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13 November 2014

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You are in: Hereford and Worcester > Places > Unexplained > Looking for Nell

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How the ghost may have looked

Looking for Nell

A ghost story involving a street in Hereford and a Royal connection. Ken Nicholls tells the tale of a family encounter with the supernatural.

Nell Gwynne - potted history

  • Charles  II born 29/5 1630.
  • Nell Gwynne born 2/2 1650.
  • Began selling oranges outside Drury Lane Theatre, Royal Playhouse opened 1663 and at about the age of fourteen became actress.
  • In 1664 Nell acted in Drydens, The Indian Emperor.
  • 1668, Nell meets Charles for the first time at Dukes House Theatre - pretty and witty Nell became the king’s mistress.
  • 1670, Nell gives birth to the King’s son, Charles, who later becomes the Duke of St Albans.
  • 1671, Nell retires from the stage and in the same year she gives birth to Charles' second son, James.
  • 1680, Nell is seriously ill and her younger son, James dies in Paris.
  • 1684, Nell’s elder son at the ripe old age of fourteen is dubbed by Charles II the Duke of St Albans.
  • 1685, Charles II died and on his death bed, the King begged his brother and successor James: “Please, do not let poor Nelly starve”.
  • Nell survived Charles only by two years - she was only aged thirty-seven when she died on 14th of November 1687 of apoplexy.

In June 1945, my mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather were walking home at ten o'clock on a Sunday summer evening, after having been to the cinema in the city of Hereford.

They decided to go down Gwynne Street, which is a narrow old road leading from the Cathedral towards the old Wye Bridge.

All the men in the group had walked on ahead a bit and my mother, who was pregnant, and my aunt and grandmother were some yards behind.

Whilst they were walking along, my mother became aware of a sort of mist in the air which seemed to float quickly past them.

It drifted along, floating slightly above the road towards the men walking up ahead.

As it moved away she heard the sound of a horse's hooves clattering and the patch of mist seemed to take the form of a man on horseback, wearing a large hat with feather in it and a flowing cape which seemed to hang slightly over the hind quarters of the horse.

My mother watched in silence as the apparition floated down the street and disappeared through a wall on the corner, near the end of the street.

Approaching the old bridge, no one said a word.

Being pregnant for the first time, she wondered if experiencing such vivid hallucinations was somehow connected with her condition.

As they came to the middle of the bridge, my grandmother tweaked my mother's arm and whispered: "I saw that as well!"

I was born in 1956 and when I was about twelve years old I remember being invited with the family and relatives to a bonfire party at my aunt's to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night.

After the firework display in the meadow at the back of the house, we all were invited back to my aunt's home.

Once indoors, being somewhat excited and curious, my cousin suddenly asked the adults if they knew any ghost stories.

My aunt then began to tell her own version of this same story, and when my aunt had finished, everyone began to talk about it.

Strangely, my mother and aunt had never discussed it, not even on the night they were together when it happened.

The adults now came to the conclusion that the women had seen the apparition and the men had not seen anything unusual during that walk home.

Gwynne Street was named after Nell Gwynne who was a mistress to King Charles II.

She was born in 1650 in a house in part of that street, once known as Pipewell Lane.

We romantically concluded that perhaps the ghost on horseback they witnessed that late summer Sunday evening was the merry-making King Charles II looking for Nell!

last updated: 16/12/2008 at 09:36
created: 06/01/2005

Have Your Say

Ever had a ghostly ecounter? We want to hear about it!

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

joe lamont
when i was biking in west woods yesterday with my m8s we heard drums sounding but we ignored them. then we sat down at a resting place when looked around and saw a black figure at the brow of the hill it was wearing a jet black robe and was about7ft-very very tall !...can any1 tell me about what these are called. also my friends always see them when they go to westwoods and aparently every1 calls them death angels .

Sandra Ybert
while driving with my husband one sunday between Alfrick and Brandsford down a country lane we had just gone over a river bridge and a few hundred yards up the road we expected the Pub to be open that we had been to before, but when we got there it looked to us as though it was a house not a pub and I said ,they must have closed up , as I turned in my seat I saw a man riding so fast towards the back of our car about 25years old he had hair tip of shoulder length a lovely long coat with large cape shoulders and the most lovely leather riding boots Iv ever seen, he was a good looking man and looked as though he was in hurry to get some where fast,he looked like a landowners son he was better dressed than we are to-day can any one in the area tell me if any thing happend about mid 1900s in that area and why he should have been going toward Bransford and why we saw the pub as a house

I once lived in a small herefordshire village called mordiford whilst taking a early morning strole in the local wood(west woods).I see this figure all in black coming towards me, as i spoke to the figure(ghost)it just disapeared into thin air.

harry tippins
an evil looking apparition beckoned to me on the bridge parapet and i was too frightened to pass it. i was on my way home in tenbury wells

when my parents were first married they lived in a terraced house in jerusalem walk, kidderminster, now demolished. one night mum woke to see a man staring at her from just inside the spare room as both doorways were opposite. the room was still full of their wedding presents. when they moved out a pair of footprints were found in the lino exactly where he had been standing. mum tried to find out more but no one knew anything about him

Max Sinclair, Worcester
During the war at the Royal Grammar School we had a fellow pupil nicknamed "Ticker Harris". He was an avid antiques collector, and liked anything old. He went to stay with an aunt who gave him a nightshirt and dickensian nightcap to wear in bed.Getting up in the night in the blackout with a candle he went in the corridor to be confronted by a ghostly shimmering figure. He shreiked and rushed back to bed. Next morning he found a full length antique mirror at the end of the corridor.

Max Sinclair, Worcester
I was the miller at Avoncroft Windmill for fifteen interesting years. One bitterley cold winters day I was milling wholemeal for the local shops.With the Museum closed and working alone I was surprised to hear a voice call something. Looking out of the door at the surrounding fields nobody was visible. Returning to weighing bags of flour I jumped when a voice behind me said "Mind the ropes". The mill was empty and sailing merrily round in a stiff breeze. I went down the steps to find two sail ropes had broken and were whirling around close to catching the roof. This would have been a disaster. I stopped the mill with the brake and secured the sail. Returning to the meal floor I thanked my milling companion who I presumed was a previous miller. After that I never felt alone, although I had previously been a cynic about the paranormal.

alex caine
i remember when i was about eleven, i was walking home from the hereford mayfair,i had the choice to go through bridge street or go down gwynne street so i decided to go gwynne street when to my amazement i saw a hooded figure which looked a little bit like a monk, i was scared but carried on walking and it disapeared and when i got around a corner i saw it again it was facing away from me and pointing his finger at something on a big brick wall, then it turned a full 180 degrees and glared intentley at me, at that point i had to run as i had never been this scared in all my life. nowadays when i go down the street it still sends a shiver down my spine.

ben oseman
about six years ago i was at st weonards church in herefordshire when i saw a white hooded figure bent down by a gravestone i screamed and tried to console mysely by saying it could have been a bag however it turned and looked at that point i tried to shout but i was froze like a stone, the encounter lasted about 20 seconds. i for however long i live, i shall never forget that face. and whenever i go in the area i am weiry. THANKS FOR READING.

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