Dun-cow of Warwick
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Marchioness Townshend & Maude Ffoulkes
True Ghost Stories
The Dun Cow of Warwick
My last authentic ghost story is about the famous Dun Cow of Warwick. The legend is well known and can be found in any topographical history of Warwick dealing with the days of the semi-legendary hero, Sir Guy of Warwick.
This ghost story was told me, and vouched for, by the late Dowager Marchioness of Downshire (a relation of the Greville family) when I was staying at Easthampstead Park in 1889.
Lady Downshire said that when she and Lord Downshire were on a visit to Warwick Castle (I forget in what year), the then Lady Warwick mentioned casually that fresh turf had been laid down on a grass plot under the windows of the rooms allotted to the Downshires. “And,” she added, “ I hope no one will walk on it till it has taken good root.”
It was glorious summer weather, and when Lady Downshire, who was feeling the heat oppressive, got up at dawn to open the window, she saw, to her astonishment, a dun-coloured cow trampling over the newly laid turf and tried to shoo away the heavy-hoofed intruder, who took not the slightest notice of their united command to “keep off the grass”.
“Must have escaped from a herd in the park,” said Lord Downshire, preparatory to resuming his interrupted slumbers. “But won’t Lady Warwick be furious when she finds the turf ruined, as it’s bound to be after that uprooting. Damned carelessness, I call it.”
Judge for yourself Lady Downshire’s feelings when next morning no hoof-marks were visible, and the lovely turf, sparkling with dew, was unspoilt!
At breakfast, which represents the one meal of the day relegated to bills and general unpleasantness, which, in my opinion, should always be partaken alone, Lady Downshire, knowing nothing of the legend that the Dun Cow always appeared before a death in the Warwick family, innocently related her experience, backed up by her husband’s evidence. Lord Downshire, who was still “difficult” from loss of sleep, enlarged rather forcibly on the occurrence, due to the carelessness of those who allowed dun cows to go astray, regardless of Lady Warwick’s frantic pantomime signifying: “Stop – at once!” And he could not understand why unrelieved gloom fell on the breakfast-table.
Afterwards Lady Warwick confided to Lady Downshire that she had seen the spectral cow. “And you will hear very shortly that one or another of us has passed away,” said her tearful hostess.
Her words proved only too true. A few weeks later Lord Warwick died.
The source of the experienceOrdinary person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps