While enjoying the myriad delights of my folks’ hostelry I happened across a book I’d bought many years ago: Supernatural Clwyd, by Richard Holland. I can’t remember exactly where it came into my possession, but the Holmesian workings of my mind tell me that it must have been during a family holiday in North Wales. Strangely, an aerodrome pops into my mind, but the memory stops there, I’m afraid. Anyway, with time on my hands, I perused its pages and among many other fascinating tales I came across the interesting story of the town of Marford, in north-east Wales. I reproduce the story below for your enjoyment.
A Tapping at the Glass
If you have ever visited the village of Marford in Wrexham Maelor you will have been immediately struck by the peculiar architecture of the majority of the houses. The village was largely rebuilt in the early years of the last century by the Trevor family of Trevalyn Hall, and the houses were all built to a unique design, a design which incorporated the adornment of every house with a cross. Everywhere one looks in Marford one is faced with crucifixes. Crosses are set in at least one wall of every house, and some have crucifix-shaped windows. And they are all there for a purpose—they are there to keep at bay the wandering ghost of Lady Blackbird.
In September 1713, Madam Margaret Blackbourne of Rofft Hall, now replaced by what is called Roft Castle, was murdered by her husband, George Blackbourne, the Steward of Marford and Hosely. George Blackbourne was a drunkard and a womaniser. One night, of many nights, he returned home late, the worse for drink, and his tearful wife stood at the top of the stairs and demanded to know with whom he had been and whether he had been unfaithful to her. There was a furious row, and then a scream was heard, then a loud thump. Then silence. The servants were too in fear of their master to investigate, and they stayed in their beds. The following morning, the body of Margaret Blackbourne was found, its neck broken, slumped at the foot of the staircase. The magistrates turned a blind eye to the incident, and a verdict of misadventure was brought by the coroner. Six months later George Blackbourne found himself a young wife.
But he was to receive no peace with his new bride. From the night of his nuptial, the corpse of his murdered wife shifted uneasily in its tomb and then clawed its way out and stalked off to Rofft Hall. Every night, Margaret’s body would walk through Marford to plague her husband and his young bride. The villagers would always know when she was passing, for she would stop at each house and would tap pathetically at the glass. Her pale face would peer through with dead eyes, her hair awry. Then she would proceed to roam the corridors of her former home, moaning horribly.
George moved to Trevalyn Hall at nearby Rossett, but his dead wife followed him there, too. Eventually, an archdeacon was called in to lay the spirit, but he was only partly successful. Although Margaret’s corpse was at last laid to rest, it seems her spirit continued to see her face at their windows, to have heard the tapping at the glass.
The story of poor Margaret Blackbourne has passed into legend, and her history is largely forgotten. Her name has been corrupted, so that she is now known as Lady Blackbird, the Ghost of Marford.