Students at Combe Bank School in Sundridge should keep their eyes peeled while strolling in the estate’s beautiful grounds, as they might spot a disgruntled former resident on the hunt for a missing appendage.
The house was once home to the former Lady Ferrers. Her marriage to the fourth Earl Ferrers, of Leicestershire, was not a happy one and in 1758 Lady Ferrers had obtained a rare separation from her husband on the grounds of cruelty. Two years later, Lord Ferrers shot and killed a steward who had testified in the divorce proceedings. His ex-wife is rumoured to have shopped him for the crime and on May 5, 1760 the Earl enjoyed the distinction of being the last aristocrat to be hanged in England.
Some years later, his former spouse – now Lady Frederick Campbell, having remarried in 1769 – burned to death in a fire on the Combe Bank estate. All that was left of her charred remains was a thumb, which was buried in the grounds. Rumour has it her restless spirit still roams the gardens searching for her lost digit.
Some claimed her horrific death was the result of a curse laid down by her late husband, but if so, he was certainly patient – the Lady died some 47 years after his execution.