The Ghostly Bridal of Featherstonehaugh
From: Ghosts and Legends of Northumbria
Featherstone Castle, on the east bank of the South Tyne about three miles from Haltwhistle, enjoys a very picturesque setting, but the neighboring woods have long been believed to be haunted. The horror of the events that happened there makes a sad, romantic and tragic story.
Hundreds of years ago, the Baron of Featherstone had a beautiful daughter named Abigail, whom he adored. She was to marry a nobleman of rank and fortune. But, unfortunately, the bridegroom was the Baron’s choice. He had forbidden Abigail to meet again the man she truly loved.
Despite her tearful protests, Abigail was married in the castle chapel by the Priest of Haltwhistle. Afterwards the full bridal party set out to ‘ride the bounds’ – that was to ride in procession around the entire boundary of the estate, as tradition demanded. On their return to the castle, a magnificent banquet would be held in their honor.
Abigail’s lover had heard of this, and with a party of his friends, he was waiting in ambush in a little wood known as ‘Pynkinseugh’. His plan was to launch a surprise attack, rescue Abigail, and then they would make their escape together.
Back at the castle the feast was prepared and servants and minstrels waited with the Baron in the Great Hall to greet and serve the guests. Many hours passed without their return. The increasingly anxious Baron sent out men to search, but they could find no trace of the missing party. At last the servants were dismissed to bed, and only the Baron was left to keep a lonely vigil in the dimly lit Hall.
On the stroke of midnight he awoke from dozing to the sound of the castle drawbridge being lowered, and noises of horsemen in the courtyard. Almost in the same instance the bridal party filed silently into the Hall, and in the dead quiet took their places at the table. No one spoke, not a single word.
Gazing in puzzlement at his guests, the Baron began to realize to his horror that the white and frozen faces of his daughter and friends belonged to their ghosts. With a terrible scream he fell to the floor in a faint, and as he did, the ‘ghostly bridal party’ vanished from sight.
According to the story, the poor Baron never recovered his speech, and remained paralyzed for the rest of his life.
It was believed that when the bridal party was ambushed, a terrible fight had taken place, Abigail herself survived the slaughter, and the blood from the dreadful carnage flowed into a hollow stone, which is known to this day as ‘The Raven’s Stone’.
Every year on the anniversary of the tragedy, the ghostly bridal party rides again through the woods near Featherstonehaugh. It is said that the sound of hoof beats and the jingling of harness can be heard clearly. Strangely, although time has altered the landscape, the riders keep to their original route, passing straight through any walls or fences that now bar their way.
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