Monday, 12 September 2011

Naworth's White Lady

entrance in the south facade
Some say a ‘ White Lady’ haunts Naworth.
Gatehouse

The spirit, so they say, is of a girl who was seduced by Lord Dacre. She became pregnant and upon discovering Lord Dacre’s rank and social standing realised they would never be together. She threw herslf into a stream on his wedding day and drowned. The body was discovered by Lord Dacre, his bride to be and the dead girl’s mother. The girl’s mother put a curse upon Lord Dacre, resulting in his death and that of his heirs.
The trick is to know which Lord Dacre was the culprit. In about 1315 Randolf de Dacre married Margaret of Multon (having first abducted her) and the Dacre name became associated with Lanercost Priory as well as Naworth. 172 years later Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Gilsland, married Elizabeth Greystoke, gaining the title 1st Baron Greystoke. Thomas would have been twenty at the time. A typical age, some would say, for a little amorous adventuring.
In addition to his legitimate offspring, Thomas, the 2nd Baron, also has an illegitimate son, Capt. Thomas Dacre, from whom the Lanercost Dacres are descended. In 1538 Henry VIII and Cromwell dissolved the monasteries, and Lanercost Priory was given to the Dacre family who had served him so well at Flodden. The main branch of the family continued to live at Naworth Castle, and the Lanercost Dacres took up residence in the west range of the monastic buildings in what is now known as Dacre Hall. They created a dwelling of some style.
Thomas's grandson, Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Gilsland and 3rd Baron Greystoke married twice, firstly to Elizabeth Neville, and the second time to Elizabeth Leyburne. When he died he left a son, George, and three daughters, Anne, Mary and Elizabeth.
It seems it took some time for the lady's curse to work on the family, and it has to be said that though George died young in a fall from a vaulting horse, the girls all married a sprig of the Howard family and went on to produce offspring. So it was also a rather selective curse.
If you believe in such things.

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