Legend of The Black Vaughan

Thomas Vaughan was a 15th century lord who was killed at the Battle of Banbury in 1469, whilst supporting the Yorkist cause.Tradition says he was an incredibly evil man, although the lack of documentary evidence backing this up leads many to believe his nickname of 'Black Vaughan' may easily be attributable to his black hair, rather than his demeanour. According to local legend, after his headless body was brought back and buried in St Mary’s Church at Kington, on the border between Herefordshire and Wales, Black Vaughan was a restless spirit who wreaked havoc amongst the townsfolk after his death. Legend has him appearing in many forms, namely as a fly which tormented horses, a black dog and a huge black bull that entered the church.

This malevolent spirit took great pleasure in upsetting travellers and their animals. After nightfall he would hide behind hedges, then appear suddenly in a rush in the road to spook horses, or tip wagons loaded with goods. He would send the cattle stampeding into the river, and tip up churns in the dairy, leaving nothing for the farmer in the morning. It was as if he wanted to see the town brought to ruin, and it was working. After a time, people were too scared of Black Vaughan to come to Kington to market. Trade dwindled, and the people were afraid that the market would have to be closed. For a small rural community, such a situation was disastrous, and after Black Vaughan charged into St. Mary’s church in the form of a large Hereford bull, the villagers decided that enough was enough.

Eventually 12 local clergymen were summoned to lay the spirit - despite encountering difficulties during the ceremony, they are alleged to have shrunken the spirit of Vaughan, sealed it in a snuff box and buried it beneath a large stone in the bottom of Hergest Pool.

Like all folklore, the amount of fact contained in the story is difficult to assess, but the power of the Vaughan legend lives on, and a visitor to the church in recent times witnessed a bull like apparition form in the air. Ironically, the visitor was a distant relative of Thomas Vaughan.

The Vaughan’s legacy continues with the story of the black dog of Hergest Court, a companion to Sir Thomas Vaughan, which is believed to have had its own room at the top of the house. The dog is said to have haunted generations of the Vaughan family ever since, appearing before them to signify imminent death. It is widely thought that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles on the tales of the Hergest black dog. Since Sir Arthur is known to have stayed at Hergest Court and presumably heard of the nearby Baskerville family from Eardisley, then maybe the story is based on fact. This is much local speculation but there is no proof.





Legend of The Black Vaughan Legend of The Black Vaughan Reviewed by Tripzibit on April 26, 2016 Rating: 5

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