Friday, 23 September 2016

A Romantic Story



This pretty little church is located a short distance from a country lane.   To reach the church you have to go through the big stone pillars which belong to the Manor House next door.   It feels like trespass.

The exterior of the building is chalk and greenstone.   I imagine the chalk is partly to blame for the poor condition of the building within.


It is tiny, seating capacity just thirty-three.   The roof looks as though it has received some fairly recent attention, so perhaps the rest is on the 'to do' list.  I hope so.


It is pretty damp and soggy on all the walls and a lot of damp is also coming up from the floor.


The church is dedicated to St Leonard and you can see the alabaster statue of him to the right of the photograph.     The monument to the left - unfortunately very high up on the wall and difficult to photograph, commemorates Sir John Bolle, his wife and their eight children.

Sir John died at the comparatively young age of forty-five, but he led a colourful and romantic life.   He was knighted after the expedition against Cadiz in 1596, in which he distinguished himself with great gallantry...but it is less for his warlike deeds, than for his determination not to be ensnared by the wiles of a very wealthy Spanish beauty!

Among the prisoners taken at Cadiz was a rather lovely Spanish lady whom Sir John treated with every courtesy and kindness.   Poor woman, she threw herself at his feet, offered him all her riches and begged him to take her back to England, disguised as his page.

Sir John broke it to her that he was already married and loved his wife and their children and would not break his marriage vows.

She eventually accepted that he was not to be hers and loaded him with jewels, valuables, casks full of plate, money and other treasures to take home to his wife and family.   She then became a nun and spent the rest of her days in sorrow.

Poor Donna Leonorra Oviedo.

Among the treasures which she gave to him was a portrait of herself, wearing a rich green dress.   Somehow, or other, this led the Bolle family to the superstition that a mysterious woman in green could be seen sitting by a particular tree near their Louth mansion - the Spanish Lady.    The story was taken so seriously that during the lifetime of Sir John's heir, his son Charles, a place was always laid at the dinner table for the Green Lady, in case she should choose to dine with them!


The floor of the church has lots of huge slabs of stone which are the markers for lots of other members of the Bolle family.   Sad to see it decaying.

Louth Museum has a sequinned bedcover  given by the green lady to Sir John, a copy of the oil painting of the Donna Leonora and various documents written about Sir John and his family.   There is also a portrait of  Sir John.

The sad, romantic story inspired someone to write an extremely lengthy ballad entitled
"The Spanish Layde's Love"
you can hear the soundtrack of a recording of it, also at the museum.

12 comments:

  1. Great story! But methinks ol' Sir John was a bit of a cad. :-)

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    1. Hello Revrunner, I think you could be right, poor Donna Leonora! It does feel as though the 'spin doctors' have been at work here.

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  2. Lovely story ghost and all, love English history. Pity about that rising damp

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    1. Hi Linda, This area is packed full of small country churches, they all have something interesting to say - but I wasn't expecting that kind of story when i visited this one!

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  3. What a lovely but very sad story.
    The Church is beautiful , such a shame it is suffering from so much damp.
    Have a wonderful new week Elaine :)

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    1. Hello Prunella, No doubt it has been embellished over the years - some versions say that Donna Leonora travelled to Louth and sat under the tree, watching for her love, then died from a broken heart. Oh dear, I need to post something more cheerful!
      Have a lovely week yourself, Prunella.

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  4. I never realised that Louth had a museum , I shall have to pop in one day

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    1. Hi Kate, It's tiny and it is only open for part of the year, I think it closes in October! I haven't ever been in there, somehow it is always closed when I think to call in.

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  5. Beautiful little church worthy of being looked after, is it still in use or looked after by the Church Conservation Trust. The memorial is well worth going to visit

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    1. I'm glad you like it, Bill. It is a little gem. I believe it is now in the care of The Trust, so I hope they lavish some care upon it before it is too late.

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  6. Don't quite know how to get in touch so leaving another comment here. I read some of the post before you took action and totally agreed with you. Parents were of another generation. Ye gods and little fishes. You should repost!!!!

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  7. Thanks ,Felicity. Glad to see all the post.

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