ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Legend of the Mistletoe Bough

Updated on December 14, 2017

The story of the "Mistletoe Bough" was hugely popular in Victorian England and tells the tale of a Christmas Bride, the daughter of a nobleman, who marries a gentleman of high-standing named Lovall. During the wedding celebrations and tired from dancing, the Bride calls for a game of "Hide and Seek" and disappears to hide.

The young groom and the guests attempt to find the hidden bride and search all over the house/castle for her in vain. Frantically searching, well into the night, but alas, it appeared that the young bride had completely dissappeared. Her Groom and her Father are grief stricken.

Eventually, the weeks passed into years and one day a large Oak chest with a spring-lock was opened and inside was a skeleton in a wedding dress - the hidden bride!

The story is quite possibly based on truth, possibly dating back as far as the 15/16th Centuries. In a book published by the English Poet Samuel Rogers in 1823 titled "Tours in Italy", the story was recounted the tale relating to a 15 year old bride named Genevra from a noble family who resided in a palace near Modena and married a young man named Francesco after which the tragic tale unfolded. Afterwards the disconsolate widower joined the Venetian army and died fighting against the Turks,

The story came to wider public attention, when it was interpreted into a Poem/Song in the 1830's by Thomas Haynes Bayley as detailed in the above image. The words to the song/poem are as follows;

"The Mistletoe hung in the castle hall

The holly branch shone on the old oak wall;

And the Baron's retainers were blythe and gay,

And keeping their Christmas holiday.

The Baron beheld with a father's pride

His beautiful child, Lord Lovell's bride.

While she, with her bright eyes seemed to be,

The star of the goodly company, Oh the Mistletoe Bough,

"I'm weary of the dancing now," she cried,

Here tarry a moment, I'll hide-I'll hide;

And Lovell, be sure though'rt the first to trace,

The clue to my secret lurking place,

Away she ran, and her friends began,

Each tower to search, and each nook to scan,

And young Lovell cried, "Oh, where do you hide?

I'm lonesome without you, my own dear bride" Oh the Mistletoe Bough,

They sought her that night, they sought her next day,

And they sought her in vain when a week passed away.

In the highest, the lowest, the loneliest spot,

Young Lovell sought Wildly, but found her not.

And the years flew by, and their grief at last,

Was told as a sorrowful tale long past;

And when Lovell appear'd, the children cried,

"See the old man weeps for his fairy bride." Oh the Mistletoe Bough.

At length as old chest that had long lain hid,

Was found in the castle, they raised the lid,

And a skeleton form lay mouldering there,

Oh, sad was her fate! In sporting jest,

She hid from her Lord in the old oak chest,

It closed with a spring, and dreadful doom,

The bride lay clasp'd in her living tomb, Oh the Mistletoe Bough.

The story had gripped Victorian England's imagination and despite it's likely European origins, graduated into a very English Christmas Horror story and as a result, many houses around the country became associated as the possible location for the gruesome tale. Amongst these were

Minster Lovell in Oxfordshire, which had been ancestral home to the Lovell family. There is also a story that a Lord Lovell had fled the battle of Stoke during the War of the Roses in 1487 and hidden in a secret chamber, to be discovered in 1708! It could well be that Thomas Haynes Bayly had associated to two similar tales and hence the Lovell appears in the poem/song.

Bawdrip Rectory - Located in the pretty Somerset village of Bawdrip, near Bridgwater, the nearby Church of St. Michael and All Angels has references to a Lovell family, one of the parish priest's during the 1600's was named Lovell and also, I seem to recall, a reference to a young female family member dying in her teenage years. It is possibly on this basis that the story has been associated. As pretty as the rectory is, it is not of a particularly grand size as referred to in the poem (and the Lovell family would have been pretty inept to have not located her after even half an hour!)

Other residences including Marwell Hall in Hampshire, Castle Horneck near Penzance in Cornwall and Exton Hall in Rutland have all been linked to the story, although it is unclear as to how the association would have originated.

The popularity of the story and subsequent poem in the late 19th Century went onto inspire a popular play and further songs and also referenced in Thomas Hardy's novel "A Laodicean", published in 1881.

The "Mistletoe Bough" was once one of the most popular Christmas songs in the 19th Century and would have been familiar to nearly all residents of England at that time. Unfortunately, the song's popularity has declined in the last century but it does still live on in parts of England! Particularly in the North Yorkshire and Derbyshire areas near Sheffield, England, where wonderful tradition of "Sheffield carols" are sung by large groups in local pubs (usually with a drink in hand!) from mid November through to December, believed to have stemmed from a time when the local church's thought carols not suitable, driving the strong-willed Yorkshiremen (& Derbyshiremen) to take the tradition to the local pubs rather than be dictated to from the pulpit! The majority of the carols sung are not the carols that have become the mainstream versions, most of us are familiar with, as sung throughout the rest of country, although some have familiar tunes, but different lyrics,. These appear to be carols that would have been popular from the 18th Century and this wonderful tradition is keeping them alive.

Finally in recent years, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have recorded a version of the song and British folk collective Bellowhead have also performed a version, once again, keeping the fascinating story alive for another generation.

Bawdrip Rectory

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      janice 

      7 years ago

      the story is creepy

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)