What do children, think of today when October 31st, Halloween, draws near? .... “Trick or Treat”? The word Halloween of course, comes from All Hallow`s Eve, a celebration on the Eve of the Christian All Hallows Day [also known as All Saint`s Day] dedicated to the memory of the dead, especially those “blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living”.
However the origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, which was held on what would have been November 1st today. On that day, it was believed, that the souls of the dead would return to their homes ... and to ward off any evil spirits people would dress up in costumes and light bonfires.
There has always been a wonder about what happens to us when we die and we each have our own very special beliefs. There are those who believe in ghosts, two local ones are the White Lady of Gracedieu and Dame Margaret of Coleorton. The White Lady thought to be Rose de Verdon founded Gracedieu Priory between 1235 and 1241 for fourteen Augustinian nuns. She died and was buried there in 1247. Three hundred years later, Dame Margaret Rempston, Prioress between 1414 and 1418 had the body of Rose de Verdon exhumed and re-interred near the church in Belton. Some believe this caused the ghost of the White Lady to roam the grounds of Gracedieu, even to this day. There have been many who have claimed sightings.
But what of Coleorton`s ghost, the long dead Dame Margaret? In The 1940s, Rev A. Eveleigh Eager writes in his booklet Coleorton and the Beaumonts “The Hall has, or had, its ghost. One Dame Margaret is said to walk the corridors and haunt the rooms as well as the grounds at the Ides of March. On the 12th March it is claimed that Dame Margaret rattles chains, too, first in the house and then in the gardens.”
Since that time, there have been other reports of Dame Margaret's disturbing incidences at the Hall. Certainly the staff of industries that occupied the Hall after 1948, including the National Coal Board and Fisons, saw and heard some very peculiar happenings: lights inexplicably turned on and off, doors opened and closed, keys turned in locks, tappings on unattended keyboards and things going missing.
In a 1993 Coalville Times article Dame's Spooky Spell, Dame Margaret is said to haunt the Hall's rooms and corridors. Members of staff of Fisons, the company that was preparing to be based there, reported some very odd happenings. Mr John Masters said: While two of us were preparing the Hall, I was drilling holes into the wall and missed my rawlplugs. I sent my mate to get some more, put down my drill whilst waiting. I turned...then surprise surprise a bunch of red rawlplugs appeared next to me on an empty flat surface, we only ever bought brown ones....While we were there phones jumped off their cradles, and once every door on one floor had the lock fastenings unscrewed just far enough to stop the doors closing.... then one evening someone from British Coal came to work at 6am. He rang and said he`d seen someone looking through a window. There was no one there!
Mr Arthur Brooks, who was a gardener at the Hall and the Rectory, recounted the rumour that the ghost of Dame Margaret visited the Rectory via a tunnel on the Ides of March too! However Ivy Johnson's eleven year old grandson Nicolas sat on the stairs of the Rectory one March night in 1976 waiting to see the ghost ...but she didn't appear! ... Do you believe in ghosts? Is someone you know going to Trick or Treat?
Coleorton Heritage Group