born 1744, died 1775, daughter of Charles Tottenham and Anne Loftus, grand-daughter of Tottenham in his Boots.
The story was told to Queen Victoria, shortly before Prince Albert's death, by the wife of the 3rd Marquess of Ely, who was a Lady of H.M.'s Bedchamber, and whose maiden name was Jane Hope-Vere. The Queen remarked that she did not believe in such things, but desired that it should not be mentioned before the Prince, because he did.
A full account appeared in "The Whitehall Review" of Sept. 28th, 1882, a copy of which was lent to me by Miss Merle Tottenham. The writer of this account was the Rev. George Reade, who was appointed to a living by Lord Robert Tottenham, when he was Bishop of Clogher, and was apparently known to the Bishop's son, the Rev. Robert Tottenham, who was great-grandfather of Merle. An abridged version of Reade's account appears in "True Irish Ghost Stories", by Seymour and Neligan (2nd edition, 1926, pp. 265-76), published by Hodges and Figgis, Dublin.
Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford (but see Note below), which is described as "an old rambling mansion, with passages that led nowhere, large dreary rooms, panelled walls, and a Tapestry Chamber". It was built on a limestone promontory "stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean" by one de Raymond, a follower of Strongbow, who settled there. After the Rebellion of 1641 it was forfeited and became the property of the Loftus family. "A wild and lonely place".
TIME. Sometime between 1770, when Charles Tottenham married his second wife, Jane Cliffe, and 1775, when Anne died.
One wet and stormy night there was a knocking at the outer gate. A young gentleman on horseback had lost his way and was seeking shelter. He proved himself "an agreeable companion and a finished gentleman". Anne fell in love with him, but her parents did not approve. He, too, loved - but rode away. Anne lost her reason and had to be confined in the Tapestry Chamber, where she eventually died. [The Rev. Robert Tottenham recorded many years later that he had been told by a member of the Ely family that a skeleton had been found behind a closet in this chamber when it was being rebuilt]. After Anne's death the old people "were distressed by frequent noises and apparitions", and finally they called in "their Parish Priest, Father Broders", who succeeded "by the exorcisms of the Church in confining the operations of the evil spirit to the one Tapestry Chamber".
During the charming visitor's stay the old couple and the stranger, with Anne as his partner, played whist in the evenings. The two young people invariably won. One night Anne dropped her ring and, on stooping to pick it up under the table, she "was terrified to see that her agreeable partner had an unmistakably cloven foot". At her screams the stranger "vanished in a thunderclap, leaving a brimstone smell behind".
1. The father of the Rev. George Reade stayed with a large party at the Hall some time about 1790, and was given the Tapestry Chamber to sleep in. "Something heavy leapt upon his bed, growling like a dog. The curtains were torn back and the clothes stripped from the bed". Suspecting that "some of his companions were playing tricks", he shouted to warn them and then fired his pistol up the chimney to frighten them. He then searched the room and, of course, found nothing. The door was locked as he had left it on getting into bed.
2. Some years later, when the 2nd Marquess of Ely (who succeeded in 1806) was at the Hall, his valet, Shannon, was put in the Tapestry Chamber and woke the whole household by his screams in the night. The curtains of the bed, he said, had been violently torn back and he saw "a tall lady dressed in stiff brocaded silk". He fled in terror.
3 After a further period George Reade and his father were staying at the Hall. George knew nothing of his father's earlier experience, and chose the Tapestry Chamber as his bedroom. One bright moonlight night he sat up late reading an article in Blackwood's Magazine, when he saw the door open and a tall lady in a stiff dress passed noiselessly through the room to a closet in the comer, where she disappeared. For some reason the idea of a ghost never entered his head, and he went to sleep.
The next night the experience was repeated. He rushed towards the lady, threw his right arm round her, and exclaimed "Ha! I have you now". His arm passed through her and came "with a thud against the bed-post". The figure went on, and her silk brocaded gown "lapped against the curtain". Next morning he told his father, who said nothing; and the whole incident left little impression on him. He slept in the room without disturbance "many a night after". Some years later George Reade was again at the Hall, and heard the valet, Shannon, tell the housekeeper that "he would sooner leave his Lordship's service than sleep in the Tapestry Chamber". Reade asked him why; and Shannon then told him the story of Anne, which he had never heard before.
4. In 1858 the 4th Marquess, who succeeded in 1857 at the age of 8, came to the Hall for the bathing season, with his mother (the Lady of the Bedchamber) and his tutor, the Rev. Charles Dale. The tutor was put in the Tapestry Chamber and came down to breakfast one morning in an obviously nervous state, but refused to say anything. In the autumn Lord Henry Loftus, uncle of the Marquess, wrote to George Reade, told him about Charles Dale, and added that a Mr. Derringey had slept in the room and had had "a splendidly fitted dressing case" ransacked during the night. He asked him what his own experience had been. Thereupon Reade wrote to Dale, then in a parish in Kent, and the latter wrote back a long letter, in which he said that he had slept in the Tapestry Chamber for three weeks without disturbance - and without knowing anything about Anne Tottenham. Then one moonlight night he had had the same experience as Reade's father - something heavy jumping on the bed, growling, and tearing off the bedclothes. He leapt out of bed, lighted a candle, but could find nothing. He had, however, made inquiries and had talked with an old woman called Haggard, who lived to the age of 106. She had told him the whole story, and remembered Father Broders referred to above.
5. Finally, in 1868, Reade once more visited the Hall, which had been considerably altered. The Tapestry Chamber was now a billiards-room. He asked the old housekeeper how Miss Anne Tottenham had taken these changes, and she replied “Oh! Master George, don't talk about her. Last night she made a horrid noise knocking the billiard balls about!”
Reade's account represents Anne throughout as the poor, ill-used victim of an austere and hard-hearted father and a storybook stepmother. No evidence in support of this view is forthcoming; and one may suspect that Reade, whose account of his own experiences seems curiously unconvincing, was carried away by his desire to make a good story of it. But that, perhaps, is the feeling of one who is inclined to agree with Queen Victoria.
I am told that there is a tradition in Taghmon that the whole affair took place at Tottenham Green, and not at Loftus Hall. The main features of the story are the same, except that the Devil (who according to one version took the disguise of a King's Messenger) made his escape through a dormer window, which at that time happened to lack a roof. It is further said that successive Tottenhams refused to have a roof put on that window, so that the Devil could come and go as he wished.
James Cullen, who bought the place in 1913 - see App. V - repaired this omission without suffering any ill-effects. It may not be altogether clear why Charles Tottenham and his second wife and daughter should have been living at Loftus Hall; but it is quite certain that he never lived at Tottenham Green, which always belonged to the senior branch. It was not until some years after Anne's death that Charles, the 1st Marquess, son of John, the elder brother, succeeded to the Loftus Estates; and until then there is no doubt that John lived at Tottenham Green - where there is a memorial to him and Elizabeth Loftus in the local church (Horetown). In spite of Reade's possible "embroideries", the rest of his story is so circumstantial that I think it must hold the field.
The alternative would be to suppose that Charles and his family were on a visit to Tottenham Green, that the young couple were caught making love, and that the young man's mysterious escape through the dormer window gave rise to stories of the supernatural. But that would be just guesswork.
Father Thomas Broaders was called upon to exorcise the disturbing evil spirit. Fr. Broaders later became parish priest of the united parishes of the Hook and Ramsgrange for almost fifty years.
Canon Broaders died in January, 1773, and on his tomb in Horetown Cemetery is the following epitaph;
The Loftus Hall in which the ghostly happenings occurred was levelled to the ground in 1871 and the present mansion was erected in its place.