Do you ever get that De ja Vue feeling ?,
Go to Gatcombe Church on a stormy night and you just might !.
When Marc Tuckey tells you to go to some place you’d better sit up and take notice. This man knows the Islands Spooky stories better than anyone else. And so it was one bright winters morning that we took ourselves out to the old church…
But what was it that we where suppose to be investigating ?, a ghost perhaps ??. No, Gatcombe church holds a much darker secret.. TIME TRAVEL !.
The legend of time travel at the old church is certainly well known, infact it has been investigated by many researchers over the years – even the BBC. Do a GOOGLE search for Lucy Lightfoot, you’ll be overwhelmed with the results it brings up.
Best I get on with the actual legend…
Lucy Lightfoot aged just 17- lived with her father and 2 brothers, in the cosy little village of Gatcombe. Although Lucy was a popular girl, recently she had developed quite a strange fixation on a wooden effigy of Edward Estur – (a former Crusader Knight) – at the local church. She would regularly be seen entering the church, for no other reason than to stare for hours on end – at the Knight.
Edward Estur had died in Palestine in the year 1303, the full sized effigy – curved out of oak, laid out across his tomb. A ‘lodestone’ jewel had been cast into the hilt of the sword. A carving of his faithful dog had been placed around his feet.
Lucy could not explain her actions to others, only that.. it was a powerful force that would pull her to the effigy. She felt very comfortable around the Knight, it was as though a powerful bond existed.
We move on now.. to 13th June 1831, its around 10.00 am – on a hot sticky morning. Thunderclouds where starting to gather above, but that didn’t stop Lucy – who so desperately felt the pull of Knight.
Tethering her horse up outside the church, Lucy looked up at the threatening clouds. Something very strange was happening all around her.. it was getting darker than it should have been.. the surrounding woodlands where strangely missing of all birds and wildlife. Infact quite a rarity was taking place in the sky above.. A total ellipse of the sun had begun to pass its cold, deathly shadow across the Island.
The storm had also decided to make its mark !, hail rained down on the church, lightening lit up the skies above, brightening the ever darkening clouds covering the eclipse. Lucy knew she would be safe inside the church with the Knight.
Lightening danced around the church, perhaps even striking it !.. time passed.
It wasnt till a few hours later, when the storm had run its course and the eclipse had passed – that people dared to venture outside once again.
By now Lucy’s horse, still teathered up outside the church – was in quite a state. Two local people from the village of Gatcombe happened to notice the distressed horse, and came over to carm the animal down. Luckly one of the group reconized the horse as that ridden by Lucy. Both men entered the church, thinking that Lucy must still be taking shelter inside.
But there was no Lucy to be found !. Even more strange was that the lodestone was missing from the sword, tiny fragments of dust could be found around the base of the effigy.
A search ws conducted of the area was conducted lasting many months, but no evidence of what had become of Lucy was found. Lucy’s father and brothers where heartbroken..
But the story doesnt just end there !
In 1865 a Methodist Minister from the Scilly Isles had been researching the Crusades, when he stumbled upon a document written by the Chancellor to the King of Cyprus dated 1297. It contained details of an English Knight called Edward Estur, accompanied by a ‘brave and beautiful women; called Lucy Lightfoot from the District of Carrisbrooke Castle !. (Carrisbrooke Castle is the main castle of the Isle of Wight, very close to Gatcombe)
It was recorded that embedded wiithin the hilt of the sword was a lodestone !.
The legend of Lucy Lightfoot goes far beyond what I have written here, infact Marc Tuckey is quite an expert with this location. It’s from here that Marc Tuckey takes the story over..
If we can for one moment take the story beyond what may have just happened.
Unfortunately Lucy didnt quite have the happy life with the Knight Edward, that she craved. Edward sustained a servere head injury in battle. With no recollection of who he was, or where he was – he was shipped back to England to recover. Unfortunately Lucy was not told of this, instead under the impression that he was killed in battle.
Years passed, Sir Edward never did recover fully, but Lucy.. well.. she remarried a local scilian and lived the rest of years as the wife of a farmer.
So what did happen on that morning ?, did Lucy Lightfoot really travel back in time ??, was she somehow drawn to the Knight from a previous life. The lodestone has long been associated with magnetic forces, perhaps this somehow contributed to the events that took place that morning.
I guess we will never know the true facts, too much time has passed – but that didnt stop us from investigating the myth.
So thats the myth..
One sunny winters afternoon last year, we took a trip out there for ourselves – but just what would we find ?
It’s a very pretty church, hidden away between a small copse and Gatcombe Manor grounds. But its only when you get close up that you realise that there are some very strange features to the church itself. Look close up and you cant help but notice the unusual amount of gargoyles decorating the exterior.
These are not just winged monsters, but images of devils and spirits – not quite the kind of thing you’d expect to find on a church !. I took a sweep with the EMF meter around the grounds, as this has been mentioned as a theory on past investigations. Apparently the grounds are quite magnetic – only my EMF meter was not picking up anything out of the ordinary.
If you over 5 foot tall, expect to have to crouch down !, Is this the UK’s smallest church door ?. It certainly seemed like it.
Once inside, you cant help to notice that the church is well loved, and looked after by the members of the Gatcombe community. Cushions and needlework displays are proudly on display everywhere.
We walked around for a while, just taking in all the local history on display. It was up the top end of the church that Janis had the feeling that we where being watched- by spirit !. Although Janis couldn’t quite make out who or what it was – she had the feeling that someone was keeping watch over the church. Perhaps it was Lucy herself !.
But where is the wooden statue ?, up the other end of the church – just to the left of the pulpit, I noticed something that looked out kind of out-of-place to the rest of the church decorations. It was the statue !.
Made from dark oak, you could hardly miss it. Although you know its only a myth, you still feel alittle in awe of its presents. I very slowly moved my hand over it, half expecting to vanish in a puff of smoke !.
Nothing – thankfully..
We tried a little time-slip experiment of ourselves, just for brief moment – to shut our eyes and try to imagine what happened on that fateful day all those years ago.
Although nothing happened – it really makes the heart beat a lot faster !.
We really enjoyed our little investigation around the pretty church of Gatcombe, I would thoroughly recommend that you too visit the myth of Lucy. We didn’t find manage to find any answers – but then that’s how all good ghost stories should end.