Tragic true story behind house’s famous phantom
Rumoured to roam the halls and corridors of Temple Newsam House, the restless spirit of The Blue Lady has been one of Leeds’s most spine-tingling tales for generations.
But with hundreds of little ghost hunters set to visit for this week's Halloween spectacular, experts at the house are keen to shed new light on the tragic truth behind the mansion’s most celebrated spectre.
The Blue Lady is one of a number of spooky stories which will feature in the house’s hugely popular annual event, which takes place on the evening of October 31.
Said to be the ghost of young Mary Ingram, who lived at the house in the late 17th Century, her eye-catching portrait still hangs in the house’s lavish Gothick room.
At the age of just 14, Mary was returning from a party when her carriage was ambushed by a gang of ruthless highwaymen near Garforth.
Taking all her possessions, the robbers ripped away her favourite necklace, a christening present from her grandfather Sir Arthur, leaving Mary utterly distraught.
Arriving back at Temple Newsam having escaped on foot, Mary is said to have collapsed and woken the next day with no memory of the theft, instead convinced that she had lost the precious necklace.
Searching throughout the house, she did everything from unpicking cushions to lifting up floorboards in an effort to be reunited with the lost trinket, becoming so obsessed with finding it that she refused to eat or drink.
Sadly, just two weeks later, she died but for centuries now, her unhappy spirit is said to have continued to wander the house, forever looking for her missing jewelry.
In that time, members of staff and eye witnesses have reported hearing unexplained creaking noises, experiencing sudden, unexplained drops in temperature and seeing carpets ripple.
Bobbie Robertson, keeper at Temple Newsam House, said: “Stories of ghosts haunting the house have endured for centuries and there have certainly been a few unexplained incidents over the years, which at this time of year take on an added significance.
“The house is an amazingly atmospheric place at Halloween, but for us, these stories are mainly just another way of connecting visitors with the many people who have lived here through the years and who have played a part in making Temple Newsam the place it is today.”
Temple Newsam’s spooky spectacular takes place on Halloween night from 5pm until 8pm, with last admission at 7.15pm.
Visitors can take a rare opportunity to explore the darkened house and farm and try some spooky crafts, with fancy dress encouraged.
Numbers are limited, so booking is advisable. Tickets are priced at £25 for a family, £10 adults and £5 children.
And on November 1 at 12pm, curator Leila Prescott will take a look at the history of Halloween, where trick-or-treating comes from and why we dress up as witches, ghosts and skeletons at the end of October.
A huge programme of Halloween activities will be available at museums and galleries sites across Leeds over the half term, including Lotherton, Kirkstall Abbey and Leeds Discovery Centre.
For a full list of activities, please visit: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/about-us/more-than-a-million