A Ghost of Pevensey.
The Old Mint House stands in the High street, which is almost as historical a building as the Castle itself. As it stands to-day, it is only some six hundred vears old, but the site is believed to have been used as a Norman mint as long ago as A.D. 1076. The present building was not erected until 1342.
It is a typical large half-timbered country house of the period, with no fewer than twentv-eight rooms, all rich in oak beams in an excellent state of preservation. Edward IV stayed here in 1548 for the benefit of his health, and many are the thrilling incidents the old house has seen. It has, indeed, all the features of the authentic romance of age - subterranean passages and haunted room complete!
And this is the ghost story, It is one of the featured attractions of the house !
In 1586, it seems, a certain London merchant named Thomas Dight rented the Old Mint House from its then owner, and came to live in Pevensey with his mistress. All went well until one night Dight entered the house unexpectedly, to find the lady in the arms of a rival lover.
Furious with jealousy, Dight had them both seized, and, having cut out the woman's tongue, and bound her, hung the lover in chains from the ceiling and then had a fire lighted underneath him, compelling the woman to watch his death agonies as he died slowly from the smoke and heat.
Then, this pleasant amusement completed, Dight had the woman carried to an upper room and left, still with hands and feet tied, to die a lingering death of starvation. Her body was afterwards buried somewhere in or near the building.
This, then, is the lady who is now supposed to "haunt" the old house, though whether she makes it an annual visit or drops in more frequently is not on record ! But it is said that not many years ago a gentleman volunteered to spend a night in the haunted room to investigate—and did see a spectre—or thought he did—whichever you like to believe.
This, at any rate, is what he wrote about it afterwards:
. . . Having locked the door as a precaution against practical jokes, I laid down upon the couch my host had provided, but did not undress. Nothing happened, and after some time I fell asleep, but was soon disturbed by a peculiar tapping noise. It was a metallic sound occurring at irregular intervals, and seemed to come from the vicinity of the window.
Glancing in this direction I was, I must admit, rather startled to see a face pressed against the outside of the diamond-paned window. I cried involuntarily, and the " something " immediately passed through and stood near the foot of my couch, although I know that the window was securely fastened when I retired.
I was able to see the figure quite distinctly, and it was that of a young woman in a very old-fashioned dress. " She " wore a close-fitting bodice with tight sleeves, and the dress was very full upon the hips. a costume similar to that in which Queen Elizabeth is often portrayed. but with a smaller ruff around the neck.
" She " also wore a head-dress which appeared to be of stiffened lace. I am sorry that I did not notice the " lady's " actual features or expression, as after a few seconds she moved over towards the window again, and I felt so unnerved at her presence that I took the opportunity to fling myself off the sofa and rush out to awaken my host.
"I distinctly remember that the door was still locked when I reached it, and that when I returned with my host and his friend the window had not been tampered with, as some threads that I had fastened across it before retiring were unbroken."
So there you are. Take it or leave it. Wether it's true on not, it gives you the atmosphere of this charming old place - the oldest house in and around Pevensey as it is claimed to be.