Showing posts with label bride. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bride. Show all posts

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Deadly Game of Hide and Seek

This classic ghost story has been immortalized in film, short stories, and in a famous song and poem.

It is known under various names. The Lost Bride, Bride and Go Seek and in England as The Mistletoe Bough or The Mistletoe Bride.

This story was first published in 1809 in Germany in an article entitled The Melancholy Occurrence, which tells the tale of a bride who goes missing on her wedding day.

Samuel Rogers’ poem entitled Ginevra, published in 1823, also tells the moving story of how a bride disappears on her wedding day only to be found years later.

“Full fifty years were past, and all was forgot . . .
The mouldering chest was noticed . . .
‘Why not remove it from its lurking place . . .’
It burst, it fell; and lo, a skeleton . . .”

The full text of this poem can be found here.

Roger’s poem inspired Thomas Bayly to write the lyrics for a ballad song entitled, The Mistletoe Bough, music composed by Sir Henry Bishop, in the 1830s. Here is a part of this song.

“They sought her that night, and they sought her next day,
And they sought her in vain while a week passed away . . .
At length, an old chest, that had long lain hid,
Was found in the castle—
They raised the lid,
And a skeleton form lay mouldering there
In the bridal wreath of that lady fair!”

The entire song lyrics can be read here. A popular version of this ballad is shared below.

By 1859, this song in England was so beloved it was shared in most households at Christmastime. Many knew the heart-wrenching lyrics “by heart.”

This story was retold in two short stories: The Old Oak Chest by Susan E. Wallace in 1887 and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes by Henry James in 1868.

The story was also made into a silent film in 1904 by Percy Stow; this short film has since been restored and is below. Two other movies based upon this story were made in 1923 and 1926.

Percy Stow film
This story has been told for over 2 centuries now. Various versions of this myth have circulated in America. A simplified version was retold in the early 1970s.

Alfred Hitchcock produced his own version of this story in 1948 in his film entitled Rope. In his film the main character, Brandon Shaw hides the body of a murdered son in a chest.

However, most versions of this story are similar so here is the English version -- The Mistletoe Bough.

A young bride was married to Lord Lovell at Christmastime. After the ceremony, she suggested they play a game of Hide and Seek, which the younger members of the wedding party could enjoy as well.

The young bride was picked as the first person to hide. No one suspected as she went off this would be the last they would see of her.

Her husband, father and the wedding guests searched and searched, but she was not found. The wedding guests eventually had to leave, many assured the family as they parted that surely the bride must have just fallen asleep in her hiding place.

The groom, father and the servants continued to search late into the night and the next day but their efforts were unrewarded for the young bride was not found.

The days turned to weeks and the weeks turned to months then years, but the bride’s disappearance remained a mystery. Lord Lovell grew old, and the story was now legendary.

The family home was eventually sold, and several years later the home’s attic was emptied. Amongst the old paintings and furniture, there was an old oak chest that appeared to be locked.

The lid was pried open and inside was a skeleton dressed in a wedding gown-- it was holding a withered wedding bouquet. At last, the bride was found.

Chest opened.

Bramshill House
Many stately homes * in England over the years have claimed to be the location for this chest. They include: Bramshill House and Marwell House both in Hampshire. Castle Horneck in Cornwall, Basildon Grotto in Berskhire, Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, Exton Hall in Rutland, Brockdish Hall in Norfolk and Bawdrip Rectory in Somerset.

* Some of these homes lay in ruins today.

A number of these homes also lay claim to the ghost of the unfortunate bride that is said to haunt their grounds. She is seen wearing her wedding gown.

Here is a recording of the song, The Mistletoe Bough.

The following is the restored silent version of the 1904 film version of this story. It is short.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Kentucky’s Cumberland Falls

Cumberland Falls from one
overlook. Click to enlarge.
This waterfall located in the Daniel Boone Forest in Cumberland State Park is located in eastern Kentucky near Corbin.

The Cumberland waterfall is known as “the Niagara of the South” because it is the second largest fall in North America—it is 125 feet wide and drops over 60 feet to the gorge below.

A tragic accident that occurred in the 1950s at this waterfall has resulted in a popular ghost story.

Newlyweds honeymooning at this state park were so eager to see the sights that right after they checked into their cabin in the early evening they decided to explore the park.

Their wedding had been that afternoon and without changing their wedding attire they went for a walk.

They stopped at a point near the Pillars that overlooks the Cumberland Falls. The groom decided to take a photo of his bride with the spectacular view of the falls in the background.

He posed her on the edge of a cliff with an 80-foot drop. In her excitement she danced around but she got too close to the edge and then slipped and fell to her death. It is said the swiftly moving waters of the Cumberland Falls then carried her body away.

Ever since this tragic accident the spot where she fell has been known as Lovers’ Leap.

Lovers' Leap
Click to enlarge.
It is here near the cliff where she fell and other nearby locations where numerous witnesses have claimed to see this bride’s ghost for over 70 years.

She died still wearing her wedding dress and sightings of her ghost all describe her wearing this long white gown.

The most alarming appearances she makes are in the middle of the road on a curve just before one reaches the spot where she fell. Motorists who have experienced this state she ran in front of their cars and then they hit her only to find when they exited their cars she was nowhere to be found.

She is also seen standing on a bridge near this location.

A moonbow
It is said that her ghost also manifests on the “nights of the moonbow.” A moonbow is like a rainbow but it occurs at night during a full moon. This moonlight refracts off the water at Cumberland as the water falls through the air it then causes this phenomenon.

Tourists often gather to see this beautiful soft light. But during some of these full moons these witnesses have also seen a young woman dressed in a long white dress fall—then this figure is said to rise up out of the waters.

Some state they saw this floating figure motioning for them to come closer.

Click to enlarge.
Many families, attracted by this classic ghost story have visited the park during full moons.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

San Francisco’s Angel Island

The largest island in San Francisco’s Bay is Angel Island. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Japanese and Indian immigrants from Asia were processed at the Angel Island Immigration Station from 1910 until the early 1940s.

Angel Island is called “the Ellis Island of the West.” But unlike immigrants that were greeted by the welcome sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York and then most often processed within 2 to 3 hours the immigrants held on Angel Island were treated as prisoners and sent the message “Stay away. We don’t want you.” *

The reason for this began in the years following the California Gold Rush when the demand for railroad labor spiked-- a huge number of Chinese immigrated to the U.S. to fill this need. But soon native-born Americans spurred by racism and fear started to resent the competition for jobs these immigrants posed. This anti-Chinese movement was agitated further by newspaper articles and by state and federal politicians.

As a result Congress passed the “Chinese Exclusion Law” in 1882, which prohibited more Chinese laborers from entering California. That same year 40,000 Chinese immigrants entered the United States in order to beat this ban before it took effect in 1883. This law was finally repealed in 1943 after 60 years of exclusion. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that Chinese immigration came close to the numbers before 1883.

Before the Angel Island Station opened in 1910 detained immigrants were held in cramped facilities along San Francisco’s wharf, even worse some were held in “floating prisons” on various merchant ships that were docked close to shore.

The Angel Island facility was supposed to be an improvement but conditions on the island were almost as bad. The new facility “was found to be a fire trap, with poor ventilation, terrible bathrooms and a lack of fresh water.” The food was worse. Graft took over and money for this purpose was skimmed off the top.

The Immigrants were kept for months on end in barracks that housed triple bunk beds. They were put through rigorous interrogations, which included denial of entry  or long delays if various family members answers differed even slightly. Despite this many of the immigrants on Angel Island eventually were able to stay.

Many of these immigrants embarrassed and “shamed” by this treatment did not discuss their experience while on the island afterward--even with their families-- so for awhile this history was lost. This was compounded by the fact that the Angel Island administration building burnt down in 1940 destroying all the records. 

Many immigrants wrote poems
on the Station's walls
expressing their feelings.
The Chinese who would talk about their experiences while being held at the Angel Island Station often mentioned that the two worst things about their stay were “the ghosts and the starving.”

Shortly after the Station first opened a young Chinese bride-to-be was told after her interrogation that she was not going to be allowed to enter the U.S. She was told she was going to be sent back to China. She then returned to her dormitory were she put on her wedding dress. In despair, she entered the woman’s shower room and hung herself with a “twisted bed sheet.”

Many female immigrants that stayed in this dorm in the following years claimed that it was evident that her spirit never left this shower room. These Chinese woman reported feeling her presence in this area on a regular basis.

In this bathroom the lights would flicker and it was felt this was proof this young brides’ ghost remained. One witness, years later reported that she and others were afraid to enter this bathroom alone and that they always would bathe with others and never alone.

Another witness had a direct encounter with this ghost when she was detained at Angel Island. She was 16 years-old at the time and was waiting to be admitted to America where her Chinese-American fiancé lived.

One night as she lay in her bunk trying to fall asleep, an unseen force attacked her. She stated she felt “an intense pressure on her chest.” She said because of this pressure she had trouble breathing. She managed to look around and realized the room was quiet and everyone was sleeping.

She tried to scream but the pressure on her chest intensified and she felt a great deal of pain. She was only able to stop the pressure when she managed to say a prayer out loud. 

Today Angel Island is a California State Park. It is a popular spot for people to camp, hike and bike. Access to the island is by ferry--either from San Francisco or Tiburon--or private boat. What remains of the old Angel Island Immigration Station can be seen after an 11 mile plus hike from Ayala Cove. Tours are given. 

The yellow painted barracks are still perched atop a bluff. The old white Station hospital underwent renovations this year.

* An example of this--one female Chinese immigrant was detained on the island for more than 600 days. At first they did not believe she had a husband already living in the U.S. She was finally released. In contrast, the European immigrants that passed through Angel Island were processed quickly. The Station was dubbed, Guardian of the Western Gate-- its purpose was to keep the Chinese out.

Here is a video about the Angel Island poetry.