The Official Tourism Website for Herefordshire

The Ghost of Lady Bluefoot

There are many tales of hauntings in Herefordshire, some are rather sinister and others said to highlight a wrong doing or misdeed. Our tale this week takes us to the very borders of our county, where England meets Wales. To the far north west of Herefordshire. Our ghost ‘Lady Bluefoot’ as she was known was said to have resided in Stapleton Castle at Presteigne. The stories of her were so prevalent that folk who crossed the border between England and Wales nearby to the castle were scared of passing by at night for fear of seeing her. Even decades later when the castle stood in ruins, children would tease and scare each other about the ghost of ‘Lady Bluefoot’.

‘Lady Bluefoot’ was infact Lady Stapleton, a young woman who had been widowed after her husband was killed in a stag hunt. She resided at the castle with her young son Everard. As with every great story there is always a villain and in this tale it happens to be a steward called Morgan Reece. Morgan Reece had seized the opportunity of getting close to Lady Stapleton in a bid to take the castle for himself. His only obstacle to this was Everard. As Everard grew older he became challenging, so Morgan hatched a plan to remove him. Having convinced Lady Stapleton that her son needed to be educated properly he conspired to have Everard removed and sent to boarding school. Shortly after however the dreadful news came that Everard had gone missing, there was no trace as to where he went or who may have taken him.

Lady Stapleton was distraught at the news about her son and fell into a melancholy state and collapsed, with those around her fearing for her life. But Morgan Reece took it upon himself to visit her every day, pretending that he too was upset at the news and reassured her that he was searching for the boy. As time passed Lady Stapleton became more and more reliant on Morgan Reece, she was frail, despairing and bereft. So it was with great shock and surprise to those around her when all of a sudden her demeanour changed dramatically. She had gone from a weak and feeble state to having fire in her eyes, glowing cheeks and a look of sheer resentment whenever Reece’s name was mentioned. No one knew what had passed between them that had brought about this change, only that she did not want him to visit her ever again.

The night that Lady Stapleton had banished Morgan Reece her maid was awoken by what she thought was a scream. As she listened intently in the dark, all was quiet, so she assumed that she must have been dreaming and fell back to sleep.

However in the morning when the maid got up she felt that there was something strange about the house. Lady Stapleton had not summoned her and her repeated taps on her bedroom door had gone unanswered. Fearing the worst the maid called the rest of the servants and they entered the room together. Only to find their mistress’s body, lying against her couch in a pool of blood. Her husband’s hunting knife close by. It was clear that her throat had been cut and it appeared that Lady Stapleton had taken her own life.

Morgan Reece testified that he and Lady Stapleton had had words the night of her death. Apparently she had accused him of abducting her son, which he strenuously denied. He convinced everyone that she had killed herself in a state of grief and despair, but some still held their suspicions that he was involved in her death. Many had heard the maid’s tale about the scream in the night and suspected Morgan of murder. The castle remained an uneasy place after Lady Stapleton’s death, people reported unnatural occurrences, unexplained lights and visions and hearing screams. One by one the servants left and the castle stood empty, until her son Everard Stapleton returned much to the astonishment of everyone.

He told of his disappearance of how he was abducted from school by one of Morgan Reece’s men and had been put on a boat which had then been shipwrecked in the Atlantic. Fortune shone upon him though and he was rescued by a Puritan voyager making his way to America, there he was looked after and led a good life. Everard was determined to find out what had happened to his mother and after much investigating he found evidence of Reece’s guilt in a locked cupboard.

You may have thought that this sad story ends here but you would be wrong. Upon hearing that Everard was back, Morgan Reece returned to the castle, still believing that no-one knew of his misdeed. When confronted by Everard a struggled ensued and Reece was killed in the tussle. Lady Stapleton had finally been avenged.

Knowing now that Lady Stapleton had not taken her own life, her remains were moved to a more fitting place in a vault below Presteigne church, only a mile from the castle. Justice had been done and the ghost of ‘Lady Bluefoot’ could finally be laid to rest. Everard and his wife never returned to the castle again. It was said that before he left he returned the evidence to the cupboard where he had found it and took the key with him.

We would not have known about this tale if it wasn’t for a tattered notebook that was found in an old farmhouse in Presteigne containing a hand written account of events. How amazing is that?

If you love Herefordshire Folklore and History follow our weekly Facebook ‘Folklore Friday’ feature here.

Click here to return to our Herefordshire History and Folklore page for more great stories.