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The suit of armour

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 35

This isn’t a story that begins with a once upon a time, or one that finishes with a happy ending, so if that’s what you’re looking for, get out now.

A few miles away from here is one of the most notoriously haunted artefacts in the country. You might be wondering why you haven’t heard of it, or where exactly it’s kept- but there’s good reason for that. Authorities (some allegedly of an ancient or supernatural nature) have attempted to keep the existence of this particular piece of historical memorabilia under wraps for more than three hundred years. But they can’t stop us telling the story of how a suit of 18th-century armour came to be one of the biggest secrets the area would ever keep.

In the early seventeen hundreds, a famous British commander by the name of Lord Buxington became engaged to Harriet Kinnerman, a low-level noble from a neighbouring district. Now, you might think you can see where this story is going- the Lord returns from battle to find his fiancé has been cheating on him, and commits a series of sins so ungodly that he is cursed to walk the earth forevermore. But there was no doubt that Lord Buxington, who was renowned across the land for his skilful control and command of soldiers at the very height of battle, was deeply in love with his fiancé, and she with him. But what Buxington didn’t know was that his wife-to-be was allegedly part of a local coven. And Harriet’s father, a powerful mystic and head of the coven, disapproved strongly of his daughter’s desire to mix with a person of non-magical blood.

The commander officially retired from his work in the army, planning to organise his wedding and begin a family with Harriet. But there were many people furious with his decision to abandon his troops, especially when they were being sent abroad to fight on foreign soil without him for the first time. Pressure on Buxington mounted, and eventually he was bribed back into the saddle by his father-in-law- by a beautifully handcrafted suit of armour, with deliberate but invisible cracks that would allow through bullets and buckshot. Buxington, delighted with his gift, kissed his fiancé goodbye and left once more for battle, while Harriet prayed for his safe return.

Her prayers were not answered.

It wasn’t long till news returned from the front that Buxington had been killed; a stray musket shot had slipped through a crack in his suit of armour, leading to an infection that killed him slowly as his troops attempted to hold back the enemy. Eventually, after the savagery of the battlefield had claimed hundreds of Buxington’s charges, they admitted defeat- the first time Buxington had ever had to concede a battle. He died minutes later, leaving Harriet heartbroken and her father overjoyed that his plan had succeeded.

Life carried on in the district as though nothing had changed. Until one day, when the members of Harriet’s household were awoken by a scream. Hurrying to see what the matter was, a maid was discovered cowering in the corner of Harriet’s father’s bedroom, where his beheaded body lay splayed across the bed. And, standing over the corpse, sword in hand, was the breathtakingly beautiful suit of armour that he had gifted to Buxington. Terrified, the observing members of the household removed the body and immediately blocked up the door with solid stone, hoping to seal the cursed armour inside forever. The room was never re-opened, but it is said that particularly quiet visitors can hear the soft clanking of the armour as Buxington continues to search for Harriet and get back to the life he left behind.

Ghost, Spiritual Or Historic Stories For Pubs And Restaurants