Monday, March 28, 2016

My Father’s Encounter With A Roadside Spectre by Lily Verlaine

My father has had a few paranormal encounters in his lifetime but the most terrifying occurred in the heart of the Lancashire countryside.

Back in the early years of the 1970’s my father was a Bus Driver for SELNEC buses the main bus provider for buses in and around Manchester in the North West of England. As he had a young family to provide for and a mortgage, he had a second job he occasionally did coach party excursions, for the bus company for overtime. This often took him deep into the Lancashire countywide surrounding Manchester,

On one such occasion he was returning from dropping off a party, and was driving along a lonely country road, near Preston, it was very late at night, after eleven in fact, and my father was starting to feel really tired by that point. Being in the heart of the Lancashire countryside it was absolutely pitch black, no road or motorways lights, or anything of that description. Suddenly without warning, a figure ran into the path of the coach clearly lit up by the headlights, a young woman in a long white dress, my father swerved to avoid her, but as he knew she was right in front of the coach, he knew there was no way he couldn’t have hit her. He stopped the coach, his hands shaking, and his heart pounding, terrified and feeling sick to the stomach, at what he might see in the road. “Oh my god! “ He said to himself over and over, “ I’ve killed her ! “

He climbed out of the coach and rushed to see what he assumed would be the dead and mangled body of the woman lying in the road. To his astonishment nothing lay in the path of the coach, or besides the road, or even beyond. With his mouth dry and feeling queasy, he feared she could have been thrown in the air and landed yards away, imaging finding her mangled corpse someway down the road he retraced the path of the coach, but still found nothing. He even looked under the coach itself, thinking she may have been dragged under the wheels and beneath it, but again there was nothing.

Just then as he puzzled what could have happened and mumbled to himself, “I couldn’t have missed her, I couldn’t have”, the hairs on the back of his neck began to rise up, and he had the terrible feeling that he was being watched. He quickly got back into his coach, and started up the engine, just then he glanced into his wing mirror, and as he did so he saw a terrifying image clearly illuminated in the field beyond. Even though all around it was pitch black darkness, there stood the same woman in white and this time she seemed to be waving her arms at him. My father sped off from that spot so fast, not once stopping, and arrived home terrified and white faced. He was shaking so badly that night he said he couldn’t sleep, because as he told my mother he couldn’t get the woman’s face out of his head.

He often wondered who the mystery woman might have been, and did she appear to save him because he was in some danger of dozing off and crashing, and perhaps if so, did she appear again to reassure him that he hadn’t actually killed her, or was she a more sinister figure who meant him harm. I know there have been cases up and down the country, of white ladies running into the road causing motorists and motorbike riders nearly to crash.

My father left the family home shortly after that, and the mystery of who the lady might be was never solved.

Just recently I was watching an edition of the programme Great British Ghosts, with my mother , it was about Salmesbury Hall, near Preston. It was said that in the time of Elizabeth the first, Dorothy Southwark, tried to elope with her lover, who was killed, her ghost is said to haunt the land and road near the hall, often scaring motorists, it is quite near the location where my husband saw “ the white lady” perhaps it is her ?

Samlesbury Hall’s ghostly reputation has prompted several paranormal investigators to investigate it. Some of the most prominent investigative shows which have been to the Hall are Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters International and Most Haunted Live.

The legendary White Lady is the Hall’s most popular ghost. It is said that the White Lady is the ghost of Dorothy Southworth. Guests, as well as employees have seen her on several occasions. Lady Dorothy fell in love with a young man who was a member of the de Hoghton family. Unfortunately, Lady Dorothy came from a Catholic family and the de Hoghtons were Protestants. The two lovers were not given permission to marry. They defied their family and continued to see each other. They would meet along the riverbanks of the Ribble. They planned to elope and marry each other but someone got wind of their arrangement and it was reported back to Samlesbury Hall.

On the night of their arranged elopement, the lady’s brother waited in ambush. As soon as the young de Hoghton gentleman arrived, the lady’s brother sprang from his hiding place and killed the young man, as well as his two companions. They were hastily buried in the chapel grounds. The saddest part about it all was that Dorothy was there to witness all of it. She was inconsolable, and went insane before dying at a convent abroad. Three human skeletons were found hidden in the walls of Samlesbury Hall and this seems to add credence to the story.

Lady Dorothy’s spirit has lingered in the halls. She is often seen floating down the many corridors of the halls, crying for the love she lost. Is it her unhappy spectre that my father witnessed on that dark night ?

Artist’s impression of the white lady.

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