How the ghost may have looked
Looking for Nell
by Ken Nicholls
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
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
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