Posts Tagged ‘horses’

This fine place at Comberbach, Cheshire was unfortunately demolished which is a great shame as it was a historically interesting place that once housed valuable art treasures. Living residents and visitors offer up tale and there are some photo’s of the building, which also had some ghostly tales to offer. The hall was once in Marbury Park and research projects continue to ensure that the building was gone is not forgotten.

As late as the 1930’s reports still spoke about an old oak chest with a skeleton kept inside it. A mundane reason might be it was a medical or art students possession but rumours for these macabre items often occur and this has gained one such tale.

At some point in the past one of the owners of the Barrymore family went to Egypt and an Egyptian women fell in love with him. She was obsessed and followed him back to Cheshire, and refused to go home. He had, however, married his English sweetheart, the woman was installed at Marbury as his mistress and she loved the house. She said that when she died her body must remain at the home and she did not want to be buried at the church. She died, or was murdered, and the request was ignored, she was given the usual funerary customs.

Not long after her ghost was seen riding on a white horse, bells rang mysteriously and to stop the strange events her body was exhumed and brought to the house. Later generations tried to remove her to a family vault and others tried to get rid of her by throwing the chest into Budworth Mere, but mysterious happenings would being her back again. In the 1930’s she went missing one last time, some say she was buried in the church at midnight and others that she was walled up into the house.

As the house is now demolished I would hope if there is a truth to this that the churchyard tale is the real one, but it seems this legend and another have been crossed over thanks to the white horse. Supposedly Lord Barrymore wagered the hall that a mare he purchased could go from London to Marbury in a day. He wanted the mare there for a wedding present for his wife and the horse did the gallop. The mare dropped dead after a drink from the trough and was buried in the park.

Lady Barrymore was so upset that she died of a broken heart not long after, she wanted to be buried near the horse but again her requests fell on deaf ears. She now cannot rest and her and the horse ride around the park and are seen now and then.

Pretty much everything I can find out about this seems anecdotal, made harder to look into now that the hall is gone. It also seems that as with many of these types the legends have crossed over and changed. Either way I hope you liked the read.

This is also know as the Crescent Park Carousel, and now I have to make a confession that I am always fascinated by these fantastical mechanical rides! So what could be more enticing than a haunted one? The hand-carved carousel was built in 1895 by Charles I D Looff at the amusement park, Riverside in Rhode Island. It has a fifty foot platform with sixty one horses, one camel and two single coaches, along with two double coaches. Fifty six of the sixty one horses are jumpers.

 Looff was originally from Denmark but his career was based in the USA, of nearly 50 of the magnificent rides the Crescent Park one is one of the few still in operation. In 1977 the park closed but was spared the auction block thanks to local protest, it is restored and operates each summer, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

 The ride starts when a brass fog bell is rung, the ride is measured by the help of a small hourglass affixed to a snare drum cabinet for the band organ. The riders can play the ring game by grabbing a brass ring as they pass in order to win a free ride. After catching the brass ring they must throw it through the cut-out mouth of a clown painted on canvas. It was originally operated by steam but has been modernised with an electric motor.

In the 1960’s a ballroom adjacent to this magnificent piece burned down resulting in several deaths. It’s said that those people who died still haunt the carousel and turn on the lights and music, along with other strange happenings such as a female apparition and the sounds of a phantom train.

 The carousel is over 100 years old and was once part of a larger amusement park and ballroom, now the only part left after the fire is the carousel itself. The stories of the woman report that she is seen in bell-hooped skirts walking around and that where there used to be train tracks on the bike path there have been reports of train noises and flashing lights.

 As if that wasn’t enough to entice you into Rhode Island (let alone the fantastic scenery) you can also head towards Crescent Park beach, a man murdered his wife in 1989 and buried her in the sand, now if you should sit near that area you will get a feeling of anger and feel you are freezing up because of the cold spot there.

I apologise the video organ’s bang out of tune but that’s how sad it is to think of it being left to rot. I think it would have sounded beautiful in it’s day.

Victorian Era – 1937 to 1901 and death

I haven’t gone into the cemetery stuff here, simply because I could write so much on them that
they would need their own post. I will likely cover some of them at one point or another.

The period is known as the Victorian Era for England’s Queen Victoria, she took the throne in
1837 and died January 22nd 1901. Her husband died of typhoid in 1861 and for the remainder
of her life the queen was left in mourning. She wore her black attire for three years and dressed
the entire court that way. It was a reflection of her prudish and mournful period and for myself is a
very interesting time.

The Funeral

The funeral was very important in this era, lower classes would plan ahead, and before a child
was even born they would be saving up for the funeral because mortality rates were so high. And
it’s not surprising given the cholera outbreak, previous near wipe-outs such as Black Death and
the great fire meant London had a pretty good reason to suspect a need for forward planning!

The funeral procession would have been a pretty impressive sight, led by various attendants.
Pall Bearers carried batons, feathermen, pages and mutes would be dressed in gowns and carry
wands. There were reports of disorderly conduct at times, often these men would be in the cold
for long hours and were fed gin to stay warm.

The first coach would be the hearse, a black affair with glass sides. It would be highly decorative
with silver and gold. A huge canopy of black ostrich feathers covered the hearse, inside the coffin
was polished, moulded and had expensive handles with inscribed plates. It was also possible for
the coffin to have black, purple or dark green cloth attached with brass, silver or gilt-headed nails.
The hearse was filled with flowers and six black horses with more black ostrich feather plumes on
their heads pulled the entire ensemble.

The rest of the coaches came behind the hearse, mourners were inside and it was usual for the
blinds to be drawn. Men wore full suits with crape bands around the top hat. Women wore gowns
of black crape, veils and gloves. They would have black handkerchiefs; the fans they carried were
made of black ostrich feathers and tortoiseshell handles. Jewellery would also contain jet stones.

A procession was made at walking pace from the house to the main roads leading to the
cemetery. If necessary they might take a detour to significant areas for maximum display. Once
they got out of the town they would be able to take up coaches until the cemetery gates and a
brisk trot would be employed. Once at the gates the walking pace would continue once more.

Thanks to Loudon and other architects/garden landscapers of the time, it was customary for a
chapel to be built in the centre of the cemetery. The coffin was carried in and laid on a bier, then
at the end it would be lowered to the catacombs, or to the burial site. If they were buried in the
grounds the women would leave and the men would remain to witness the internment.

A feast would be held at the deceased’s home. There might also be one with the body present
before the funeral. There would be ham, cider, ale, pies and cakes. The immediate family
and distant relatives would attend. Cards were sent to friends, business colleagues and other
acquaintances to invite them to the funeral.

Funeral Cards

These were another tradition, traditionally supplied by the undertaker. They were printed in black
and silver on white and would be embossed with traditional symbols of grief. They were mounted
on ornamental card mounts so that they could be used as reminders for the recipient to offer their
prayers. The card would contain the name and age of the deceased alongside the date and place

of burial.

Funeral Costs

Five pounds – Hearse, with one horse; mourning coach, with one horse; stout elm coffin, covered
with fine black, plate of inscription, lid ornaments, and three pairs of handles, mattress, pillow,
and a pair of side sheets; use of velvet pall, mourners’ fittings, coachmen with hat-bands and
gloves; bearers; attendant with silk hat-band.

Fifty three pounds – Hearse and four horses, two mourning coaches with fours, twenty-three
plumes of rich ostrich feathers, complete velvet covering for carriages and horses, and an
esquire’s plume of best feathers; strong elm shell, with tufted mattress, lined and ruffled with
superfine cambric, and pillow; full worked glazed cambric winding-sheet, stout outside lead coffin,
with inscription plate and solder complete; one-and-a-half-inch oak case, covered with black
or crimson velvet, set with three rows round, and lid panelled with best brass nails; stout brass
plate of inscription, richly engraved; four pairs of best brass handles and grips, lid ornaments to
correspond; use of silk velvet pall; two mutes with gowns, silk hat-bands and gloves; fourteen
men as pages, feathermen, and coachmen, with truncheons and wands, silk hat-bands; use of
mourners; fittings; and attendant with silk hat-band.

Mourning Periods and Fashions

After burial the mourning period would depend on the person’s relation to the deceased.

Directly the widow would enter the period for up to two years.
For mourning a spouse, parent or a child the period was 12 months.
For grandparents, brothers or sisters a six month period was considered acceptable.
For Uncles and Aunts it would be a two month period.

During this a widow was required to dress in black crape for the entire year, in most other
instances the relative wore black crape for approximately two thirds of the period, after the
allotted time black silk would be allowed for the remaining mourning period.

The fashion mainly applied to women, this made her an isolated figure, and socially her activities
were restricted. Initially the widow would only be expected to go to church services. Also the
mourning attire would be a display of wealth and respectability; some would also dress their
servants during this period if the head of the household was the one that had passed away.

Middle and Lower Class woman would go to great lengths to appear fashionable in their clothes,
dying them black and bleaching them out again after was a common practise. There were
rumours spread that gave the tailors greater revenue that to recycle funeral attire was very bad
luck. Hair art also developed to allow family members to keep mementos of their loved ones.

Again the fashion for mourning is very extensive and so would deserve in all honesty a post
dedicated to itself, the fabric used are either no longer in use or simply very expensive. Black
was used as a symbol of the lack of light and in turn, life. It was instantly possible to spot
someone in mourning and to recognise the loss of their loved one.

Mourning attire is associated with a deeply rooted fear of the dead, when veiled and cloaked in
black it was believed that the living were invisible to the dead. It was a Roman idea that it would
prevent the mourner from being haunted. There were other colours that could be brought into the
outfit but the trend in England was most definitely to remain in black.


Although produced for around 2000 years it reached a peak in Victorian England, it was also at
it’s height in the American Civil War. The most popular material associated with this is jet. Queen

Victoria called it “Black Amber” and is a fossilized coal, a modern substitute is glass.

By the second half of mourning other additions such as gutta-percha, gold, pinchbeck and human
hair were brought into the wardrobe. Hair art took on a life of its own, with a lock of the deceased
woven into such things as rings, bracelets, earrings, watch fobs and necklaces as an example.