I was recently reading William Westons book ‘The autobiography of an Elizabethan’ which tells the story of his time as a fugitive Priest in England. I particularly noticed that Weston was a firm believer in what we would now call the ‘occult’. His descriptions of exorcisms and ghostly happenings reveal a belief, common in Tudor times, that the worlds of the spiritual mixed freely with that of mankind.
A room full of devils
Weston described an experience he had in 1588 when he was called to attend upon a dying man. When he tried to hear his confession the man cried that this would be impossible. When pressed the man admitted that he was eternally condemned to the Devil, Weston argued but was told;
“Can’t you see… the room is full of devils? Yes, here where we are. They’re in every nook and cranny. In the ceiling, in the walls. A thousand. More. Terrible black devils, with fearful faces. They mutter and terrify me. They go on and on. They’re savagely cruel”
Having spent many years working in Hospitals I know that it is quite common for people to see this sort of vision when they are unwell. Nowadays we know that there are many medical conditions in which the sufferer can experience such visions. Of course, in the Tudor period, such symptoms would be seen as clear proof of spiritual activity.
Quite a good ghost story
Today, people are likely to be more skeptical, although I did recently hear quite a good ghost story – from a fellow disbeliever. I won’t say where I heard this, suffice it to say it was someone in an historic house, somewhere in England. This person, a guide to the house was showing a group around. In one room he was telling them about how the room was used in the past. One small girl in the party kept trying to interrupt and eventually he asked her what was the matter.
“Why don’t you listen to that man who is standing next to you?” she said, “What man” he replied, as he could see no-one standing next to him.
Pointing to his side she replied;
“That man – the one dressed in grey, the one who keeps pulling on your arm and is trying to tell you that you are getting things wrong!”
As I said, I am a disbeliever ( I think) but sometimes – I wonder, what do you think?
A ghost at Hampton Court?
Whilst on the subject of ghosts I thought it might be worth a look at some film taken at Hampton Court. The papers picked up on this story and labelled this the ghost of Henry VIII. If anything, to me this looked like a lady in Tudor dress, again – see what you think, we would love to hear your opinions on this & don’t forget to have a go at the poll below.