The Ghost Of Rosewarne
Categories: GHOST STORIES FROM LOCAL RECORDS, FOLK LORE AND LEGEND
Scary Books: The Haunters & The Haunted
: HUNT'S "Romances of the West of England"
"Ezekiel Grosse, gent., attorney-at-law," bought the lands of Rosewarne
from one of the De Rosewarnes, who had become involved in debt by
endeavouring, without sufficient means, to support the dignity of his
family. There is reason for believing that Ezekiel was the legal adviser
of this unfortunate Rosewarne, and that he was not over-honest in his
transactions with his client. However this may be, Ezekiel Grosse had
arcely made Rosewarne his dwelling-place, before he was alarmed by
noises, at first of an unearthly character, and subsequently, one very
dark night, by the appearance of the ghost himself in the form of a worn
and aged man. The first appearance was in the park, but he subsequently
repeated his visits in the house, but always after dark. Ezekiel Grosse
was not a man to be terrified at trifles, and for some time he paid but
slight attention to his nocturnal visitor. Howbeit the repetition of
visits, and certain mysterious indications on the part of the ghost,
became annoying to Ezekiel. One night, when seated in his office
examining some deeds, and being rather irritable, having lost an
important suit, his visitor approached him, making some strange
indications which the lawyer could not understand. Ezekiel suddenly
exclaimed, "In the name of God, what wantest thou?"
"To show thee, Ezekiel Grosse, where the gold for which thou longest
No one ever lived upon whom the greed of gold was stronger than on
Ezekiel, yet he hesitated now that his spectral friend had spoken so
plainly, and trembled in every limb as the ghost slowly delivered
himself in sepulchral tones of this telling speech.
The lawyer looked fixedly on the spectre; but he dared not utter a word.
He longed to obtain possession of the secret, yet he feared to ask him
where he was to find this treasure. The spectre looked as fixedly at the
poor trembling lawyer, as if enjoying the sight of his terror. At
length, lifting his finger, he beckoned Ezekiel to follow him, turning
at the same time to leave the room. Ezekiel was glued to his seat; he
could not exert strength enough to move, although he desired to do so.
"Come!" said the ghost, in a hollow voice. The lawyer was powerless to
"Gold!" exclaimed the old man, in a whining tone, though in a louder
"Where?" gasped Ezekiel.
"Follow me, and I will show thee," said the ghost. Ezekiel endeavoured
to rise; but it was in vain.
"I command thee, come!" almost shrieked the ghost. Ezekiel felt that he
was compelled to follow his friend; and by some supernatural power
rather than his own, he followed the spectre out of the room, and
through the hall, into the park.
They passed onward through the night--the ghost gliding before the
lawyer, and guiding him by a peculiar phosphorescent light, which
appeared to glow from every part of the form, until they arrived at a
little dell, and had reached a small cairn formed of granite boulders.
By this the spectre rested; and when Ezekiel had approached it, and was
standing on the other side of the cairn, still trembling, the aged man,
looking fixedly in his face, said, in low tones, "Ezekiel Grosse, thou
longest for gold, as I did. I won the glittering prize, but I could not
enjoy it. Heaps of treasure are buried beneath those stones; it is
thine, if thou diggest for it. Win the gold, Ezekiel. Glitter with the
wicked ones of the world; and when thou art the most joyous, I will look
in upon thy happiness." The ghost then disappeared, and as soon as
Grosse could recover himself from the extreme trepidation,--the result
of mixed feelings,--he looked about him, and finding himself alone, he
exclaimed, "Ghost or devil, I will soon prove whether or not thou
liest!" Ezekiel is said to have heard a laugh, echoing between the
hills, as he said those words.
The lawyer noted well the spot; returned to his house; pondered on all
the circumstances of his case; and eventually resolved to seize the
earliest opportunity, when he might do so unobserved, of removing the
stones, and examining the ground beneath them.
A few nights after this, Ezekiel went to the little cairn, and by the
aid of a crowbar, he soon overturned the stones, and laid the ground
bare. He then commenced digging, and had not proceeded far when his
spade struck against some other metal. He carefully cleared away the
earth, and he then felt--for he could not see, having no light with
him--that he had uncovered a metallic urn of some kind. He found it
quite impossible to lift it, and he was therefore compelled to cover it
up again, and to replace the stones sufficiently to hide it from the
observation of any chance wanderer.
The next night Ezekiel found that this urn, which was of bronze,
contained gold coins of a very ancient date. He loaded himself with his
treasure, and returned home. From time to time, at night, as Ezekiel
found he could do so without exciting the suspicions of his servants, he
visited the urn, and thus by degrees removed all the treasure to
Rosewarne House. There was nothing in the series of circumstances which
had surrounded Ezekiel which he could less understand than the fact,
that the ghost of the old man had left off troubling him from the moment
when he had disclosed to him the hiding-place of this treasure.
The neighbouring gentry could not but observe the rapid improvements
which Ezekiel Grosse made in his mansion, his grounds, in his personal
appearance, and indeed in everything by which he was surrounded. In a
short time he abandoned the law, and led in every respect the life of a
country gentleman. He ostentatiously paraded his power to procure all
earthly enjoyments, and, in spite of his notoriously bad character, he
succeeded in drawing many of the landed proprietors around him.
Things went well with Ezekiel. The man who could in those days visit
London in his own carriage and four was not without a large circle of
flatterers. The lawyer who had struggled hard, in the outset of life, to
secure wealth, and who did not always employ the most honest means for
doing so, now found himself the centre of a circle to whom he could
preach honesty, and receive from them expressions of the admiration in
which the world holds the possessor of gold. His old tricks were
forgotten, and he was put in places of honour. This state of things
continued for some time; indeed, Grosse's entertainments became more and
more splendid, and his revels more and more seductive to those he
admitted to share them with him. The Lord of Rosewarne was the Lord of
the West. To him everyone bowed the knee: he walked the earth as the
proud possessor of a large share of the planet.
It was Christmas Eve, and a large gathering there was at Rosewarne. In
the hall the ladies and gentlemen were in the full enjoyment of the
dance, and in the kitchen all the tenantry and the servants were
emulating their superiors. Everything went joyously; but when the mirth
was in full swing, and Ezekiel felt to the full the influence of wealth,
it appeared as if all in a moment the chill of death had fallen over
everyone. The dancers paused, and looked one at another, each one struck
with the other's paleness; and there, in the middle of the hall,
everyone saw a strange old man looking angrily, but in silence, at
Ezekiel Grosse, who was fixed in terror, blank as a statue.
No one had seen this old man enter the hall, yet there he was in the
midst of them. It was but for a minute, and he was gone. Ezekiel, as if
a frozen torrent of water had thawed in an instant, recovered himself,
and roared at them.
"What do you think of that for a Christmas play? Ha, ha, ha! How
frightened you all look! Butler, hand round the spiced wines! On with
the dancing, my friends! It was only a trick, ay, and a clever one,
which I have put upon you. On with your dancing, my friends!"
But with all his boisterous attempts to restore the spirit of the
evening, Ezekiel could not succeed. There was an influence stronger than
any he could command; and one by one, framing sundry excuses, his guests
took their departure, every one of them satisfied that all was not right
From that Christmas Eve Grosse was a changed man. He tried to be his
former self; but it was in vain. Again and again he called his gay
companions around him; but at every feast there appeared one more than
was desired. An aged man--weird beyond measure--took his place at the
table in the middle of the feast; and although he spoke not, he exerted
a miraculous power over all. No one dared to move; no one ventured to
speak. Occasionally Ezekiel assumed an appearance of courage, which he
felt not; rallied his guests, and made sundry excuses for the presence
of his aged friend, whom he represented as having a mental infirmity,
as being deaf and dumb. On all such occasions the old man rose from the
table, and looking at the host, laughed a demoniac laugh of joy, and
departed as quietly as he came.
The natural consequence of this was that Ezekiel Grosse's friends fell
away from him, and he became a lonely man, amidst his vast
possessions--his only companion being his faithful clerk, John Call.
The persecuting presence of the spectre became more and more constant;
and wherever the poor lawyer went, there was the aged man at his side.
From being one of the finest men in the county, he became a miserably
attenuated and bowed old man. Misery was stamped on every
feature--terror was indicated in every movement. At length he appears to
have besought his ghostly attendant to free him of his presence. It was
long before the ghost would listen to any terms; but when Ezekiel at
length agreed to surrender the whole of his wealth to anyone whom the
spectre might indicate, he obtained a promise that upon this being
carried out, in a perfectly legal manner, in favour of John Call, that
he should no longer be haunted.
This was, after numerous struggles on the part of Ezekiel to retain his
property, or at least some portion of it, legally settled, and John Call
became possessor of Rosewarne and the adjoining lands. Grosse was then
informed that this evil spirit was one of the ancestors of the
Rosewarne, from whom by his fraudulent dealings he obtained the place,
and that he was allowed to visit the earth again for the purpose of
inflicting the most condign punishment on the avaricious lawyer. His
avarice had been gratified, his pride had been pampered to the highest;
and then he was made a pitiful spectacle, at whom all men pointed, and
no one pitied. He lived on in misery, but it was for a short time. He
was found dead; and the country people ever said that his death was a
violent one; they spoke of marks on his body, and some even asserted
that the spectre of De Rosewarne was seen rejoicing amidst a crowd of
devils, as they bore the spirit of Ezekiel over Carn Brea.