First, I have to get this out of the way. Whenever I hear the name “Bruce,” my mind sings it with a rolling “r” and a lot of “s’s” at the end. And then, the words “don’t bring me down” also accompany the thought. Now, perhaps you already know that when the Electric Light Orchestra wrote the song in 1979, the words in the lyrics were actually “Groos,” but because so many people (including me) were sure they heard Jeff Lynne sing “Bruce,” he actually started singing it as “Bruce” when he was live in concert.
Now, with that out of the way, we can return to our regularly scheduled Freaky Friday.
So, the story of Bruce Castle is straight out of the pages of a gothic mystery. We have the rich and handsome 2nd Lord Coleraine, who is also known as Henry Hare (always be wary of men named after rabbits), whose father mysteriously died from choking on a turkey bone. Henry inherits Bruce Castle and woos the delightful and beautiful Lady Constantia Lucy.
However, Henry soon grows tired of his young wife, and rumor has it that he becomes very interested in the Duchess of Somerset, who is also married at the time. (Henry and the Duchess were actually an item before their marriages.) Constantia is an obstacle in the way of his true love (or lust, as the case may be), so he decides to lock her away on the top floor of the castle. That doesn’t improve the relationship, so Henry decides to lock her away under the clock tower in a small room. Not only is the room tiny, but the huge clock above her is tick-tocking away 24/7. So, eventually, Lady Constantia Lucy is driven to madness.
Unable to take it any longer, Lady Constantia Lucy decides to jump off the balcony. There are two versions of the story. One states that she jumped off the balcony holding her child, Hugh, killing them both. The other states that she jumped off, killing herself and her unborn child. (So, um, it seems that Henry wasn’t totally unhappy with the lady.)
SpookyIsles.com states, “Her screams were said to have awoken the servants that were sleeping. As they ran outside to see where the screams had come from, they found her lifeless body on the floor below the clock tower.
All the evidence pointed to the death of Lady Constantia Lucy as being an act of suicide. However, the plot thickens. Around the same time that Constantia died, the Duchess of Somerset also became a widow, and she and Henry married a short time after. (Somebody check and see if the Duke of Somerset choked on a turkey bone.)
Though there are no official records relating to the death of Constantia, it’s thought that she was buried in All Hallow Church.
According to the Express “The first time that Lady Constantia Lucy’s spirit was documented and sighted around Bruce Castle was almost 200 years later after she had died in the Tottenham & Edmonton Advertiser.
Extracts from this historic newspaper report, published in March 1858, that an Indian Officer asked a lady from Tottenham visiting the Grade I listed building if they knew of the ghost of Bruce Castle.
It tells readers that on the night of the anniversary when her ladyship died, around November, a “wild form can be seen as she stood on the fatal parapet, and her despairing cry is heard floating away on the autumnal blast.””
Ever since her death, locals have witnessed strange phenomena at and around the castle. From unexplained happenings at the castle, which is now a museum, to eerie shadows and the sounds of a woman screaming in the night.
I can imagine her screams in my mind. “Will someone please turn off the damn clock!?!?!?!”