Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bramshill's Entombed Bride

“Oh sad was her fate! In sportive jest,
She hid from her Lord, in an old oak chest.
It closed with a spring and her Bridal bloom,
Lay withering there in that living tomb.”
--Samuel Rogers

Fourteen distinct ghosts haunt Bramshill near Hook in Hampshire. One of them is a White Lady who always announces her presence with a strong floral scent. This scent is Lilly -of -the-Valley.

Bramshill is an imposing Jacobean mansion that sits on 300 acres with magnificent views. Young Henry, son of James l, had Bramshill built to be used as a royal palace. But he died of typhoid before it was completed in 1625.

The mansion then was owned privately until 1953 when the Home Office for housing acquired it for Britain’s premier Police College. In 1913, the Home Office put the mansion up for sale for £25million.

A Tragic Game

A fifteen-year-old bride, Ginevre Orsini married on Christmas Eve in 1727. But during her wedding reception, she suffered a ghastly fate.

She was playing a game of hide and seek with her husband and guests when she hid somewhere. The party searched and searched, but she was not found.

Fifty years later her skeletal remains were discovered in a large wooden chest. She was clothed in her bridal gown, and she still held a sprig of mistletoe in her hand.

She had apparently climbed in the chest to hide and the spring lock had snapped shut, entombing her for 50 years.

This chest is Italian and was brought to England and then Bramshill by the fifth Baronet Cope--his family-owned Branshill mansion from 1699 until 1935.

When the chest was imported so was Genevre's ghost. Today this mistletoe-bough chest is displayed in the Bramshill reception hall.


Ginevra's ghost has been seen wandering the mansion for several hundred years. She is described as “sad-faced.” She is often seen in the Long Gallery, the Fleur de Lys room, and the area near the chest.

In the 1930s young Joan Penelope Cope and her brother often woke to find the White Lady by their bedside.

The family of King Michael of Romania, which stayed at Bramshill from 1950-52, felt the presence of the White Lady. The King’s wife saw Gen sitting in the King’s room. They had an exorcism performed but it had no effect--for the White Lady is still present.

In the fall of 1986 a police officer from India, undergoing training at Bramshill was passing through the large chapel drawing-room when he encountered something he found odd.

In one specific area of the room, he smelled a pleasing soft fragrance. When he stepped out of this area, the fragrance disappeared. When he entered the same area by two cushioned chairs, he smelled the floral scent once more.

Curious he walked around the room to see if he could smell the scent in other parts of the room--he couldn’t.

He was amazed that the strong scent was in only one small area of the room. When he passed by the cushioned chairs in the following days, the smell seemed to follow him out of the room.

When he questioned the Chief Superintendent of the college this man told him the story of the White Lady. As he listened the hair on the back of his neck stood up--he realized that he had encountered a ghost.

The Chief joked that Ginvera’s ghost must like him because in recent years she had rarely made appearances.

I share more information about this classic ghost story--told in films and a famous poem--known as The Mistletoe Bride. In my post entitled A Deadly Game of Hide and Seek.

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