loftus hall

Loftus Hall

Today, I’ve got another ghost story from Ireland. It was also retold by St. John D. Seymour and Harry L. Neligan in True Irish Ghost Stories, 1914. You can purchase the book on Amazon.

In the middle of the eighteenth century, Charles Tottenham, a member of the Irish Parliament, lived in Loftus Hall, in County Wexford. He had two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne. Elizabeth, the older, was married, but Anne lived with him and his second wife, her step-mother, in the hall.  The father was a cold austere man, and the stepmother was as horrible as they tend to be in fairytales. Anne was lonely and depressed, with no friends and unloved by her family.

One wet and stormy night, as the three sat in the drawing room, they were startled by a loud knocking at the outer gate. Soon the servant announced that a young gentleman on horseback was requesting lodging and shelter. He had lost his way and had been guided by the only light he had seen. The stranger was admitted and refreshed, and proved himself to be an friendly, polite gentleman.  He stayed for several days and he and Anne formed quite an attachment.

Legend has it that the four of them, Anne and the stranger, her father and stepmother, played whist in the evenings. The stranger and Anne invariably won every point; the old couple never had the smallest success. One night, when Anne was in great delight at winning so constantly, she dropped a ring on the floor, and, suddenly diving under the table to recover it, was terrified to see that her agreeable partner had an unmistakably cloven foot. Her screams made him aware of her discovery, and he at once vanished in a thunder-clap leaving a brimstone smell behind him. The poor girl never recovered from the shock, lapsed from one fit into another, and was carried to the tapestry room. She was never allowed to leave the room again.

Many tales were told of how the devil continued to visit and disturb the house. Noises, apparitions, and disturbances were innumerable, and greatly distressed old Charles Tottenham, his wife, and servants. They finally called in the parish priest, Father Broders, who performed and exorcism and succeeded in confining the operations of the evil spirit to one room, the tapestry room of course, with poor Anne. Time passed and the parents and Anne died, although the manor stayed in the family.

Years later, the Marquis of Ely went to the Hall to spend some time there. His valet was given the tapestry chamber. In the middle of the night the whole family was aroused by his dreadful screams, and he was found lying in another room in mortal terror. After some time he told them that, soon after he had laid down, he was startled by the rattling of the curtains, and looking up he saw a tall lady by the bedside dressed in stiff brocaded silk. He rushed out of the room screaming with terror.

Another sighting happened years later. A man visiting the hall chose the tapestry room for his bedroom, unaware of the legend. One night, just as he was about to get into bed, to his surprise the door opened and shut. A tall figure of a lady in a stiff dress passed slowly through the room to one of the closets in the opposite corner. The next night the same thing happened, and the man’s arm passed right through the figure when he tried to stop her.

That same man again visited the hall at the same time as the Marquis of Ely. He and the valet compared stories and the valet told him that Miss Tottenham had been confined—mad—in that room, died there, and was buried in the closet.

Several other sightings occurred over the years.  Loftus Hall has since been wholly rebuilt, but it is not clear whether Anne Tottenham has visited or is banished at last. You can always schedule a tour if you want to see for yourself.

I have to admit that the picture makes Loftus Hall look like the perfect place to haunt. I’ve been sharing ghost stories, because I find them interesting, but I’m actually not much of a believer in ghosts myself. What about you?

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in and leave your link the comments.