The St Marks Eve Ghost – St Mary’s Church, Scarborough- The Forgotten Tradition

Within metres of Scarborough castle sits St Marys Church. A quirky church with remains which lays within it grounds and a graveyard which extends over the road, which sadly is now used as a car park.

There are many ghostly reports around this church – shadows have been seen near thr remains of the great east window.

On 24th April 1786, a Scarborough lady went to St Marys Church  Its report that she recognised herself in the line of forms passing by and she seen her own ghost before collapsing and dying.

Now there is a old tradition that was extremely popular during the 17th and 18th century. The tradition was to go to a local church on the 24th of April during the hours of 11:00pm through to 1am on three successive years. It Is said that when church bells strike 1am the identities those who are due to die in the coming year will appear as a apparition, a coffin or a headless corpse will be revealed.

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It makes me wonder if what happened to this lady is what triggered that tradition – or was she already following this tradition and what is said to happen did actually occur?

 

‘Tis now, replied the village belle,
St. Mark’s mysterious eve,
And all that old traditions tell
I tremblingly believe;

How, when the midnight signal tolls, 
Along the churchyard green,
A mournful train of sentenced souls 
In winding-sheets are seen.

The ghosts of all whom death shall doom
Within the coming year,
In pale procession walk the gloom,
Amid the silence drear.’

 It was also believed that St Marks Eve was also the time when young maids would try to use divination to discover the identity of their true love and husband to be. One method was to hang their smock before the fireplace and await for the arrival of an apparition of the man your due to marry to come in and turn it for you.

This was a tradition throughout Britain and appears more popular in the North and West.

There are some variations on the tradition.

1. Some accounts say this vigil must be repeated each year of your live instead of just three.

2. Others say the exterior of church had to walked around before the vigil begins.

3. And another say that those undertaking the task had to be fasting.

4. Lastly some say just going on this night and participating in a vigil will able you to see.

Divining For Future Husbands

It was also believed that St Marks Eve was also the time when young maids would try to use divination to discover the identity of their true love and husband to be. One method was to hang their smock before the fireplace and await for the arrival of an apparition of the man your due to marry to come in and turn it for you.

‘On St. Mark’s eve, at twelve o’clock,
The fair maid will watch her smock,
To find her husband in the dark,
By praying unto good St. Mark.’

In North Kelsey, Lincolnshire young women would visit the Maiden Well on St Marks Eve.

‘Girls coming to the spring with the view of divination must walk towards it backwards, and go round it three times in the same manner, each girl, meanwhile, wishing the wish that she may see her destined sweetheart. After the third circle is complete, the inquirer must kneel down and gaze into the spring, in which she will see her lover looking up out of the depths.’

Another method of employed by young women was to place a nut by the heath and whisper the name of the man they believe may be their true love. If the nut jumped from the fire then the love was meant to be.

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