phantom carriages

phantom carriages
   A fairly common motif in legends of the 19th century or earlier is that the *ghost of some local aristocrat or landowner rides about the countryside at night in a spectral black carriage; its horses may be headless, or fire-breathing, or luminous, and similarly monstrous *black dogs may precede it. Recorded versions show considerable relish for these macabre details. A famous instance is the carriage of Lady Howard of Tavistock (Devon), who died in 1671 after marrying, and allegedly murdering, four husbands in turn; it is made of bones, with a skull at each corner, and runs nightly from Tavistock to Okehamp-ton Castle (Brown, 1979: 32).
   Besides these elaborate but fanciful tales, there were sober personal anecdotes about sightings of phantom funerals which were dreaded as death *omens, foreshadowing real funerals.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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