Turbevilles in England


Then I asked Gover about the Turberville ghost which we are told hounts this lane, and which is the subject of an allusion in Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. His keen old face became serious at once. No ghosts or goblins had troubled him, he said, but John Rawless and another chap saw as plain as could be a funeral going along from Woolbridge House to Bere Regis, and they heard the priest singing in front of the coffin, but they could not understand what he did say. There was a cattle gate across the road in those days and Rawles ran to open it, but before he could get there the coffin had passed through the gate and it had all vanished: He had often heard tell of people who had seen ghosts, and he would not be put about if he did see one himself.

"So you have not seen the blood-stained family coach of the Turbervilles?", I inquired.

"No, I never see that," said Gover, shaking his head, "nor never heard of it."

"Then , as it is a tale that every child should know," I said, "I will tell you now, and you shall believe it or no, precisely as you choose. Once upon a time there was a Turberville who deserves to be remembered and to be called, so to speak, the limb of the 'old 'un' himself, for he spent all his days in wickedness, and went roaring to the devil as fast as all his vices could send him. I have heard it said that he snapped his fingers in the face of a good parson who came to see him on his death-bed, saying he did not wish to talk balderdash, or to hear it, and bade him clear out and send up his servant with fighting-cooks and a bottle of brandy. Gradually all the drinking and vice, which had besieged his soul for so long, swept him into a state of temporary madness and he murdered a friend while they were riding to Woolbridge House in the family coach. The friend he struck down had Turberville blood in his veins too, so you may be certain the blame was not all on one side. Ever since the evil night the coach with the demon horses dragging it sways and rocks along the road between Wool and Bere, and the murderer rushes after it, moaning and wringing his hands, but never naving the fortune to catch it up. The spectacle of the haunted coach cannot be seen by the ordinary wayfarer; it is only to be seen by persons in which blood of the Turberville is mixed."

"Ah!" nodded old Gover, "I don't hold with that story. If so be as that 'ere Turberville who murdered t'other hev a-gone up above, 'tain't likely as how he'll be wishful to go rowstering after that ripping great coach on a dalled bad road like this." And then he shook his bony finger in my face and added: "And if the dowl have a-got hold on 'im he won't be able to go gallyvanting about - he'll be kept there!"

(Source: Chapter VII "BERE REGIS AND THE ANCIENT FAMILY OF TURBERVILLE" From Thomas Hardy's Dorset by R. Thurston Hopkins. Published by D. Appleton and Company, New York)

Coity Castle


Coity was the center of an important Norman lordship, held by the Turbervilles under the greater lord of Glamorgan. The initial stronghold was almost certainly thrown up by Payn de Turberville, who in tradition married the heiress of the earlier Welsh lords and thereby secured the lands without bloodshed. Payn's castle was an earthen ringwork with a timber palisade crowning the bank, and surrounded by a circular ditch. (Source: http://www.castlewales.com/coity.html)

Crickhowell Castle, also known as Ailsby's castle, is a conspicuous feature of the small market town and occupies a vantage point with commanding views along the Usk valley. It began life as a motte and bailey with timber buildings, probably built by the Turberville family in the 12th century. In 1272 it was rebuilt in stone, still to the basic plan, by Sir Grimbald Pauncefote, who married Sybil, a Turberville heiress. (Source: http://www.castlewales.com/crickhwl.html)

The Story of Cookham

Cookham is a picturesque English village on the banks of the River Thames, forty miles west of London. The Turberville family moved to it from Penlline in South Wales, and brought the ancient manor house along with other properties, pasture, livestock, and river bank.

In the early 18th century, under pressure from religious persecution, the Turbervilles sold up and set out for the New World, to become Turbevilles and the founders of the settlement of that name. (Source:The Story of Cookham by Robin and Val Bootle)

Copies may still be available for $32.50 from
Holy Trinity Publications Committee
c/o Robinsmead, Burnt Oak
Cookham SL6 9RN

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