A young lady called Anne Griffith who lived in Burton Agnes Hall, was walking home from a nearby village. As she came close to her house, she was stopped on the road by a pair of men who were begging for money.
The kindly Anne opened her purse to give them some money, but the evil men saw she was wearing a diamond ring. The vicious pair demanded that she hand over her jewelry. The men grabbed the diamond ring off her finger and when she resisted, the evil men beat her savagely with a club and fled.
Anne managed to crawl the distance to the gate way of her home at Burton Agnes Hall where she was found by a servant. She was taken to her family but was so badly injured that she died of her wounds a few hours later. But before she died she made a strange request that shocked her family.
She asked that her head be removed from her body and that is should remain within the house or terrible things would happen. Not wanting to carry out the unusual request, her family buried the poor girl in the nearby church graveyard the following day.
On the night of her funeral when everyone had gone to bed, strange loud wailing noises and banging doors kept every one up all night. These disturbed evenings carried on for three days.
Feeling uneasy about the series of events they decided to exhume her body. When the cask was opened they were faced with her bare grinning skull on her otherwise normal body. Her skull was removed and placed within the house and the tormenting evenings stopped.
A few years later when a new family moved into the house a box was found containing Anne’s skull and a maid threw it into a cart containing rubbish. The horses pulling the cart would not move. Instead, they reared and trembled in fear, the hall shook and pictures fell of the wall until the skull was removed from the cart and replaced inside the house.
When local villagers informed the new owner about the legend of the grinning skull and Anne’s death, the skull was bricked up in a wall within the house so that it could never be removed.
Although nobody knows the exact location of the skull, legend has it that the skull was buried in the wall behind the picture of Anne on the Main staircase.
Every year, on the anniversary of her death, Anne’s ghost can be seen emerging from the picture, floating down the staircase, through the house and then down a lane behind the house where she disappears.
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