Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Terror of Scotland, at Kinlet in Shropshire

The man known as “The Terror of Scotland” came from the village of Kinlet in the shape of Sir George Blount, gentleman. This imposing man earned his name during the so-called “rough wooing” of the 1540s.

King Henry VIII of England wanted his son and heir to marry the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, and so unite the two nations. The Scots, however, preferred a French alliance and refused. King Henry sent the English army into Scotland to take the bride by force. The invasion culminated in the Battle of Pinkie, just outside Edinburgh, after Henry’s death when his army was led by the Earl of Somerset. The English destroyed the Scots army, killing some 10,000 men while losing only 247 themselves.

Then troops of men, one led by Sir George Blount of Kinlet, fanned out across the kingdom to find the intended bride. Mary had, however, already fled to France, but that did not stop the English taking possession of the northern lands. Blount administered the areas assigned to him with a ruthless efficiency that gained him his nickname. In 1561 Queen Mary returned to Scotland, having reached an agreement with the new ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth I.

Blount, in his turn, returned home to Kinlet. There he married and settled down to farm his spreading estates. The marriage produced a son and daughter. The boy died as a toddler, tragically choking on an apple. Despite his fearsome reputation, Blount was distraught. He laid the tiny body in a silver coffin and buried it with his own hands. When his daughter grew up, Blount was pained to see her form an attachment with a local man of whom he disapproved.

As Blount lay dying in 1581 he called his daughter to his side and begged her not to marry the man. His pleas fell on deaf ears. Barely was he cold in his grave at Kinlet Church than his daughter married. It was this event that began the hauntings.

Emerging from the church in an apparent furious temper, the ghostly Sir George Blount calls to his side a huge black charger. Mounting the steed, Sir George puts his spurs to the horse and gallops off at high speed towards the village of Kinlet. The first time that the ghost put in an appearance, it nearly frightened to death the old family servant who saw it. The dramatic ghost continued to ride long after the errant daughter passed away and, in in 1720, the Blounts pulled down the old house in an attempt to escape the ghostly visitations.

The new Kinlet Hall is an imposing structure in the finest neo-Classical taste. But its construction has done nothing to halt the appearances of Sir George Blount. Mounted on his fiery steed, he rides the road between the church and hall to this day. It is as well not to get in his way, for he is said to charge down any who do, hurling them aside with terrific force.

Clearly the old warrior’s anger is not yet faded.

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