Lady Howard of Tavistock

Lady Howard of Tavistock

I’m Mary with a story, which many a folk could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who condemn us all to hell

My own tale is a cursed one, that’s told from days of yore
Five hundred long years I’ve travelled, across the wild Dartmoor
In a ghostly ghastly carriage made from the bones of six dead men
It carries me nightly and forever to Oakhampton and home again
Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House to Oak Castle I’m doomed to always must go
Until the ends of time, fetching forth one blade of grass
The green mound there will never be bare: my curse will never pass

I’ll begin at the beginning, with the bones of him died first
John Fitz - once Lord of Fitzford House, our home is now with me cursed
Daddy John inherited a vast fortune, but our fortune was brief
Riches drove him insane and set my path: an eternity of grief
The Fitzford wealth it earnt him more enemies than silver groats
He killed friend and foe, his craz’d mind hooked on slitting rivals’ throats
Those who spill it soon come to learn, blood can’t be washed with gold
I found him slain - by his own hand - I’m an orphan, nine years old

Alone, young, rich and female, I need protecting from false claims
How naïve to think my earthly saviour would be righteous King James
Pious bastard sold me like a chattel to the Earl of Northumberland
Was only a child when he tired of me and gave his brother my wedded hand
Abused and trapped and frightened, like the poor creatures he hunted for glory
I beseeched Mother Earth and all of her beasts to remove him from my story
Nature is red in tooth and claw, soon horn and hoof his gizzards gore
Hunter is hunted and dead man two, I’m your prey no more

I’m Mary with a story that many a folk could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who drive us all to hell

So I elope with my secret sweetheart, clandestine marriage to fair Thomas
My life it finally felt full of hope, future brimming with such promise
But you’ve guessed by now that this isn’t a tale where happiness will last
Just a few months of joy ‘til trag-edy when my one true love he passed
The pain and grieving will never stop for my Tom who died third
Was still in black weeds and just sixteen when forced to wed John Howard
From this scrounging scoundrel hid my every penny: “Sir do you not love me poor?”
His answer stays as unknown as his cause of death - this dead man number four

I’m Mary with a story that many a folk could tell,
Of the men you love, and those you don’t, who take us all to hell

I rue the day fate fixed my date with final husband Sir Richard Grenville
Used fire and fists to harm me, locked me up against my will
Star Chamber found him vile and violent sent him straight to Lydford Gaol
On escaping he revelled in torment and terror on a such much larger scale
When brother turned against brother and England she was bleeding
‘Twas turncoat Rich warred for both sides as General and was leading
Parliament ‘gainst Royals and vice versa ’til no troops were left alive
This traitor, skellum, Gren-villain is the bones of dead man five

I’m way past the point of white weddings now, I’ll only take a lover
Although as a wife I’ve truly failed, I try and be a better mother
Head home to Tavistock with George my boy, but me and luck don’t mix
The Fates they deal my last mortal blow and make my baby dead man six
My heart and earthly body breaks, soul taken, no longer my own
I’m cast as a black widow, with a black dog to match, in a carriage made from bone

Betwixt the strike of midnight and the dawn’s first cock’rel crow
From Fitzford House to Oak Castle I’m doomed to always must go
Until the ends of time, fetching forth one blade of grass
The green mound there will never be bare: my curse will never pass

Legends unfair to the fairer sex, especially the bold, the brave and the beautiful
It warns all of us throughout all time to be decent, dull and dutiful
I’m a women with a story, but aren’t all our sex damned as well?
Leave those men - and your life - behind you my sisters, come and ride with me to hell…

anna jones ©2017

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Devonshire_Characters_and_Strange_Events/Lady_Howard
anna at Oakhampton Castle

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: