A Regency Ghost Story

Here is a tale from:

ACCREDITED GHOST STORIES.
COLLECTED
BY T. M. JARVIS, ESQ.
LONDON:
PRINTED FOR J. ANDREWS, NEW BOND STREET.
1823.
(Google Books)

It is the tale of Lord Lyttleton. Not the “great and good” Lord Lyttleton, but his “witty and profligate” son, who in 1778 (a little before the Regency- I exaggerated) “retired from the metropolis, with a party of his loose and dissapated companions” to his country house, Pit Place, near Epsom in Surrey.

One day his friends noticed that Lord Lyttleton’s mood had turned depressed, putting a damper on their debauchery. At their urging he finally told them what had altered his mood.

Two nights before, on his retiring to his bed, after his servant was dismissed and his light extinguished, he had heard a noise resembling the fluttering of a dove at his chamber window. This attracted his attention to the spot; when, looking in the direction of the sound, he saw the figure of an unhappy female, whom he had seduced and deserted, and who, when deserted, had put a violent end to her own existence, standing in the aperture of the window from which the fluttering sound had proceeded. The form approached the foot of the bed:—the room was preternaturally light; the objects of the chamber were distinctly visible:—raising her hand, and pointing to a dial which stood on the mantelpiece of the chimney, the figure, with a severe solemnity of voice and manner, announced to the appalled and conscience-stricken man that, at that very hour, on the third day after the visitation, his life and his sins would be concluded, and nothing but their punishment remain, if he availed himself not of the warning to repentance which he had received. The eye of Lord Lyttelton glanced upon the dial; the hand was on the stroke of twelve:—again the apartment was involved in total darkness:—the warning spirit disappeared, and bore away at her departure all the lightness of heart and buoyancy of spirit, ready flow of wit, and vivacity of manner, which had formerly been the pride and ornament of the unhappy being to whom she had delivered her tremendous summons.


Lyttleton’s friends laughed at his superstition and tried to cajole him into believing he’d merely had a bad dream. Later when he retired to his room, they had a brilliant idea. They turned all the clocks ahead an hour and kept Lyttleton busy enough that he did not notice.

When eleven o’clock on the appointed day came, Lyttleton again became depressed, fearing his death, but soon enough the clocks all struck twelve. “Thank God, I’m safe,” exclaimed Lord Lyttelton. He and his friends celebrated with a lot of wine. He retired to bed and his friends waited out the hour for twelve midnight designated by the vision. Lyttleton’s bell rang violently as the clocks struck one. The men ran up to the room and found their friend. Lyttleton “lay extended on the bed before them, pale and lifeless, and his countenance terrible convulsed.”

Two years later Lyttleton’s stepmother painted the scene of the apparition appearing to him. The painting hung in her drawing room and showed the dove in the window and the female figure in white.

Do you have any Regency ghost stories?
What’s your favorite ghost story?

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to A Regency Ghost Story

Comments are closed.