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A Strange Apparition at Long Wittenham
Ghostly Lady walks at Night

Mr. Henry Hewett, of the old manor at Long Wittenham, woke up in the middle of the night one time in September 1919. It was a lovely moonlit night, so he sat up in bed, admiring the effect on a holly tree. It made the tree look like oxidized silver. He had been looking out of the window for several minutes, so was wide awake, when he was startled by a lady walking across the room; a very beautiful lady, but with a very pathetic face full of sorrow. She seemed to be in great distress, having her hands clasped tightly in front of her.

Mr. Hewett was not in the least frightened, so had a good look at her as she walked very slowly towards the door. When she got to the door, she did not open it but vanished like a dissolving view. She had mouse coloured wavy hair and was dressed in grey, tight fitting over the bust. The style of dress was probably from around the14th or 15th century. Mr. Hewett later found her double in one of the Angels in Botticelli’s "Tobil with the Archangel".

The only thing that looked supernatural was a kind of mystic light about her showing up her features, the colour of her hair and her watery eyes: much clearer than the moon alone could have done; and the way she vanished in a kind of mist.

The apparition appeared in the second bedroom from the west of the house facing south, which room has two doors one leading to the bathroom and one to the third bedroom at which door the ghost vanished. The room is just over the old court room. There is one more room at the east end of the house, but it is not known if the ghost walked through all the rooms. The last room is about 100 yards from the fishponds which are said to be haunted by an apparition "man or woman they do not know, for they are too frightened to stop and see". The lady was probably this same spirit who the clergy are supposed to have laid in the fishpond at the end of the 18th century.

The lady may have been connected with the monks when they had the house, for it was a rest house for the brethren of Abingdon Abbey. Perhaps she was Beatrice de Braose, daughter of John of St. Helen, the unjust steward to the Abbot and monks of Abingdon, for she was dressed in the indoor dress of that period. No doubt the Abbot and monks cursed John and his daughter for taking this manor away from them. Certainly they did not give them their blessing. John gave the manor to his daughter in 1295.

Edited from the Berkshire Local History Recording Scheme (1925)


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