White Lady (ghost)
||This article possibly contains original research. (August 2011)|
A White Lady (also known as the Mulher de Branco) is a type of female ghost reportedly seen in rural areas and associated with some local legend of tragedy. White Lady legends are found around the world. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband, boyfriend or fiancé. They are often associated with an individual family line or said to be a harbinger of death similar to a banshee.
In popular medieval legend, a White Lady is fabled to appear by day as well as by night in a house in which a family member is soon to die. According to The Nuttall Encyclopaedia, these spirits were regarded as the ghosts of deceased ancestresses.
Glamis Castle, Scotland, is said to be haunted by a young woman dressed in flowing white robes. There are various stories concerning her history, one of which is that she was a daughter of the Lyon family who occupied the castle in the 17th century. When her affair with a manservant was discovered she was banished to a tower on the battlements. Unable to endure her suffering, she threw herself to her death from the tower. The ghost of the White Lady has been reportedly seen a number of times over the years, often on the grounds surrounding the castle. She has also been reportedly seen in the room in which she was imprisoned.
Darwen is reportedly haunted by a ghost. In Darwen's old cemetery there is a gravestone of a supposed white lady, whose eyes open when they are touched. There have been reported sightings of her ghost walking around the area at night, seeking her child. The white lady of Darwen is said to have died during childbirth, or to have been raped and murdered by a group of men who stole her child. She is said to manifest in response to the spoken phrase "White lady, white lady, I stole your black baby", before attacking the speaker and causing them to faint. Local folklore says that the white lady of Darwen killed a group of teenagers who were on a camping trip in the White Hall Park in the late 1980s, within two hours of them visiting her grave.
The White Lady of Willow Park is native to a small, heavily wooded park of Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, in northwest England. She is thought to be the tormented spirit of a bride who was drowned in the lake by her husband on their wedding night. Variations on her method of death include being bricked up in a cave and hanging herself in the kitchen.
The White Lady (also known as the 'Running Lady') of Beeford, East Yorkshire resides on the "Beeford Straight", a stretch of road between Beeford and Brandesburton. Motorists have reported her apparition running across the Beeford Straight toward the junction of North Frodingham. Anecdotal tales also report a motorcyclist picking up a female hitchhiker on the same stretch of road. A few miles later the motorcyclist, upon turning around, noticed the passenger had vanished. In one instance, a car crashed into a tree killing 6 people . It is rumored to be her curse.
Muncaster Castle in the county of Cumbria is reputed to be one of England's most haunted houses. The vengeful ghost in white of Mary Bragg, a foul-mouthed local girl who was murdered by being hanged from the Main Gate by drunken youths in the 19th century after they had kidnapped her for a joke, is also referred to as the white lady.
Roughwood Nature Reserve in the Black Country also has had a high number of paranormal incidents, including sightings of a woman in a white dress, drenched in ichor from the lake where it is rumored her body was abandoned. Local myths suggest this is the spirit of Pauline Kelly, who with her daughter Evelyn disappeared in the mid-19th century. The local community has a Halloween tradition involving wearing white dresses and speaking the mocking rhyme: "White Lady, White Lady, I'm the one who killed your baby."
This rhyme came into being after stories involving the kidnapping of the child after the death of Mrs. Kelly, which keeps her rooted to this world.
There have also been reported sightings of a White Lady in Sidcup at the Foots Cray Meadows. It is seen every night and is slow walking its very bright white colour. The story is that her husband died in the war and every night she walks the meadows scattering flowers for her lost loved one. In the local church there is a diary of hers with the final words being, "I will see you soon." It is rumored that she committed suicide in the meadow after having written this.
The Old Mill Hotel, Motherwell, is said to be haunted by a ghost called the white lady this bed and breakfast from long ago. A lady was engaged to a man and was due to be married in the old mill hotel. On their wedding day, the lady's fiance never arrived to the wedding, as he was beaten up by another man who also wanted the lady. The lady was upset and angry, so she ran to the Nine arches where the trains run past. She sat on the edge crying and forlorn. A train rushed passed her and she jumped in fright, falling to the ground dead. For the rest of her fiance's life, the white lady (the lady who died in her white wedding dress) haunted him for apparently not loving her. Her grave is near the old mill hotel and she is said to be seen sitting under a beautiful tree.
The White Lady of Acra (NY) goes back to the late 1700s when a young woman failed to show up at a neighbor's home that was convalescing at the time. A search found her wagon overturned where it appeared she had attempted to cross the swollen Acra Creek above the old tannery and somehow the wagon broke loose from the horse and flipped over in the current. A search was made in and along the creek, as well as for days afterwards but she was never found. At odd times over the past 200 years or more- a young woman dressed in all white has been seen appearing at night along the road she last traveled on as well as near the cemetery not far from her tragic accident.
Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey, is home to the legend of the White Lady of Branch Brook Park. Two conflicting stories are told about this ghost. In one version, the lady was a newlywed who was killed along with her husband on her wedding night when their V8 Ford Mustang skidded out of control and crashed into a tree in the park. In another version, the couple were on their way to a prom when their limousine crashed; the boy lived but the girl died, and she is allegedly still looking for her prom date. The White Lady of Branch Brook Park was also known in Newark's Roseville section, which borders the park, as Mary Yoo-Hoo. For many years the tree in question was along a sharp curve in the park road and part of its trunk was painted white, but it has since been cut down completely. It was said that on rainy or misty nights passing headlights produced a ghostly image crossing the road. There is some evidence that the details of this legend have been borrowed or blurred into other legends. Annie's Road, in particular, is thought to be a rehosting of this legend.
Another legend tells of the White Lady jumping off the Portchester Castle while she was carrying a child she didn't want. Her spirit is said to haunt the castle to this day.
The White Lady who is said to haunt Durand-Eastman Park in Rochester, New York, is believed to be the spirit of a mother whose daughter was kidnapped and raped. There are also other variations of the story, including one more intricate story, which depicts the mother as overly protective of her daughter, who rarely goes out. When a man asks to take her daughter out, the mother is at first hesitant, but on the daughter's insistence, reluctantly agrees. When the daughter fails to return that night, the mother is informed the next morning that the body of her daughter has been found on the shore of the lake. From her remains, it is clear that the daughter has been brutally raped and strangled. The mysterious man is never seen or heard from again. Another variation of the story depicts the daughter simply vanishing, and the mother searching for her with two large German Shepherd dogs. Eventually the mother throws herself into Lake Ontario, and drowns. It is thought that the ghost of the white lady and her two dogs still wander the area looking for her daughter's murderer. The White Lady is said to protect women in the park from men who mean to harm them, and to attack men in the hope that she will find her daughter's killer.
A film loosely based on this urban legend known as "The Lady in White" was created by Frank LaLoggia, but was filmed in other parts of upstate New York, rather than in Rochester. One popular misconception is that a stone barrier which overlooks the Lake, on Lake Shore Boulevard is in fact the White Lady's "Castle." This is in fact not true, it was built as an overlook, to accompany a restaurant which used to stand on the top of the hill overlooking the lake. While the stone steps leading up to this area still exist, the restaurant has since been demolished. Photographs of this area as it once was can be found in the Rochester photo archives, accessible through the Rochester Library online website. Additionally, any actual historical evidence of a murder of this kind taking place in Durand Eastman Park, has never been uncovered, and thus the validity of this story is suspect. 
"The Ghostly Sphinx of Metedeconk" by Stephen Crane recounts the tale of a White Lady whose lover was drowned in 1815:
In the afternoon and early evening, a female spirit in a white dress wanders around Charleston's Unitarian graveyard. She is known as the "Lady in White" by the locals. She is said to be the spirit of a woman who died at about the same time that her husband died as his ship sailed for Boston, Massachusetts. Neither of them knew of the other's demise. She was buried in the Unitarian cemetery while he was buried in Boston, where his spirit allegedly haunts that graveyard. The ethereal "Lady in White" searches the graveyard eternally for her husband.
The Headless Bride is a ghost who is said to haunt the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, supposedly murdered by her ambitious new husband, who was previously one of her servants. According to the tale, the newlyweds went on a trip to Yellowstone. However, the young man managed to gamble away the money. When the woman asked her father for more money, and he refused, the husband beheaded his wife and fled. According to the legend, she haunts only the Old House, since that was the only part built when she was alive.
Tolamato Cemetery in St. Augustine, Florida, has been home to stories of a haunting by a "lady in white" since the 19th century. Legend states that the ghost is the spirit of a young woman who died suddenly on her way to be married, and who was buried in her wedding dress. The spirit seems to be attracted to children and has been reported as appearing to young boys and girls "camping out" in the graveyard. This white lady also appeared to a young woman who was ill and housebound; she could allegedly see the spectre out of her second-floor window, and reported regular sightings during her illness. Two doors down from the cemetery, a lady in white has been reportedly seen several times on the upper balcony of a local inn, although it is unclear if this is the same spirit.
In Mukilteo, Washington there have been many alleged reports of a white lady or Lady In White sightings just off of Clearview Drive in the forest or on the road near the treeline. When night falls on Clearview Drive, rumor has it she will try to hitch a ride from drivers, or will stand in the road pointing, before disappearing suddenly as if to trick them. There have been anonymous reports of crying and screaming around the waterfall area of Clearview Drive. In a few accounts she has thrown unexpected items at the vehicle or the windshield, or has set mangled animals in the road; there have even been a few reports of deer ripped up as if they were eaten. A local resident stated in the Mukilteo Beacon, "Go down Clearview Drive half past eight P.M. There ain't no comin' back. She'll find ya, she can smell your blood and fear."
In Madisonville, Louisiana there is a legend about a woman called "The Silk Lady". Her ghost is said to haunt Palmetto Flats by Highway 22. The story goes that back in the mid-1800s there was a woman who was riding back from town after seeing her lover off. She was riding down an old logging trail when a snake spooked her horse. She fell, hit her head, and died as a result of the injury. Several people have reported her as a woman dressed in a whispy, silky dress and that her feet don't touch the ground. When she sees someone she is said to cackle like a banshee. The last sightings were in the 1950s before the land was developed into a residential area. The museum in Madisonville has an exhibit dedicated to her in the jail cells underneath the museum.
In Altoona, Pennsylvania she is known as the White Lady of Whopsy. Her ghost is said to haunt Wopsononock Mountain and Buckhorn Mountain in the western part of Altoona. It's said that she and her husband had an ill-fated crash over what's known as Devil's Elbow as you head into the city itself where both of them tumbled over the side of the mountain. She is seen looking for her husband, mostly on foggy nights, and has been picked up as a hitch hiker on numerous occasions. Her reflection is not seen in the mirror but she always disappears around Devil's Elbow.
In Fremont, California there is a White Lady (called the White Witch) ghost sightings in Niles Canyon. A woman named Lowerey was one of the first people in the area killed in an automobile accident. People have seen her in a cemetery in the area with strange lights and local legend says you can see her walking the ridge between the Niles Hollywood style sign and a few miles from there into the canyon.
A white woman was first reported to be seen in the Berliner Schloss in 1625 and sightings have been reported up until 1790. This castle is the residence of the kings of Prussia, so the Lady has been linked to several historical figures:
- the guilt-ridden countess Kunigunda of Orlamünde, born Landgravine of Leuchtenberg (Oberpfalz), who, according to legend, murdered her two young children because she believed they stood in the way of her marriage to Albert of Nuremberg.
- the unfortunate widow Bertha of Rosenberg from Bohemia, overthrown by the heathen Perchta.
In Slavic Mythology, a Rusalka was the ghost of a girl or young woman that died violently, usually young women who committed suicide because they had been jilted by their lovers, or unmarried women who were pregnant. She takes form of a ghost, naiad, succubus mermaid.
White Ladies are popular ghost story topics in the Philippines. Along with other mythological creatures and ghostly beings like the Manananggal, Tiyanak, Kapre, Wak-Wak, and Tikbalang, White Ladies are often used to convey horror and mystery to young children for storytelling. Sightings of White Ladies are common around the country, and usually every town and barrio has its own "White Lady" story.
Balete Drive White Lady
The most prominent one is the White Lady of Balete Drive in Quezon City. It is said that it is the ghost of a long-haired woman in a white dress, who according to legend, died in a car accident while driving along Balete Drive. Most stories about her were told by taxi drivers doing the graveyard shift, such as the one where a taxi crosses Balete Drive, and a very beautiful woman is asking for a ride. The cabbie looks behind and sees the woman's face was full of blood and bruises, causing him to abandon his taxi in horror.
In other instances, it is said that when solitary people drive on that street in the early morning, they briefly see the face of a white-clad woman in the rear-view mirror before she quickly disappears. Some accidents on this road are blamed on apparitions of the White Lady.
Many sources have said this legend was actually manufactured by a reporter in the 1950s, and also a possible combination of multiple stories from the area.
Legend has it that many years ago, a woman was to be married to a man she did not love. Her father told her that she must always do as her fiancé said since he was soon to be her husband. On the day of her wedding, she committed suicide by jumping off a balcony. This is why she is to this day known as the White Lady, because she was wearing her wedding gown on the day of her death. It is said that she haunts the Verdala Palace and many people who attend the August moon ball confirm that she does indeed appear in the palace.
According to another Maltese legend, the White Lady of Mdina was killed by her lover after she was forced to marry another man. Many have claimed to see this spirit, always after eight o'clock in the evening. She usually appears to children under eight years old, heart-broken teenage boys, and elderly men. While she tells the children goodnight and bids them to return home, she advises the teenagers to "find another" or to join her and become a part of her "shadow" (her ghostly followers). She also attempts to lure elderly men into her "shadow."
Portuguese producer David Rebordão created a popular internet video featuring a fictional White Lady. The video consists of supposedly "recovered footage" found at the scene of a fatal car accident, near Sintra, Portugal. In the video, a woman and two young men are shown taking a car trip to the mountains. One passenger records the trip with a video camera. While driving along the road, the travelers spot a strange female hitchhiker, whom they pick up. The passenger with the camera focuses on the hitchhiker, who seems strangely quiet, but says her name is Teresa, and states that she has not been the same since her accident. She then points out a spot on the road where she says she died. She suddenly turns to the camera and screams, showing her face, which is now apparently badly scarred and bloody and vanishes immediately. The car, according to reports, was found flipped on its side, killing two of the travelers. According to the text at the end of the video, police investigating the accident found that a girl named Teresa Fidalgo died in a car accident in 1983 at that very spot. Many viewers considered the video an imitation of The Blair Witch Project. The producer, David Rebordão, admits this, explaining the story's fabrication on his website. Rebordão confirmed, in an interview with Júlia Pinheiro (channel TVI) that the story was fictional, and that he had created the character himself. He stated that he was very surprised at the notoriety the story has achieved all over the world.
Called Dama Branca or Mulher de Branco in Portuguese, the Brazilian Lady in White is said to be the ghost of a young woman who died of childbirth or violent causes. According to legend, she appears as a pale woman in a long white dress or a sleeping gown, and although usually speechless, will occasionally recount her misfortunes. The origins of the myth are not clear, Luís da Câmara Cascudo's Dicionário do Folclore Brasileiro (Brazilian Folklore Dictionary) proposes that the ghost is related to the violent deaths of young white women who were murdered by their fathers or husbands in an "honor" killing. The most frequent reasons for these honor killings were adultery (actual or suspected), denial of sex, or abuse. Monteiro Lobato in his book Urupês describes a young woman starved to death by her husband because he suspected she was in love with a black slave and only gave her the stewed meat of his corpse for food.
The best-known White Lady of the Czech Republic is the ghost of Perchta of Rožmberk at Rožmberk Castle. Perchta of Rožmberk (c. 1429–1476) was a daughter of an important Czech nobleman, Oldřich II of Rožmberk. She married another nobleman, Jan of Lichtenštejn (John of Liechtenstein) in 1449. The marriage was quite unhappy. One of the reasons might have been the fact that Perchta's father had been reluctant to pay the agreed dowry. Legend has it that as her husband was dying, he asked for her forgiveness for his treatment of her. Perchta refused, and her husband cursed her. This is why she haunts his holdings, which include Český Krumlov Castle, where she has been seen most often. During her married life, Perchta wrote many letters to her father and brothers with colourful descriptions of her unhappy family life. Some 32 of these letters had been handed down.
The most famous white lady of Estonia resides in Haapsalu castle. She is said to be a woman who the canton fell in love with. She hid in the castle as a choir boy, and remained a secret for a long time. But when the Bishop of Ösel-Wiek visited Haapsalu she was discovered, and immured in the wall of the chapel for her crime. To this day she is said to look out of the Baptistery’s window and grieve for her beloved man. She can be seen on clear August full-moon nights.
In popular culture
- The pilot episode of the horror/drama TV series Supernatural features a White Lady though she is referred to as a Woman in White named Constance Welch. In the episode, her husband's infidelity drives Constance insane and causes her to kill their children. After realizing what she had done, the Constance took her own life. In revenge against her husband, the Woman in White seeks out men who are traveling alone on a road near her old home. As a ghost, she tries to seduce the men and if they are unfaithful, she kills them. In this episode's case, the white lady is attempting to return home but is afraid of facing the ghosts of her children whom she drowned.
- A British children's TV series in the 1970s, The Ghosts of Motley Hall concerning the adventures of a group of ghosts from various periods of the past, featured Sheila Steafel as a character known only as 'The White Lady'. No one knew her past or how she died, including herself.
- A White Lady is central to the plot of the 2006 movie from the Philippines called White Lady.
- Emily, the main antagonist of the 1971 horror film Let's Scare Jessica to Death (played by Mariclare Costello), combines elements of the White Lady archetype with that of a vampire.
- Guild Wars 2 features a hidden quest in which the player is able to escort a Lady in White home. Upon reaching the courtyard of her home, she becomes hostile and attempts to kill the player.
- The Mulher de Branco appears in AdventureQuest Worlds. This version is a recolored and redesigned version of the Siren. It is among the creatures that attack Terra da Festa before the Carnaval Party.
- The White Lady myth is mentioned on Blackmore's Night song "I Guess It Doesn't Matter Anymore", where the character in the song gives a lift to a lady dressed in white that doesn't speak to them, and disappears when they pull over.
- Robinson, Peter (1987). Ghosts and Hauntings in Beverley and East Riding. Hutton Press. ISBN 978-0907033615.
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- É de arrepiar: Mulheres de Branco – Supernatural Brasil
- Perchta of Rozmberk – the White Lady of Bohemia, Jan Velinger, Radio Prague – http://www.radio.cz/en/article/50216
- The Letters of the Rožmberk Sisters, John Klassen, Library of Medieval Women, (2001)
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- White Lady at the Internet Movie Database