Friday, 28 August 2009

The Tale of a 'Haunted Bed'....

The property which currently houses Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery - formerly known as Rowley House Museum - is situated in the picturesque county of Shropshire. The building itself – initially a warehouse - was constructed in wood during the late 16th / early 17th Century by one William Rowley, a local brewer and draper. Around 1618, an adjoining, section was erected in brick by Willams son. It is claimed by some that the site was possibly the first brick built house erected in Shrewsbury…..

It is also claimed that the property is haunted (of course!)…. however, as with a lot of ‘legendary’ hauntings, details and, subsequently, theories surrounding such matters, are invariably convoluted….

It is widely accepted that two, seemingly separate ghosts haunt Rowleys Mansion (as it’s known locally); those of a man and a woman, allegedly seen in period costume of the same age. Some references suggest that the man is young in appearance, though, lacking any real, first-hand descriptions of the ghost concerned, such details can only be catalogued as ‘vague’ at best…. One source states that the male figure is regarded as having been an otherworldly ‘resident’ of the property for many years before the female figure was ever seen – experiences with the figure supposedly being reported by occupants of the property while it was still a private residence. Having said that, of course, others have suggested that there may well be some form of association between the two apparitions…?

Of great interest to the would be researcher and chronicler of ghost-lore is the fact that the Lady ghost – and we do mean ‘Lady’ here, as she has been named as one ‘Lady Jane Corbet’ – is directly associated with the splendid, four poster bed at the top of this post. (Pic taken yesterday - Aug. 27th!) The bed itself - dated 1593 – is made of walnut, holly and bog oak and carved with the initials R.C. and the ravens of the Corbet crest. The apparition of the woman has allegedly been reported ‘on’ the bed, legend dictating that this was where she died in childbirth. A remarkable aspect of this haunting is the supposed ‘fact’ that the ghost has seemingly travelled with the bed and has been seen wherever this lavish piece of furniture has been housed! Her ghost has also said to have been reported at the house from which the bed was originally taken. (The piece was loaned to Rowleys House during the 1980’s by the Victoria and Albert Museum, but, prior to this period, is recorded as having 'travelled quite extensively' throughout it's lifetime!!!).

Whatever the true provenance of these two apparitions – if, indeed, they do exist, of course – it is an intriguing detail to note that it is invariably stated that the male figure has never been seen to interact with the female – leading to a somewhat romantic debate by some over the prospects of some form of ‘lovers quarrel’ between the two…? This is a perplexing detail indeed, given the suggestion by many that the male ghost is that of Lord Corbet, husband to Lady Jane!?

Of course, from a more objective point of view - based on the former allegedly being reported before the seeming arrival of the latter – is perhaps a sign that these figures are (in death, as in life), completely unrelated and, therefore, utterly oblivious to one each others existence?

At the end of all of the above rumination, it has to be said that - despite a somewhat ‘creaky’ foundation to these stories - the aforementioned is indeed a truly endearing ‘legend’. Such detail has kept W.M.G.C. members captivated, perplexed and brimming with debate since our first visit to the site some 17 or so years ago.... It has also, invariably, assured a keen return to the site ever since, whenever we might happen to be in the area.

Best wishes to all,

The W.M.G.C.


kitty kat said...


Evelyn said...

Very interesting. I am currently working on West Midlands counties castles, abbeys and manor houses on my Live Spaces blog and I last finished one specifically on the tiny county of West Midlands. You can see that at
I will cover Shropshire next and I was doing research on this Shrewsbury House today. Thanks for the pic of the room. I stay away from most of the references to ghosts in my entry or often take a very lighthanded approach. I don't believe in the spirits of dead people roaming the earth in particular. There's no denying something goes on in these places, however, I will say that much.
I also have a blogspot blog which you can check out.
Enjoy !