Just below the Dean Burn lies the small estate of Skerraton which back in the 1200’s was owned jointly by two noble people, Lady Dyonisia and Nicholas de Kingdom. Nicholas de Kingdom came from a Norman family who came originally over with William the Conqueror and for their services were rewarded with part ownership of the estate. But as always, much wants more, and Nicholas desperately wanted to own the other half of his estate. To this end he had, through means fair and foul managed to persuade Lady Dyonisia to marry him. This would mean that the whole estate with all its income came under his control in one easy step. However, things aren’t always that simple and so enter stage left Sir John de Boyvile. History has it that Sir John was the typical dashing knight that every lady dreamed of and he came equipped with the obligatory white charger. Therefore it did not take Lady Dyonisia very long to fall under his spell and very quickly change her mind about prospective husbands.
It did not take Nicholas very long to discover the bad news and to say he was beside himself would be putting it mildly. “Faint heart never won fair maiden”, goes the saying and Nicholas decided that the only way he would get his estate and his lady was to remove Sir John from the equation. So he hatched a fiendish plot whereby he would ambush Sir John and stab him to death and to make sure of his chances the dagger would be dipped in a deadly poison.
Having found a suitable spot where he knew Sir John would be passing, Nicholas hid himself in order to spring his ambush. When the knight eventually came along Nicholas sprang upon him and a fierce struggle ensued. But alas, not only did Nicholas manage to inflict a mortal wound on Sir John he also managed to cut himself on the poisoned blade. Realising that there was no antidote to the poison the jilted lover decided that in the short time he had left to live he would also kill Lady Dyonisia. So he staggered back to the estate where he found Dyonisia and with his last reserves of strength plugged his dagger deep into her heart. As his ex-lover lay in a pool of blood, Nicholas staggered back to his home where the poison finally exacted its price.
It did not take long for the news of Nicholas’s death reached the monks of Buckfast Abbey who immediately fetched his corpse and took it back to the abbey. A few days later prayers were said and hymns were sung as the brothers buried the mortal remains of Nicholas in the grave yard at the abbey. Good riddance to bad rubbish some might say but the story does not end here. The following year, on the anniversary of the killings some of the monks saw the ghostly figure of a white lady wearing a blood splattered dress hovering over the grave of Nicholas de Kingdom. This fearful apparition appeared for several more years on the fateful anniversary until someone finally put two and two together and the truth of the murders of Lady Dyonisia and Sir John was discovered. Once Nicholas’s dastardly deed was recognised the yearly hauntings ceased and the White Lady of Buckfast Abbey was never seen again.