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The Black Lady of Bradley Woods

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I grew up in a large town in Lincolnshire, England. As kids, we used to play in a large wooded area on the outskirts of town called Bradley Woods. In the woods is an ancient looking abandoned cottage by a pond and we told a story about it which went like this:

Hundreds of years ago, a poor woodsman lived in the cottage with his wife and baby. They lived happily until the woodsman was pressed into military service by the local landowner during the English Civil War. The woodman’s wife waited and waited for months for any news of her husband, but none ever came.

One new year’s day, a group of soldiers on horseback came riding through the woods, part of a force that had been plundering the surrounding countryside. Coming across the cottage, they broke in and demanded the woodsman’s wife hand over all her money and any strong drink she might have. When she refused, the soldiers beat and raped her savagely, before taking the baby and riding off, laughing wickedly.

From that day on, the woman dressed in black and roamed the woods searching for her missing child, accosting anyone she met and begging them for any news of the baby. She soon earned a reputation as being quite mad, and so people began to give the woods a wide berth.

The woodsman never returned home, and the woman continued to roam the woods, desperately searching for her lost baby until the day she died.

Legend has it that her ghost still wanders the woods today, and if anyone is brave enough to walk into the woods on new year’s day and shout "Black lady, black lady, I’ve stolen your baby!" three times, the woman shall appear and confront them.

Original author unknown

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