The old house at the centre of this ghostly encounter was named Markygate Cell after a hermitage built by a 12th-century monk from * nearby-Saint Albans. In the 17th century Catherine Ferrers married, at the age of 13, a 16-year-old member of the local Fanshawe family.
The marriage was not a success and Catherine, probably as a result of boredom and frustration, took to a life of crime that was to lead to her being known as 'the wicked Lady Ferrers'. She became a highwayman and had a cupboard built into a chimney in the kitchen in which she kept her costume of hat, breeches and cloak. The cupboard was reached by a stairway (which still exists) and having dressed, she would descend the stairs and ride off on her black horse to rob and kill travellers and coach passengers.
She was shot one night while attempting to rob a coach, and although she managed to get back to her home, she died on the doorstep leading to the secret stairway. Following its discovery, the doorway was bricked shut for almost 200 years. It was soon after her death that her ghost began to be seen riding over the treetops in the surrounding countryside, and swinging in the branches of an oak tree beneath which she is reputed to have buried the money and jewels from her robberies.
Over the years there have been many sightings of the ghost of Catherine Ferrers. On one occasion, when there was a serious fire at Markygate Cell, she was seen by people trying to put out the flames under a tree in the garden. After the fire the current owner decided to open the bricked up doorway, but could not induce any local people to do the work because of the odd noises so often heard there. Workmen were eventually found in London and when they broke through the brickwork, they discovered a narrow staircase that led to a heavy door of oak. The room behind the door was empty. Driffield, Yorkshire | Aberdeen, Scotland | Arbroath, Scotland | Basildon, Essex | Blairgowrie | Cerro del vale | Edinburgh | Fife, Scotland | Ghost in Dumfries | Ghost in Perhshire | Harrises | Hereford, England | Killiecrankie, Scotland | Littlecote, Wiltshire | London, England | South Lanarkshire | York |
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