The Phantom Coach of the Turbervilles
Location: Woolbridge Manor, Wool
So you have not seen the blood-stained family coach of the Turbervilles?
The story goes that in the reign of James I, John Turberville, Esq. eloped in a carriage and four with Lady Anne Howard, daughter of Viscount Bindon.
That is all there is to the story but popular tradition is associated with a spectral coach and four horses that drives from Wool Bridge House in the gloom of the evening and makes its way with great pace towards Bindon Abbey.
It is alleged that no one can see the coach unless they have Turberville blood in their veins.
The following is an alleged true story:
Many years ago a Wool Clergyman invited a gentleman from Wiltshire to stay with him.
His visitor, who arrived late on a dark night in December, had driven from Wareham in his carriage. When he reached his host's house he asked whether any of the neighbouring gentry had a coach and four.
"Why no," replied his host. " No one in the whole neighbourhood has a coach and four in these days."
"Well, somebody must have," said the Wiltshire gentleman, "because when coming to you in my carriage I saw an old fashioned four-in-hand with out-riders being driven at a great rate. To whom does it belong?"
The Parson looked at him curiously. "No one round here has such a coach ," he said. "you surely must have seen the Turberville coach. But there's an old story connected with it that no one possible can see this Turberville coach unless he has the family blood in his veins."
"In the reign of James I my ancestor, Phillip married Margaret Turberville,
niece of the old Squire of Woolbridge," replied the guest to his host's astonishment.
Woolbridge Manor, was made famous as the location for Thomas Hardy's novel 'Tess of the D'urbevilles'.
'This condition of mind, wherein she felt glorified by an irradiation not her own, like the angel whom St John saw in the sun, lasted till the sounds of the church bells had died away, and the emotions of the wedding-service had calmed down. Her eyes could dwell upon details more clearly now, and Mr and Mrs Crick having directed their own gig t9 be sent for them, to leave the carriage to the young couple, she observed the build and character of that conveyance for the first time. Sitting in silence she regarded it long.
'I fancy you seem oppressed, Tessy,' said Clare.
'Yes,' she answered, putting her hand to her brow. 'I tremble at many things. It is all so serious, Angel. Among other things I seem to have seen this carriage before, to be very well acquainted with it. It is very odd - I must have seen it in a dream.'
'Oh - you have heard the legend of the d'Urberville Coach - that well-known superstition of this county about your family when they were very popular here; and this lumbering old thing reminds you of it.'
'I have never heard of it to my knowledge,' said she. 'What is the legend - may I know it?'
'Well - I would rather not tell it in detail just now. A certain. d'Urberville of the sixteenth or seventeenth century committed a dreadful crime in his family coach; and since that time members of, the family see or hear the old coach whenever- But I'll tell you another day - it is rather gloomy. Evidently some dim knowledge of it has been brought back to your mind by the sight of this venerable caravan.'
'I don't remember hearing it before,' she murmured. 'Is it when we are going to die, Angel, that members of my family see it, or is it when we have committed a crime?'
He silenced her by a kiss.
The following account of the phantom coach is mentioned in 'Thomas Hardy's Dorset' by R. Thurston Hopkins in 1922.
"Then I asked Gover about the Turberville ghost which we are told hounts this lane, and which is the subject of an allusion in Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. His keen old face became serious at once. No ghosts or goblins had troubled him, he said, but John Rawless and another chap saw as plain as could be a funeral going along from Woolbridge House to Bere Regis, and they heard the priest singing in front of the coffin, but they could not understand what he did say. There was a cattle gate across the road in those days and Rawles ran to open it, but before he could get there the coffin had passed through the gate and it had all vanished: He had often heard tell of people who had seen ghosts, and he would not be put about if he did see one himself.
"So you have not seen the blood-stained family coach of the Turbervilles?", I inquired.
"No, I never see that," said Gover, shaking his head, "nor never heard of it."
"Then , as it is a tale that every child should know," I said, "I will tell you now, and you shall believe it or no, precisely as you choose. Once upon a time there was a Turberville who deserves to be remembered and to be called, so to speak, the limb of the 'old 'un' himself, for he spent all his days in wickedness, and went roaring to the devil as fast as all his vices could send him. I have heard it said that he snapped his fingers in the face of a good parson who came to see him on his death-bed, saying he did not wish to talk balderdash, or to hear it, and bade him clear out and send up his servant with fighting-cooks and a bottle of brandy. Gradually all the drinking and vice, which had besieged his soul for so long, swept him into a state of temporary madness and he murdered a friend while they were riding to Woolbridge House in the family coach. The friend he struck down had Turberville blood in his veins too, so you may be certain the blame was not all on one side. Ever since the evil night the coach with the demon horses dragging it sways and rocks along the road between Wool and Bere, and the murderer rushes after it, moaning and wringing his hands, but never naving the fortune to catch it up. The spectacle of the haunted coach cannot be seen by the ordinary wayfarer; it is only to be seen by persons in which blood of the Turberville is mixed."
"Ah!" nodded old Gover, "I don't hold with that story. If so be as that 'ere Turberville who murdered t'other hev a-gone up above, 'tain't likely as how he'll be wishful to go rowstering after that ripping great coach on a dalled bad road like this." And then he shook his bony finger in my face and added: "And if the dowl have a-got hold on 'im he won't be able to go gallyvanting about - he'll be kept there!"