The Ghostly Legend that Inspired THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE and BURIED SECRETS

Belhurst Castle-1










Isabella Robinson haunts Belhurst Castle.

Known as the “Lady in White,” the ghost of Isabella has been seen by many, was photographed by at least one (I’ve seen the photo), and inspired Belhurst’s “Legend of Isabella.”


IMG_0829The stories I’ve researched vary. The account given in Belurst Castle’s pamphlet, “The History of Belhurst Castle,” says that Isabella was married to William Bucke, an honest man who was both treasurer and manager of London’s Covent Garden where Isabella performed in the 1800s. David Sakmyster’s account in his book, The Belhurst Story, claims that Isabella was Bucke’s mistress, and a dishonest William Bucke ran off money he stole from Covent Garden. What both agree on is that the two traveled to Geneva, New York and settled on the property that is now Belhurst Castle.

Another item both accounts agree on is that Isabella and William knew they would be pursued and found one day, so Bucke built tunnels beneath the property to provide an escape route. The sources also agree that the couple was tracked to Geneva and were close to being apprehended when the two fled to the tunnel that led to Seneca Lake. This is where their demise is different.

In Belhurst’s telling, when they escaped through the tunnel and reached Seneca Lake, Isabella was swept away by a huge wave. William grasped Isabella and the two were pulled into the depths of the lake, drowning in the icy waters. Locals still insist that, in the dead of night, they’ve seen the couple walking hand in hand on the property.

IMG_0830David Sakmyster’s research led him to a story in which Bucke installed a mechanism in the tunnel that would cause it to collapse when set in motion. This would crush the pursuers as they chased the couple, killing them. When they reached the tunnel’s end with its opening to Seneca Lake, Isabella dropped her torch and stooped to retrieve it. He told her to leave it and hurry to the boat he had waiting. He felt a breeze as she passed and activated the mechanism. But Isabella had not passed him and was killed in the collapse of the tunnel.

During a stay at Belhurst Castle, David and his wife, Amy, saw the Lady in White on the lawn below their window. That prompted him to research the history of Belhurst Castle and the Legend of the Lady in White.

IMG_0760Whenever we visit Belhurst Castle, I ask staff if they’ve had any ghostly encounters. Most shrug and say they don’t believe in that sort of thing. But one person told me about feeling the air turn cold. Another, when asked, said, “I’ve got something better. I’ve got a picture.” Pulling out his phone, he scrolled through his photos and showed us a picture a woman had taken of her husband in the castle. When the couple looked at the photo, two ghostly figures were on either side of the man. One, a woman in a ball gown, one a figure in costume sitting at the table.

THC-BookCoverPreview-2This fascinating legend is the inspiration for much of The Cavanaugh House and its sequel, Buried Secrets (due out in August).   I have always loved a good ghost story. Add riches, a journey across the Atlantic to escape, and secret tunnels, and you’ve got me hooked. And writing.

How about you? Have you had ghostly encounters?






The Cavanaugh House is available on Amazon in three formats: Kindle ebook, Print and Audiobook

14 thoughts on “The Ghostly Legend that Inspired THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE and BURIED SECRETS

  1. What a fascinating story! I’m about halfway through reading The Cavanaugh House and loving it. No, I haven’t had ghostly encounters, and I’m not sure I want to – reading about them is enough for me!

    • Elizabeth Meyette says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Patty. I’m so glad you are enjoying The Cavanaugh House. Sounds like Ghost-hunting is not for you LOL.

    • Elizabeth Meyette says:

      Thanks, Diane. When authors share what inspires their stories, it opens me up to new possibilities, and I begin to listen more carefully and try to be more observant. (I am not a visually acute person, more auditory. Rich can change the living room around, and I might not notice right away LOL.)

  2. I’ve read the CAVANAUGH HOUSE and really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing the stories that inspired your book. I’m now looking forward to reading BURIED SECRETS.

    • Elizabeth Meyette says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Maris. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE. I’m very excited about the upcoming release of BURIED SECRETS!

  3. Fascinating story, Betty. I love reading about old castles and haunted houses. There is a Hampton Lillibridge house in Savannah GA that is supposedly the most haunted in that city. It’s history is mentioned in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

    • Elizabeth Meyette says:

      I loved reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil! Sounds like it’s time for a road trip to Savannah, GA. I would love to see Lillibridge House! Thanks for stopping by, Lora Lee.

  4. I love hearing ghost stories, soul stories I call them. I’ve had many, many of my own encounters with those who have passed, some I’ve known or were related to, some complete strangers but who were testing their skills, having seen I was open to such encounters. Great blog!

    • Elizabeth Meyette says:

      I like that, Diana – soul stories – because they are stories about souls who have passed and need to finish their work. I think it’s awesome that you are able to have encounters with spirits who have passed – even strangers! In my books I try to treat these characters with respect. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I also love ghost stories and enjoyed The Cavanaugh House. I wrote one ghost story that remains unpublished yet and have another one in mind. So glad to hear that Buried Secrets will be available soon. Looking forward to reading it!

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