Famous poisoner, hung for the murder of her father, Blandy lived in Henley and is said to haunt the lanes of Turville and Hambleden.
Link with the Chilterns
Lived in Henley and is said to haunt the lanes of Turville and Hambleden
6th April 1752
Mary Blandy was the daughter of Francis Blandy, a prosperous solicitor and Town Clerk of Henley. When she grew up her wealthy background made her very attractive to potential suitors. She became enamoured with a Captain William Henry Cranstoun who courted her for a number of years. They often took walks at Park Place across the Thames at Remenham. At first Mary’s parents thought highly of William Cranstoun and encouraged him, impressed by the fact that his father was Lord Cranstoun, a Scottish peer.
Mary’s father then received information that Capt. Cranstoun was already married. The Captain managed to convince Mary and her mother that the marriage would be very shortly annulled, but her father was furious with him and became very hostile.
After some time Capt. Cranstoun supplied Mary with some powder to put in her father’s food, which he claimed would make him more amenable to the idea of their betrothal. The powder however caused Mr Blandy to become very ill, and eventually he died in August 1751. It is very likely that Mary had been administering arsenic to him, wittingly or unwittingly.
The Blandys’ servants and relatives suspected Mary of being responsible for her father’s death and she was arrested. In February 1752 she was put on trial and found guilty of murder, and was hung on 6th April 1752, protesting her innocence to the end.
In the following centuries Mary’s ghost has been reported haunting the lanes around Turville and Hambleden. In particular, there are stories about the ghost of a woman in old-fashioned clothes being seen on Dolesden Lane near Turville, her dress rustling as she passes by. Mary has also been seen riding a white horse through Churchfield Wood.
Captain William Cranstoun did not get off scot-free since he contracted an illness and died in December 1752.
Information on “paranormal happenings” around Turville.
Mary Blandy biography on Royal Berkshire History website
What you can visit
The Little Angel pub in Henley, where Mary took refuge before being taken into custody, is still operating.