By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
The village of Bradley in Lincolnshire, England has existed since medieval times, and no one is sure when the Black Lady made her appearance. She became so well known that parents in Bradley and the surrounding area, would scare their children that they should behave or the Black Lady would come and get them.
One theory as to her identity is that she is the ghost of a nun. Approximately two miles away, is Nunsthorpe where a convent was located at the Priory of St. Leonard, an Austin nunnery, probably founded by Henry II before 1184, and placed under the protection of the Austin canons.
One of the poorest and obscure houses of the order, in 1296 the nuns had to beg alms to support themselves. There are notices in 1337 and 1356 of the absolution of nuns of Grimsby—one for apostacy, another for a breach of chastity.
The buildings suffered from fire damage in 1311, and in 1459 it was burnt and flooded. In 1538, during the Reformation, Henry VIII closed the two friaries in Grimsby. The nunnery and priory followed in 1539.
By the 13th century, there was also a leper hostel at Grimsby, run by the church. Franciscan friars also known as grey friars arrived in Grimsby in 1240. Austin or white friars arrived in 1293.
The nunnery stood outside Grimsby at the crossroads to Louth and Laceby, which is still called "The Nuns". The Nuns' Farm House, which stood on the site, was demolished about 1952.
The land the priory was situated on was the site of an earlier monastery, which was founded by St. Wilfrid in 658, and destroyed by the Danes when they invaded the area. William the Conqueror and the Bishop of Durham refounded it in 1082, as the Priory of St. Leonard.
The sightings have always been of a tall, young lady with a tearful, stricken face, clothed in a black cloak with a hood over her hair, walking through the woods near Bradley.
Maybe the lady was a young nun keeping a secret assignation in these woods, far enough from prying eyes at the convent, but close enough for her to walk there.
One of the most well-known stories associated with the Black Lady of Bradley Woods is set during the time of the War of the Roses, or the Baron's War. A woodsman and his wife and baby son lived in a cottage in the woods of the village of Bradley. However, the woodsman was recruited to be in the army of the Earl of Yarborough. Days and months passed, and the husband did not return. The wife, however, continued waiting for him with their baby in the entrance of the woods.
Time came when the enemy's army has started to cross the Humber. The wife, with the baby in her arms, tried to escape, however, three hobilars blocked her way. They raped the woman and took her baby away. Shamed and ruined, the woman continued to search for her husband and baby son even after death.
Most people in the village believe that if you go to the woods on Christmas Eve and say, “Black lady, black lady, I’ve stolen your baby” three times, the black lady will appear to you.
The Black Lady has been seen by motorists who pass through the woods. She is said to be seen standing near the entrance of the woods. Some have reported that they’ve seen a lady run in front of their car. When they come out to see who they’ve hit, there was no one there.
A few relate seeing the lady in a form of a mist. They tried to follow it, but it led them to St. George’s church, where the lady disappeared through the door, even if there wasn’t really a door there. Some say that they’ve only seen a strange light appearing on the bend, while a couple saw a lady dressed in clothing dating to the 1800’s in different shades of gray.
Perhaps the Black Lady was a victim of the bubonic plague. In 2016, a team discovered a 14th century Black Death burial pit containing 48 skeletons, including 21 children, at the site of a monastery hospital at Thornton Abbey. This place is approximately five miles from Bradley Woods, and the disease is documented to have reached Lincolnshire in the spring of 1349.
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