Sirwin
Sirwin
Ladies Walk 1904

Let's Talk Ladies Walk

By RosieJSargent | The Writers Bloc | 27 Apr 2023


Hello my lovelies, I hope you are well and doing your best as always! If you are an Andoverian like me (someone who grew up in Andover, Hampshire, U.K), you have certainly heard about the tale of Ladies Walk. For those of you who don't know what I'm even talking about, well - keep on reading...

In 1785 the town council decided to create a recreational walk. The walk itself forms part of the pre-roman track known as Mark Way. The name Ladies Walk was given when Queen Victoria walked the mile-long nature strip with her ladies. Recreational walks were often a pastime for women. In 1863, 121 trees were planted to commemorate the wedding of His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales (later King Edward VII) to Princess Alexandra of Denmark,* which still remains today.

So why is it infamous? And why I am even bothering to write about it? There are multiple versions of the story, but all end with the death of an unnamed young lady. Let me tell you about the Iron Bridge and the White Lady.

The story I grew up hearing went something along the lines of:

A young lady had lost her baby, we don't know how. Some say the baby was kidnapped, others say it was killed. The young lady was incredibly devastated by the loss of her child so she jumped off the Iron Bridge and fell to her death. It's said that if you go up there at night and say "White Lady, White Lady, I have your baby," three times, she will appear.

Or at least that's the version I heard...

Neil Bussey on Dreamtime.com :https://www.dreamstime.com/neilbussey_info

I discovered an old Facebook post (Spotted in Andover) from 2017, where people were actively discussing Ladies Walk and their spooky experiences. One commenter claimed that her child was mixed race, which is why the child was taken and murdered. However, others suggest there was no child at all, and instead, she went mad and fell off the horse she supposedly stole tragically falling to her death from the Iron Bridge, which is why some allege that you can still hear horses' hooves at night.

You get the gist, right? It's a local legend with many versions of events with the same outcome; the White Lady and her death off the Iron Bridge. So I wanted to look into this story to try and maybe discover some incline of truth. Or, prove that it is just a Victorian ghost story that has been past down through generations and that's why there are so many different versions of the same story up and down the country.

But what about those who have claimed to have experiences? Don't worry we'll get to that.

Why do I think it might be a concoction of Victorian morbidness? I mean it does sort of look like a depressed Claude Monet painting...Victorians lovedthe Gothic. Ghost stories became extremely popular for this very reason. For instance, the story of Katherine Howard's ghost (Henry VIII's fifth wife) can be heard wailing in the corridors of Hampton Court Palace. Queen Victoria was a huge fan of tales like this, so what are the chances that Ladies is just another story made for the Queen to indulge in? It is definitely something we should remember when thinking about this story.

Test Valley Borough Council Image

So what about to truth? Well, I couldn't find anything of the sort. I searched Google high and low, going through pages two and three - yep that's how deep I went digging, I got desperate. I surfed newspaper articles from the time of the creation of the Walk in 1785 until the end of the Victorian era in 1901.

Andover has a large history with the printing press so I thought there would at least be something about a strange death, but no unfortunately nothing. Although I did consider that one version of the story may have happened. If the White Lady tale is true and her child was taken by her husband as punishment for her infidelity, then the newspapers of the time wouldn't publish something so...scandalous - right? Or maybe it was just a story to warn women of the consequences of such actions? Who knows?

After which, I went back to the Facebook post, and a couple of particular comments caught my eye. A direct quote reads:

"I've experienced stuff up there but not on the bridge, it was on a mud slope nearby."

Another commenter confirmed this experience saying that though the story of the White Lady scared them, the mud slope nearby the Iron Bridge scared them more. Stating that:

"...mud hill next to the bridge was known as 'dead man's hill' when I was a kid. Apparently, someone hung themselves from the tree there."

The third and final nail in the coffin came from a comment who had claimed to have done some 'ghost hunting up at Ladies Walk. They stated they didn't experience anything on top of the bridge, instead:

"It wasn't until we went and sat at the bottom of the mud slope that [we] heard some rustling getting closer. At the time we presumed it was a dog as we'd seen a lot that day, anyway, we both looked over our shoulders at the same time to see very obvious fast footsteps treading in the leaves down towards us.

I literally shit myself and started running and ---- followed suit. After that day we both had weird and horrible things happening at home."

Sadly Ladies Walk is a place of death with a few confirmed suicides; so maybe it is haunted but for other reasons. What is Dead Man's Hill? I've never heard of it and I've been there many times. This is the problem with cases like this, they always open up more questions.

But what of the hooves people claim to hear? Well, I think the answer to that one is explained in this photo:

Francis Firth: https://www.francisfrith.com/andover/andover-ladies-walk-and-iron-bridge-1904_52151

So my lovelies, what do we think? Shall I gather some unfortunate souls and drag them along for a cheeky little ghost hunt? Maybe, if this post gets enough attention!

Anyway, that's Ladies Walk. The history of Andover is pretty interesting if you go digging...

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As always, stay safe, stay hopeful and stay blessed :)

References:

*https://www.testvalley.gov.uk/communityandleisure/naturereserves/ladies-walk

https://www.komoot.com/smarttour/4071091

https://www.dreamstime.com/neilbussey_info

https://www.facebook.com/SIAoriginal/posts/does-anyone-know-the-story-of-the-white-lady-who-hung-herself-at-ladies-walk-bri/1557176497698013/

https://www.komoot.com/user/853355579983

https://www.francisfrith.com/andover/andover-ladies-walk-and-iron-bridge-1904_52151

 

All my work and more is posted on my Vocal account where I am more active, which you can find here: https://vocal.media/fyi/let-s-talk-ladies-walk

 

@NuttallJasmin

 

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RosieJSargent
RosieJSargent

@NuttallJasmin


The Writers Bloc
The Writers Bloc

A blog for all my creative work :) This work is also available on my Vocal page: https://vocal.media/authors/laura-jasmin-nuttall-mama-l

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