt the streets of Rochester England.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such then, is the strange tale of Charles Dickens, who may well, himself, be a Dickens of a ghost.

There are those who scoff at this account; others swear by its veracity. Either way, have a Dickens of a Christmas season!

For more true ghost stories see: Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground, Dixie Spirits and Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee.

Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee                                                                              Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee: More true tales of the Unknown, the Unexplained and the just plain Spooky in the Mid-South. Read it with the lights left on, otherwise the author can accept no responsibility for the consequences.

open-uri20150930-11-1wp63v
Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground: True Tales from the Haunted Hills and Spectral Vales of the Mid South.