Friday, October 10, 2008

Church Hill Plantation



Church Hill Plantation is located on Route 14 directly across from what used to be Gloucester County Day School, now Ware Academy, where I attended grade school. One time our class went on a field trip to Church Hill, clear across the road. It wasn't much of a trip, per se, distance-wise, but it was a field trip I'll never forget. Even at that young age I was fascinated with old houses, and here was an opportunity to go inside one without violating any trespassing laws.



For as long as I can remember and well beyond that since my memory only dates back two days, Gloucester's Church Hill Plantation, which dates to pre-1700's, has been associated with a ghost story.

Legend has it that a young girl, pining away for a lost love, fell ill one winter and died. She was buried on the grounds of the family estate. That evening was a cold, snowy, blustery night. A thief rumored to be a disgruntled servant dug the coffin up and stole the jewelry she'd been buried with. Unable to get one of the rings off her finger, he cut the finger off. Imagine his amazement when the shock of his action caused the girl to awaken from whatever coma she was in. The thief ran off into the night.

The girl, weak and bleeding, dragged her way in the snow storm to the front door. She scratched and knocked to the best of her ability, but to no avail. The wind was howling, and whatever noise she made was attributed to the storm by people inside. She eventually succumbed to the elements and they found her dead on the front door step the next morning.

They (whoever "they" are) say that sometimes rustling skirts are heard in the house. Some say they have seen blood stains in the first snow of winter or on the door where she was knocking. Others say that the most beautiful violets sprout up where she died.

I have no idea if any of this is true, if parts of it are true, or if none of it is true, but I do know this: Church Hill is one gorgeous old house with lots of stories associated with it.

And every time I drive by I want to pull in and look around for blood stains and violets. Except that would be trespassing.

Unless I said I was the Avon lady.....

16 comments:

Grandma J said...

What a story! I love those folklore things. I bet many people were buried alive back then.

Val said...

what an amazing story and an evocative place! maybe it was catatonia like Silas Marner had - or maybe she just fainted..... that thief could have saved her if only. I hope violets spring up for me one day - what a lovely thought. thanks for this story x

Mental P Mama said...

Wow. I love stories like that. Can we go trespass there when I visit?

Margaret Cloud said...

This is a well told story, since back then when a person died they just buried you, thanks for sharing this story, I do so love ghost stories.

nativedevil said...

One of the best ghost stories from the whole area. It is well documented as well. Keep up the good work-glad you don't limit yourself to the county line.

Big Hair Envy said...

Perhaps you could designate every Friday in October as "Ghost Story Day"!! LOVE the lore:) I'll have to try to dig up a few stories of my own to share with you....

foolery said...

What a great story! The skeptic in me wants to blast it full of gunpowder, though. She had enough strength to get out of a six-foot hole in a blizzard, but not enough to throw her shoe through a glass window?

But that would be a jerky thing to do, to point that out, so I'll say instead, "LET'S GO VIOLET-HUNTING!" And I can cut myself and bleed all over the door to freak out the looky-loos. :)

Hope the trip is going well!

-- Laurie

Karen Deborah said...

What a weird story! Did yu know that the expression "a dead ringer" is supposed to be that they put a bell above a grave with a pull cord on it so if a corpse is buried, and not really a corpse they can ring for help? YEEE gawds. Let me tell you, dead looks like dead and there isn't any life there. I can't figure out how people could ever make a mistake like that. I think it's a tall tale, has a lot of drama in it though don't you think? I love looking at old houses, plantations and all such historical places.
What really impresses me is that your memory goes back two days, mine goes back for two minutes; you've got a good mind!

Rebeckah said...

Wow, I love this story! That kind of stuff usually spooks me but this story is intriguing! Hope your weekend is spectacular!

MommyTime said...

This is a great story. I love old houses too, so I would be trespassing (er, exploring?) right along with you if I lived anywhere near you. The story reminds me a little bit of Cathy's ghost in Wuthering Heights, though that is neither the first nor last story to include such a tale of a pining young woman in love. Still... thanks for sharing.

PS Find the violets yet?

Grandma J said...

Some of us are going through withdrawals....just thought I'd tell you

Big Hair Envy said...

Rode through our beloved Jamaica today! Thought of you. Hurry back. You are missed:) Let me know when you are available for the K&Q tour!!

Anonymous said...

That story scared the puddin' out of me when I was little.

My maternal grandfather (when he was a dashing young man) attended a fox hunt at Church Hill (in the 1910's), and jumped his horse over a car parked in the lane there. No doubt he was aided by the little sloping hills on either side of the drive.

Love the stories! Keep em' coming!

AMNRITSOR
anonymous Mathews native....

bellalately said...

Wow- it's been a long time since I've heard that story. Jogged alot of old memories :) Got an Old House Woods stories? That'll scare the pants right off some people-LOL!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Anonymous Mathews Native - I would love to hear more about your grandfather and that fox hunt. Anytime you want to do a guest post, just send let me know. I would not be surprised if my great-grandfather and your grandfather knew each other.

bellalately - YES, we have Old House Woods stories. I think I posted it one in the March or April archives and we had some commenters who made great contributions to it all. Maybe around Halloween I'll bring it up again...it's so daggone fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I was raised 1 mile down Rt 14. I went to school with Evan Van Luewen and spent the night there several times. Evan had a closet door that would open a little bit every morning I believe it was 7:15.
I was never scared just fascinated.