The Official Tourism Website for Herefordshire

Tragedy at Aylton Court

If you’ve ever been out to the east of Herefordshire you may have come across the lovely village of Aylton. Since Saxon times there has been a settlement here and interestingly the name of the village was derived from the Anglo Saxon female leader of the settlement Aethelgifu.

Aylton Court, a large Georgian house built of brick has been a fixture here since around 1841 and over the years was rented out to various tenants. In 1855 the Foulger family moved in and for a while they were very happy but then a terrible tragedy befell them. One fateful day John Foulger’s children Henry and Emma were playing as they normally would. Running around, shrieking and getting up to no good as children invariably do. When suddenly John heard something that he did not expect to hear, the sound of a gunshot and then a deadly silence which turned his blood cold. With fear rising in his chest and a dread in his heart he walked towards where the gunfire had come from, it was the family staircase.

Before him stood his son Henry with gun still in hand, white to the core like a statue, just like all his blood had drained from his body. It was clear that he was in shock, his eyes welling up with tears, he said nothing but remained so very still. Before him laid his sister Emma, her body lifeless and mortally injured from the shot he had just taken, the air was heavy with sadness and the inevitability of it all.

It turned out that Henry had found a gun, thinking it was unloaded the children began playing with it and as they did so Henry pointed it at Emma who was on the staircase and shot her dead.

Indescribable grief ravaged the family, Emma was duly buried in Aylton churchyard and life was never to be the same again for the Foulger family.

You may have thought that this tragedy could not get any worse but it did. The family were to receive yet another awful blow when shortly after Emma’s burial her grave was raided by robbers and her body taken.

Haunted by grief and the tragedy that had befallen them the family moved away from Aylton Court three years later. Legend has it that Emma still haunts the staircase where she was shot by her brother.

How very sad.

These stories are curated from many sources and retold in our fun ESL style, in the true spirit of Folklore.

If you’ve enjoyed this story and 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.