The Marbury Lady
edited: Thursday, December 20, 2001
By Rose G rose.moss@LineOne.net
Posted: Saturday, July 21, 2001
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When a young lord took a beautiful lady from Egypt home to his mansion, little did he know she would never leave.
A few years ago, I visited, Marbury, which I believe is the smallest village in Cheshire as there are only two houses there.
Marbury used to have quite a large population, as during the Second World War, it housed a camp for German Prisoners of War. When they returned home, young families moved into the huts, as there was a housing shortage, which wasn’t solved until the 1960’s. Eventually the families were re-housed and Marbury became the quiet place it is today.
There’s one inhabitant, though who never leaves the area, the White lady, who haunts Marbury.
Many years ago, the Smith -Barry family was a powerful force in Cheshire, owning much of the land and building great houses in Marbury, Tabley, Tatton, and Arley, and intermarrying with other local land owning families.
In those days, a young man’s education was considered incomplete unless he undertook the Grand Tour and saw all the classical antiquities for himself.
Not content with sights of Greece and Italy, the young heir to Marbury decided to visit Egypt and see the wonders of the pyramids and the Sphinx.
While he was there, he met a beautiful young woman, and one night as they watched the sun go down, he pledged his undying love to her and asked her to return home with him to Marbury. She readily agreed and set sail with him within the month.
The Egyptian lady was entranced by Marbury Hall and its architectural splendour. She also loved the extensive grounds and the beautiful Mere, where the lovers would sit and watch the graceful swans glide by.
The summer passed happily, but then winter came, the leaves fell from the trees and the Mere froze over. Great fires were lit in the hall to try and keep it warm, but the Egyptian lady shivered even when sitting by the fire. She felt her blood was freezing as the cold crept into her bones. She became ill and grew paler and thinner by the day.
The best physicians could do nothing to help her and she grew weaker. As her distraught lover sat by her bedside they wished for the springtime and dreamed of strolling through the woods and watching the sun set over the Mere again, once she grew stronger.
It was not to be, though, as the winter was long and hard that year. The Egyptian lady knew she was dying and called her lover to her bedside.
He wept and lamented ever bringing her to the cold English climate.
She smiled wanly at him.
“I’ve been happier here than at any time in my life.” she said. “Will you make me a promise?”
“I swear to do whatever will make you happy” the young man said.
“I know I’m dying, but I don’t want to leave this beautiful house. Promise me, when I’m dead to have my body mummified in the old Egyptian fashion and kept in this house forever”.
The young man clasped her hand. “I swear it.” He said.” You shall never leave this house as long as time endures.”
She smiled her thanks then breathed her last; content her dying wish was granted.
Her grieving lover summoned the finest embalmers, who mummified his beloved’s body and placed the elaborate coffin in a place of honour in the Hall.
Eventually the young man married and in due course, his son inherited Marbury Hall and his son afterwards for several generations.
The family began to find having a coffin in the house distasteful and contacted the Vicar of nearby Budworth Church to inter the lady in the churchyard. They held a grand funeral and went home satisfied, as they’d always found their ancestor’s Egyptian mistress something of an embarrassment.
Soon afterwards, the master of the house invited some guests to stay and took them for a tour of his estate. A woman all in white appeared and walked right through them. The terrified guests packed their bags and went home early.
The Master tried to forget the incident, putting it down to consuming to much claret at dinner, but wherever he went, there was the white lady, her hands raised in supplication, looking at him accusingly.
Eventually, he could endure it no longer and went back to the Vicar of Budworth and requested the coffin be exhumed and returned to the hall. As soon as that was done, the haunting ceased and peace returned to Marbury Hall.
As the years went by future generations attempted to bury the lady in Budworth churchyard, but her restless spirit would haunt them until she was returned to the hall she loved.
In the twentieth century, the last heir of that branch of the Edgerton -Warburton family died childless, and the hall became a Night Club until war broke out and it was occupied by soldiers guarding the German Prisoners of War.
Later a chemical company bought the hall and used it as a hostel for their workers, some of whom came from Liverpool and went home at weekends. The others were Polish refugees, who’d fought alongside the British during the war and feared to go home after the Communists came to power. Eventually most of the workers married and set up homes of their own .The hall fell into disrepair and was demolished about thirty years ago.
The grounds were acquired by the County Council and became a country park, where people can enjoy, bird watching, walking through the woods or sailing on the Mere.
The council took no chances, and when the hall was demolished, buried the Egyptian lady’s coffin on the site of the hall.
There are still people, who claim to see her wandering the woods though and few people would dare go there after dark.
During my visit, I enjoyed a peaceful walk round the mere listing to the birdsong. Then my guide led me to a different part of the woods, where there was little sunlight and an air of gloom. The air felt heavy and oppressive and the birds were silent.
“This is where the White Lady is said to walk,” she told me.
I suddenly felt cold and hurried out into the sunlight and retraced my steps to the Mere. I sat on a bench for a few minutes watching the swans, and I understood why the white lady didn’t want to leave such a beautiful spot. I hope she’s found peace at last.
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|Reviewed by Janet Caldwell
|Rose, I love this! It's perfect and I hope that The Lady has found her peace as well. Janet xoxoxo|
|Reviewed by TOMSDATTAR
|Reviewed by Debbi
Did you ever KEEP my Attention! Thank You!
|Reviewed by Cheryl Elliot
|Romantic gothic suspense is one of my favourite genres.This held echoes of Poe.|
|Reviewed by Dallas Franklin
|I really enjoyed this tale, Rose..love the history and how her spirit remained. You have done wonderful research and brought the lovers story to life..thanks! *S*S|
|Reviewed by Elizabeth
|Good job Rose!|
|Reviewed by Helen Armstrong
|Glad to keep uo with your work, Rose! Always check your spelling and punctuation - if it's faulty it can distract from your fine writing.
I enjoyed your story, which falls somewhere between narrative and reporting. Your use of dialogue is skillful and apt. it would be an interesting exercise to 'fictionalise' this story, really chilling the blood!
|Reviewed by Darlene Zagata
|This is an excellent story Rose, as all of your stories are. Very well presented.|
|Reviewed by Latha
|I really liked the story. But I wish there was someone who has actually seen the ghost. But I think the fact that you felt something while you were there is enough to see that there is something going on. Keep up the good work|
|Reviewed by Judy Fitzgerald
|I enjoyed reading your ghost story, but felt it lacked detail. Immediacy is possibly the word I am looking for.|
|Reviewed by LIllian
|Great story!I also wish there were more details about the Egyptian lady, but I realize those may have been "lost" due to the family's embarassment.|
|Reviewed by Elaine
|An enchanting and beautifully written story, Rose. I would have liked more detail about the Egyptian lady - a name, her personal history - but perhaps that's all meant to be part of the mystery you weave so well.|
|Reviewed by Helen Dowd (Reader)
|Very interesting. It was like a bit of history, with a twist. I don't usually read ghost stories, but because it was yours, I read it. Very good.|
|Reviewed by Natalie