Twelfth Night Ghost Story: The White Lady Of Flamborough
In the spirit of Twelfth Night one of Ancient Origins Premium’s favorite storytellers Charles Christian, entertains with his Father’s Ghost Story: I may have mentioned before I am sufficiently ancient to recall the Christmastides of my youth. I grew up in the 1950s on the Yorkshire coast, in the town of Scarborough, when television was not the pervasive force it became in later decades. When people, as the old cliché holds, still made their own entertainment. Later on in an evening, with the main lights switched off and perhaps only a standard-lamp in the corner of the room and some candles on the mantelpiece to provide any illumination, we would sit around an open coal fire and there we would tell ghost stories. We would also munch on nuts and dried dates and, in the case of the adults, sip medium-dry Amontillado sherry. I would probably be drinking Dandelion & Burdock-flavored fizzy pop.
It was mainly my grandmother and any visiting uncles staying with us over Christmas season who would hold forth with the stories, however I do remember the year my father told a ghost story. It was during a Twelfth Night party and it was a story he himself had been told many years earlier by one of his great-uncles. To this day I still do not know whether it classes as true ghost story – or just a spooky coincidence.
Sampson Christian holding the author’s father Jack Christian circa 1923 (Image © Charles Christian)
The Fishermen Jack And Sam Christian
By way of setting the scene my father was born in the early 1920s and, for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with this story, he was brought up by his maternal grandmother Maria. Maria had two older brothers-in-law, John Wyrill Christian (always known as Jack) and Sampson Henry Christian (also known as Sam). Both were fishermen and both had earned a degree of notoriety within the local community, with people unable to decide whether they were saints or sinners.
The Evening News recalling Jack and Sam’s antics in the harbor (Image © Charles Christian)
I still have newspaper clippings in the family records in which Jack and Sam were either being lauded as heroes for rescuing people by pulling them out of the harbor or else condemned as drunken troublemakers for throwing people into the harbor. In one magistrates court case a character witness described them as “ sober men who never fought unless provoked.” Very reminiscent of the line in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick that it is ‘ Better [to] sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.’
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Charles Christian is an English barrister and Reuters correspondent turned writer,
award-winning tech journalist, and podcaster with a soft spot for history. He was born
a ‘chime child’ with a caul so, according to legend, cannot drown at sea but can see
and talk to ghosts and fairy folk without fear of coming to harm – allegedly! Check out Charles Christian’s latest venture: the Weird Tales Show video channel on YouTube, dedicated to tales of haunted landscapes, gothic spaces, mythic places, folklore, the supernatural, folk horror and other weirdness. https://www.youtube.com/c/WeirdTalesShow/
Top Image: A Twelfth Night Feast: 'The King drinks' by Jan Steen (1661) Royal Collection (Public Domain)