Memories shared of time spent near the ‘White Lady’

The headless and footless statue lying on the tomb outside Priory Church, Lancaster
The headless and footless statue lying on the tomb outside Priory Church, Lancaster

In last week’s Nostalgia we looked back at the history of a well-known tomb at Lancaster Priory.

The tomb, which is close to Lancaster Priory, has an effigy of a woman now sadly without its head, right hand and 
feet.

Ted Willan from Lancaster sent us this photo of him (middle) with his mum Helena, his brother Edwin and sister Mabel at the tomb by the Priory. It was taken in about 1926/27.

Ted Willan from Lancaster sent us this photo of him (middle) with his mum Helena, his brother Edwin and sister Mabel at the tomb by the Priory. It was taken in about 1926/27.

It was originally surrounded by cast-iron railings, of which only two sides remain in damaged condition.

The memorial is said to be Ann Rothwell, wife of William Talbot Rothwell of Foxholes, Bay Horse.

According to local folklore, Ann fell to her death from the Priory, as she tried to put the clock back to halt either her husband’s or father’s hanging.

Lancaster resident Ted Willan wrote to us after seeing last week’s paper to send us a photograph of him and his family pictured next to the tomb in the 1920s.

He and his family – mum Helena, dad Tom, brother Edwin and sister Mabel – would often spend time around the Priory close to the tomb.

Mr Willan, who is 89 and lives in Rays Drive, said: “It was a lovely place to sit on warm summer days.

“The effigy was beautiful in those days. If you asked anyone about her, the answer would be that she fell from the tower, but no one had any idea what she was doing or how she fell.

“There were rumours that she committed suicide, but if she had, she wouldn’t be allowed a burial in consecrated ground in those days.”

Mr Willan, who was born in Edward Street and attended the former Boys’ National School, added: “She was known as the White Lady, and she was beautiful. Everyone knew about her because she was there on the hill in all her glory.

“I am appalled by the vandalism that’s happened to her.”