Combermere Abbey Photograph

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  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Combermere Abbey Photograph
    ’All the Year Round’ was a weekly Victorian magazine owned and edited by Charles Dickens and following his death in 1870 by his son Charles Dickens Junior. In December 1870 it featured the following article concerning an experience at Combermere Abbey.

    “The old part of this fine old mansion has been made into bedrooms and offices, not being in keeping with the splendour of modern requirements. Thus, what used to be called the coved saloon’ was first degraded into a nursery, and is now used as a bedroom. When the late Lord Cotton grew old, this room, in which he had played as a child, was occupied by his niece, Miss P., who before her marriage resided at the house. Lady Cotton’s dressing-room was only divided from the ‘coved saloon’ by a short corridor.

    One evening Miss P. was alone, dressing for a very late dinner, and as she rose from her toilet glass to get some article of dress, she saw standing near her bed—a little iron one, placed out in the room away from the wall—the figure of a child dressed in a very quaint frock, with an odd little ruff round its neck. For some moments Miss P. stood and stared, wondering how this strange little creature could have entered her room. The full glare of the candle was upon its face and figure. As she stood looking at it, the child began to run round the bed in a wild, distressed way with a look of suffering in its little face.

    “Miss P., still more and more surprised, walked up to the bed and stretched out her hand, when the child suddenly vanished, how or where she did not see, but apparently into the floor. She went at once to Lady Cotton’s room, and inquired of her to whom the little girl could belong she had just seen in her room, expressing her belief that it was supernatural, and describing her odd dress and troubled face.

    “The ladies went down to dinner, for many guests were staying in the house. Lady Cotton thought and thought over this strange appearance. At last she remembered that Lord Cotton had told her that one of his earliest recollections was the grief he felt at the sudden death of a little sister of whom he was very fond, fourteen years old. The two children had been playing together in the nursery—the same ‘coved saloon’ —running round and round the bed overnight. In the morning, when he woke, he was told she had died in the night, and he was taken by one of the nursery-maids to see her laid out on her little bed in the ‘coved saloon’. The sheet which covered her was removed to show him her face. The horror he had felt at the first sight of death made so vivid an impression on him that in extreme old age he still recalled it. The dress and face of the child, as described by Miss P., agreed precisely with his remembrance of his sister. Both Lady Cotton and Miss P. related this to the writer.”