Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Desirable Lady Blanche - Murdered by Mistake

The ghost of a great Lady haunts the site where she met her death - by mistake. The trouble with Lady Blanche was that too many men were in love with her.

Rochester Castle, Author Unknown

Simon de Montfort - the one who led the barons against King Henry III of England - attacked Rochester Castle on Good Friday in the year 1264.
It was a tragedy just waiting to happen. Simon de Montfort, reputed to be a great hero, was repelled by Ralph de Capo's spirited resistance. And Ralph had very good reason to fight so valiantly for the Castle.  It contained his future bride, the beautiful Lady Blanche de Warenne.  As his enemies began to retreat, Ralph de Capo, consumed with jealousy, was still spoiling for a fight and left the Castle in hot pursuit of the upstart, de Montfort.
One of the attacking soldiers was Gilbert de Clare, who had a soft spot himself for Lady Blanche although she had already rejected him in favour of Ralph. This was a preference that Gilbert found hard to accept, or even to understand. Amid the chaos, and seeing that Ralph had disappeared, Gilbert de Clare decided it might be worth trying again to convince Blanche of his suitability to be her lover.
An Arrow in Lady Blanche's Heart
Sneaking into the Castle, he soon located Lady Blanche, almost fainting on the battlements as she watched events unfolding down below. Immediately Gilbert seized Blanche in his arms and held her close, expecting her to yield to him.  Although she recoiled in disgust and thrust him away from her, it was at that moment that Ralph de Capo glanced upwards and thought he saw his enemy and his mistress in a passionate embrace.
Ralph took up his bow and fired at Gilbert de Clare. Although his aim was spot-on, the arrow glanced off de Clare's armour, veered sideways and came to rest in Lady Blanche's heart. She fell, dead, at Gilbert's feet, the arrow still quivering in her breast, and with her gorgeous gown stained with ugly blotches of dark red blood.
Lady Blanche de Warenne's ghost is claimed to haunt the Castle today, and has been seen peering over the battlements at the phantom bloody battle below.
  • Adapted from: Cameron, Janet, Medway Murder & Crime, Tempus Publishing, 2008.
  • Rayner, Steven.

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