We start the show off with a recap of the second half of our Carolina Roadtrip and then comes the Tower of London! In London, located on the north bank of the River Thames, stands a tower that the mere mention of the name inspires feelings of dread and the macabre and that is because this structure’s thousand-year-old history is full of imprisonment, torture and execution. Many famous names in history met their final demise at the Tower of London. The Great Tower was not always a prison. It served as a royal residence for a time and is officially known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. Control of this piece of property usually signified control of the country. Because so much mystery, intrigue and death is associated with the structure, it is reputed to be quite haunted. Our infamous Lady in White is only one of the many spooks people claim to have seen or felt. Join us as we explore the history and haunting of the Tower of London. The Moment in Oddity was suggested by Bob Sherfield and features painting with dead hands and This Day in History features the Soviet Union Launching Sputnik into Space. Our location was suggested by Bob Sherfield.
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This episode on the Tower of London states that Lady Arbella Stuart was murdered in the Tower in 1615. There is no evidence that Arbella was murdered. Also, I have never come across any accounts that Arbella actually haunts the Queen’s House, if she does, then it is probably a residual haunting.
With no hope of release Arbella seems to have given up on life and starved herself to death. To counter any claims of possible foul play a post mortem was carried out.
An investigation found that her death was “caused by a chronic and long sickness; the species of disease was illam jamu producem in cachem. One that after a long time resulted in ill health and malnutrition which increasing as well as by her negligence as by refusal of remedies by long lying in bed she got bedsores and a confirmed, unhealthiness of liver and extreme leanness, and so died.”
As was custom for a person of status Arbella’s body was embalmed. Arbella’s remains were taken to Westminster Abbey and placed in the same vault as Mary Queen of Scots. The ceremony is believed to have taken place at midnight without ceremony. Nor was there any official mourning for Arbella.
It has been suggested that Arbella suffered from Porphyria, which may have been the cause of the madness of King George III.
Porphyria is genetic and can skip generations. It usually affects females – not emerging until the twenties. Arbella whilst displaying some of the symptoms particularly later in life may not have been mad. In January 1603 rumours circulated Arbella was ‘half-mad’. Arbella was however, distracted and not thinking clearly around this time.
In mid February 1603 Arbella was suffering from abdominal pains and was taking medication. In late 1612 Arbella was certainly ill in the Tower of London. She was treated for convulsions.
Porphyria may in part help explain why Arbella at one time held the delusional belief that her husband was going to come join her in the Tower.
Acute intermittent Porphyria is a hereditory disease characterised by abdominal pain, difficulty in swallowing, muscle weakness, stomach and liver distention. Mental shifts ranging from depression and excitement to delusions, convulsions, emaciation, and if sufficiently severe death.
There is no evidence of Porphyria in Arbella’s direct ancestor’s, but it did exist in the Stuart line. Descriptions of King James I health point to him having a milder version of Porphyria; the disease may have killed his son, Prince Henry, aged 18.
Historians have argued over whether Mary Queen of Scots also had the disease. Some say she did whilst others refute the suggestion. If Arbella had the disease it would have come to her through her father, Charles Stuart, and the common genetic source of the disease in both Arbella and King James I was Margaret Tudor.
Porphyria would not have been properly understood in Tudor and Jacobean times. Porphyria was a ‘possible’ underlying disease that ultimately brought about Arbella’s death. The pain associated with Porphyria has been described as being worse than childbirth.
If Arbella was suffering so badly, and with no prospect of ever being released and seeing her husband again, then it should not be surprising if Arbella made a conscious decision to end her own life – which she did by starving herself to death.
Lady Arbella Stuart’s ghost is said to haunt Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire.
Briefly, Rufford Abbey lies close to what was the heart of Sherwood Forest. After the Norman Conquest, William I gave the Manor of Rugeford to his nephew, Gilbert Le Gaunt. Glbert’s grandson, Gilbert, Earl of Lincoln, founded a Cistercian abbey at Rufford in 1146.
After Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries the abbey became a private estate; first as the home of the Talbot family, then, in 1626, passing to the Saville’s, who were in residence for over 300 years until 1938. Rufford opened as a country park in 1969.
The claim that Lady Arbella Stuart haunts Rufford is a strange one as Arbella only ever visited Rufford Abbey once in the summer of 1609. However, Rufford is where her parents Elizabeth Cavendish and Charles Stuart met and very soon married in late October 1574. The marriage was arranged-contrived by their mothers. When Queen Elizabeth I found out she was furious and summoned all concerned to London.
There is a white lady ghost at Rufford which is said to be Arbella. Also, a crying female ghost which is believed to be Arbella. Whether the white lady and the crying lady are one and the same person is not clear. A weeping child ghost has been reported. According to legend in the distant past a child was pursued through the abbey by an unknown assailant, and despite hiding, was discovered and murdered. There is no record of a child having been murdered at Rufford, so either it is a made-up story or it was a death that was covered up.
There is also a Black Friar in the grounds of Rufford. Described as a tall figure wearing a black monk’s cowl. Curiously, the Cistercian monks at Rufford Abbey would have worn white habits not black.
The apparition of an old lady pushing a pram has been seen in the grounds. Her style of dress is that of a nanny from the late Victorian or early Edwardian period. The ghost seems unaware of people who witness her, so may be a recording ghost that replays from time to time.
Thanks for the info Tim! I’ll add Rufford Abbey to the list of places we feature!