Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Ghost of Anne Tottenham

Anne Tottenham was the unlucky daughter of Charles Tottenham, a stern an humorless parent. Anne lived with her father and stepmother in Loftus Hall, a lonely and, by all accounts, ugly residence.

When a young horseman asked for shelter one rainy night, Anne quickly fell for him. Rather than marrying her and taking her away from Loftus Hall, however, the young man rode away when the weather permitted, leaving Anne behind. "Her reason gave way", as the saying was, and Anne was confined to the tapestry chamber in the Hall for the rest of her life. Looking at the case from a more modern perspective, it seems far more likely that Anne attempted to leave the Hall and join her would-be lover, or that she threatened suicide; it's hardly likely that, even for such a lonely woman, insanity would have followed her brief acquaintance with the charming visitor.

A story got out that Anne's young man was none other than the devil himself, which Anne discovered one evening when she leaned down to pick up a playing card that had fallen on the floor, and saw that her visitor had cloven feet. When she screamed, he disappeared in a puff of smoke. For some reason, Anne's father and stepmother preferred this ridiculous story to the truth, and stated that the devil was causing the disturbances in their home.

The tapestry chamber, where poor Anne spent the rest of her life, became haunted by her ghost. One guest experienced an entity jumping on his bed and growling like a dog. Another woke the house with his screams, after the bed curtains were pulled aside and he saw a woman wearing a brocade dress standing next to the bed, staring at him.

Another guest, who had stayed up late reading, saw a woman in a brocaded dress pass through the room and enter the closet. When she appeared the following night, he tried to catch her - and his arm went right through her. She continued to the closet, where she vanished.

Years later, that same guest was staying at the Hall again when another guest's valet - the one whose screams had awakened the house on a previous visit - refused to sleep in the tapestry chamber. When the guest asked the valet why he would not sleep in that room, the valet asked, "Is it not possible that you do not know that Miss Tottenham passes through that room every night, and, dressed in a stiff flowered silk dress, enters the closet in the corner?"

The guest shared his previous experience with the valet, who replied, "Yes, that was Miss Tottenham, and, as is well known, she was confined—mad—in that room, and died there, and, they say, was buried in that closet."

Anne bedeviled visitors of generations of owners of Loftus Hall. One guest found his belongings strewn around the room one morning. Another felt a growling something jump on the bed and pull off the covers (unlike the other growling victim, however, he did not fire a pistol up the chimney).

In 1868, a friend of the owners' visited the Hall, and asked the housekeeper how Miss Anne took to the changes in the tapestry room, which had been converted into a billiards room. The housekeeper, frightened, finally said, "Oh, Master George! Don't talk about her: last night she made a horrid noise knocking the billiard-balls about!"

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