WEIRD NORFOLK: A ghost riding a horse that guards the ley of the land at Kirby Bedon at next-door churches
PUBLISHED: 18:00 02 May 2020
At the meeting point of two links in one of Norfolk’s ancient ley lines there is a ghostly rider – the White Lady of Kirby Bedon.
Two churches stand side by side in the village of Kirby Bedon, one a ruin, the other standing, both haunted by the same ghost, a white lady riding a white horse.
In 1921, amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins made a discovery: he realised that if you looked at ancient sites around the world, most fell into a kind of alignment. Whether man-made or naturally-formed, he noted that most fell into a pattern which was normally a simple straight line. He called these lines “leys” and then “ley lines”. Some people believe that the ley lines that cross the world carry along with them charges of supernatural energy and when they intersect, the concentrated energy can be harnessed. Others believe the concept to be entirely bogus and a matter of coincidence not purpose – but the theory persists.
In an edition of Weird Norfolk’s favourite retro periodical, Lantern, produced by the Lowestoft-based Borderline Science Investigation Group, a ley line is identified which begins in St Mary’s Church in Rockland St Mary, between two buttresses on the north-west side and then travels to St Peter’s Church in Bramerton, where it passes through the nave and tower of the 13th century building. It then runs to St Mary’s Church in Kirby Bedon, now a ruin, before crossing the road just a few feet to St Andrew’s Church “Both the latter church and this Norman edifice with its square tower form points on other local leys and the churchyards of both are haunted,” reads Lantern.
In The East Anglian Handbook of 1885, a story is told of “…a very tall woman in white, mounted on a white horse, who rides slowly first around one churchyard and then the other.” Weird Norfolk has previously told the story of White Woman Lane in Old Catton named after its own white lady ghost. In paranormal circles, the White Lady is a famous example of a type of female ghost, typically dressed in a white dress or a similar piece of clothing and often spotted in rural areas – or once rural areas – and associated with tragic local legends. Such White Ladies are found across the world, often linked to an accidental death, murder or suicide and the theme of loss, betrayal or unrequited love.
An old medieval legend persists that the White Lady ghosts will appear in houses in which a family member is soon to die, or what she will appear in photographs of people just before or after they die. White horses in myths or legends are often associated with warriors, fertility or the paranormal and revered as sacred animals - they are often ridden by handsome princes or white knights in children’s fairytales. In Norse mythology, however, the white horse is a portent of death.
No story exists as to who Kirby Bedon’s white lady guards the two churches, but perhaps there is a clue in St Andrew’s, where two lovely medieval shroud brasses are set into the nave floor, where the bodies of William Dussyng and his wife lie. They are shown wearing their winding sheets, the shrouds they would have been buried in which quickly became the way mischief-makers frightened people, by draping themselves in sheets to give the appearance of having just crawled out of a grave. It used to be said that if you saw a vision of someone you knew wearing a winding sheet, their untimely death – or yours – would follow.
Perhaps this is why there have been no recent reports of the White Lady - because the witness didn’t live to tell the story…
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