Wednesday, November 4, 2015

An Odd Request

This story about a Grinning Skull in Yorkshire, England has been told for over a century.

Burton Agnes Hall
At one time a young lady by the name of Anne Griffin lived in Burton Agnes Hall.

While walking home one day she took pity on two beggars that sat along side the road. She opened her purse to give them some money but one of the men noticing the diamond ring on her finger demanded she give him her jewelry.

When Anne refused the beggar grabbed her, beat her with a club and the two then ran off with her diamond ring.

Anne severely wounded managed to crawl close to the manor's main gate. Later a servant found her. She died of her wounds several hours later.

Just before she died she shocked her family with her last request. She told them that they should remove her head and keep it in the hall—she warned if they did not do this, terrible things would befall the house. *

Her sisters uncomfortable with this request ignored her wish and buried her the next day in a nearby church graveyard.

That evening loud wailing noises and slamming doors kept the family awake all night. These disturbing noises continued until the family exhumed Anne’s body a week later.

When they opened her cask they found her skull was “grinning” and already detached from the rest of the body. They removed it and placed it in the hall. The loud noises stopped after this—that is until a family maid who didn't believe the story took matters into her own hands.

She took Anne’s skull out of its box, wrapped in a cloth and placed in on a cart that contained rubbish. The horses that pulled this cart then refused to move. They trembled in fear and reared up.

The hall began to shake and pictures fall off the walls. The family wisely retrieved the skull and placed it back in the house.

They then had it bricked up behind a wall so that it would remain untouched.

One legend states that this skull was placed behind a wall that displays Anne’s portrait, which hangs above the home’s main staircase.

It is said each year on the anniversary of Anne’s death her ghost is seen emerging from this portrait. It floats down the staircase and through the hall. It then disappears down the lane behind the house.

Anne's spirit is known as Owd Nance.

*  In another version of this legend it is stated that the manor house was not complete at the time of Anne's death. This version states Anne's last wish was to have her skull remain in the hall so she could see the house completed.

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