Saturday, 24 September 2011

The White Lady of Cresswell

Illustration by Barry Van-Asten

Barry Van-Asten

The night was still, and the full moon being just three nights old, cast a wondrous spectral light over Cresswell and far out over the North Sea.
Knowing nothing of the history of the place except for a tale related by a taxi driver from Ashington who saw the ‘white Lady’, my fellow paranormal enthusiast and I decided to investigate the site.
And so, at 1.20 a.m. we set off into the dark woods in search of some architectural remains of Cresswell Manor House. The woods were quiet and eerie and we soon came upon some stone wall which continued for some distance, broken in parts and beneath dense undergrowth. We examined the stones by torch-light and indeed they may have been part of the remains of William Cresswell’s Manor House, or perhaps after the house was demolished, the stones were taken to build a boundary wall; some stones did show signs of being worked.
Leaving the woods, we decided to investigate the reputedly haunted Cresswell Tower. On our way to the tower, we noticed the door set into the high wall that surrounds the site, and suggests it was a main entrance to the Manor House in the past. Following the wall, we turned at a right angle and cut across a grassy slope as the gloomy tower rose up before us, bathed in soft September moonlight. The silence heightened the anticipation of experiencing some sort of supernatural activity and as we peered over the low perimeter wall, we half expected the white Lady to reveal herself, perhaps weeping at the base of the tower, or looking far out to sea from an upper window.
The story goes that the white Lady, who may or may not be a member of the ancient Cresswell family, was in love with a Danish Prince. The romance did not favour well with the Lady’s family but the handsome Dane had won the fair Lady’s heart.
One day, in expectation of the Prince’s return from sea, the Lady climbed upon the roof of her home to look for the arrival of his ship. And indeed the ship did appear and anchored in nearby Druridge Bay. The Prince rushed ashore to meet the Lady and the Lady rushed down from the roof to meet the Prince. But before they could embrace the Lady’s three brothers ambushed the Prince and cut him down with their swords. The Lady witnessed the horrific murder of her beloved Prince and was devastated and lost the will to live. She eventually died of starvation and it is said, her ghost still haunts Cresswell Tower.
After a short vigil, we gave up the ghost, so to speak and headed towards the sand dunes of Druridge Bay and watched the waves breaking upon the mysteriously beautiful stretch of Northumbrian coast; but all the time, there was the strange mesmeric fascination to look towards the tower in the hope of catching a glimpse of the tragic white Lady of Cresswell.

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