A powerful emotion echoed from the past with a chance meeting of a visitor who was visiting the house, travelling through past memories. She told me that her grandparents Walter and Annie Heal had been tenant farmers at Cothay over a hundred years ago, farming here from around 1900. During this time, they had always heard a knocking on the door of the Guest Chamber and from time to time, a ghostly figurine would walk through the room; a benign presence which caused them no problems.
Just before the First World War, they were making some alterations to the room and whilst knocking down a wall, they discovered a manacled skeleton which had been walled up in the room.
For many years after the discovery, Walter Heal had attempted to undo the manacle which he had slipped off the wrist of the skeleton. Years later in the early 1960s, in June he managed to release the spring. Intrigued, he visited Cothay and asked the then owner if she had even seen a ghost. She replied “yes, but not since June, when he suddenly stopped appearing.” This was on the exact date that Walter Heal managed to release the spring holding the manacle together.
When they left Cothay, they took with them the manacle, which they hung in their hall. They had said they always wanted it to return to Cothay. Sadly, their house was burgled and the manacle was lost.
Mother says to live in a house which has stood for hundreds of years, that it is not surprising that the spirits still inhabit the ancient building. The restless ghost, which for decades wandered through the rooms, is now at peace.
As the mystic Mary Webb wrote: “The past is only the present become invisible and mute – we are tomorrow’s past – we that are the new things gather magic as we go”