White Lady

A spectral apparition haunting old manorial residences. In the family of Gould of Lew Trenchard, in Devonshire, supposedly was a White Lady, described as flitting at full moon through the long avenue, "sparkling like the spray of a waterfall, as she passes from shadow into light." See the White Lady of Lew Trenchard House.

A second tradition of similar character belonged to the old Hall of Samlesbury, midway between Blackburn and Preston, which was formerly said to be haunted by a white apparition, supposed to be Lady Dorothy, the daughter of Sir John Southworth, a military commander in the early years of the reign of Elizabeth. She had formed an intimate acquaintance with the heir of a neighboring knightly house, but her father greatly disapproved. She and her lover agreed to elope but their plans were overheard by her brother. As they were about to depart, he slew the young knight and his two friends, and buried their bodies within the precincts of the domestic chapel; his sister was sent abroad to a convent where she was kept under strict surveillance. Her mind at last gave away — the name of her murdered lover was ever on her lips, and she died a raving maniac.

Some years later three human skeletons were found near the walls of the Hall, and popular opinion has connected them with the tradition. The legend also states that on certain clear, still evenings a lady in white could been seen traversing the gallery and corridors, and then from the Hall into the grounds: that she there met a handsome knight who received her on his bended knees, and he then accompanies her along the walks. On arriving at a certain spot, most probably the lover's grave, both the phantoms stand still, and, as they seem to utter soft wailings of despair, they embrace each other, and then their forms rose slowly from the earth and melt away into the clear blue of the surrounding sky.

Other White Ladies are found at Willington Dene, at North Shields, at Chester-le-Street, at Crookhall near Durham, at South Biddick Hall, and at Netherby Hall.



  • Harland, J. and T. Wilkinson. (1873). Lancashire Legends. London: George Routledge and Sons, pp. 263-264.
  • Hazlitt, W. Carew. (1905). Faith and Folklore. 2 vols. London: Reeves and Turner, p. 2:630.
  • Henderson, W. (1879). Notes on the folk-lore of the northern countries of England and the borders. Covent Garden: W. Satchell, Peyton and Co., p. 314.

This article incorporates text from Lancashire Legends (1873) by J. Harland and T. Wilkinson, which is in the public domain.