After a few years frantic activity in the name of his country, Sir Ralph returned from a spell in prison in
to his manor house near Scotland Chester-le-Street in 1389 and obtained permission to convert the said building into a
castle. This he did, though, as chance would have it, he fell out of royal
favour and ended up losing his head in 1400.
During one of his absences from his new abode, two Catholic priests are said to have confronted his wife, Lily, to question her about her failure to embrace ‘the Faith’. When she again refused to comply, it is said that the two clerics grabbed her and threw her down the castle well to her death – presumably in an attempt to save her soul.
Realising the trouble that they were now in, they hatched a cunning plan to extricate themselves from the unlikely predicament. They made haste to a nearby village, ‘borrowed’ a sick young woman and took her to a local nunnery. As expected, she soon died and the priests managed to persuade Sir Ralph that the woman was his wife, and that whilst he’d been away she’d decided to become a nun.
Gullible Sir Ralph appears to have swallowed the story and that seems to have been the end of it. But, of course, the ghost of Lily lives on, and has, from time to time, been known to drift up from the depths of the well and wander the corridors of the castle.
A quick glance at the records, however, would suggest that Sir Ralph Lumley never even married a woman by the name of Lily…
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