It is seldom that in the studies of the paranormal that you find two unrelated witnesses to the appearance of an apparition at a location not noted for haunting, and perhaps more significantly, a ghost that appeared during the hours of daylight.
And by chance, both witness accounts came to light through the conduit of a regional newspaper, as in the accounts supplied separately to the Derby Telegraph.
The first report was posted to their online forum on February 4th, 2015 from a motorist named as Lisa Fisher, who recounted her experience:
"I was driving towards Bretby Hall in Bretby on Monday around 2pm. There is a lane just off Ashby Road that leads up to the hall. As I turned into the lane I could see a young woman with black hair standing with a bike by the side of the road, about a 100m ahead. As I got closer I could see she was dressed in old fashioned clothes (floral dress and hair net). The bike had a wicker basket and also looked old. She watched me as I passed her. As I got further down the lane I happened to glance in the rear view mirror and saw the woman had disappeared."
Another report was made to the newspaper on February 26th by a motorist named as Janet Fielding, whose account bears striking similarities to the first:
"I was driving down Mount Road (not far from Bretby Hall) towards the Planters garden centre. It was around 4pm and raining quite badly. As I was driving down the road I passed a lady walking by the side of the road.
"She was quite tall and was wearing a floral dress and had her hair in a net. She looked in her early 30s and had black hair. The clothes looked very old fashioned and overall she looked out of place.
"When I passed her she turned her head and stared at me blankly. It was quite unnerving and creepy when she stared at me. I thought nothing of it and continued driving."
|A Lady in a Floral Dress - similar to that seen by the witnesses|
Bretby Hall was formerly the family seat of the Earl of Chesterfield.
Following the death of the 7th earl in 1871, the Estate passed to his widowed mother, Anne Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Chesterfield (1802–1885), whose good friend, Benjamin Disraeli, paid frequent visits to Bretby.
On the death of the Countess, her estates devolved upon Lord Porchester, the eldest son of her daughter, Evelyn (died 1875), who married in 1861 the 4th Earl of Carnarvon.
The 5th Earl of Carnarvon, the famous egyptologist for whom Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, commenced breaking up the Bretby estate during World War I. They never lived at Bretby, preferring their home at Highclere Castle, near Newbury, Berkshire. They did make regular visits, however, particularly for shooting.
The main estate was sold to Mr J D Wragg, the Swadlincote industrialist. The proceeds helped to fund the Carter’s search for the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt in the early 1920s.
In 1926, the Hall was sold to Derbyshire County Council and was run as an orthopaedic hospital until the 1990s when it was sold to a private developer, who has converted it into luxury apartments and suites.
Bretby Hall has little to say for itself with regard to hauntings, and the only account is that
of the ghost of the dying Lady Chesterfield who purportedly haunts the great bedroom.
She always appears to a bride who occupies the state chamber, but not necessarily to the bridegroom. A rather grand account of her haunting is given thus. `The unhappy lady partakes of the cup, then looks up with eyes full of agony and sorrow, but yet, expressing faith and innocence, utters a loud groan, falls back and dies.`
But no accounts as described by the two witnesses fits any known haunted tales, but it is worthy to mention that on both occasions that the witnesses were women.
So, who was this lady? Her clothing description fits any period from the 1920`s to the early 1950`s, and of course, it could be argued that the clothing description although classic, has still been worn in more contemporary times. However, the lady was seen twice wearing a simple floral dress in late winter without the comfort of warmer clothing.
Hopefully perhaps more witnesses will step forward to this roadside haunting, and hopefully perhaps one day her real identity in life will be known.
A very interesting tale.
Author: Chris Halton