In the year 1291 a local knight went to join the Crusades and whilst fighting in Nazareth saved a Christian girl from the Saracens. Although he was only obeying his strict rules of chivalry the woman was so grateful for her deliverance that she gave him a present. It was a fine silk damask wedding dress and he was told to make full use of it when he returned home. As it was there was a girl from Bovey Tracey waiting for him, or that is what he believed. After many years of fighting the knight finally returned with the dress safely packed away. He was sure his bride to be would be delighted with the present. Imagine his disappointment when he returned to discover that the girl had married someone else. To make matters worse they had a little daughter called Alice. The Crusader decided in his anguish to give the dress to his former love so that her daughter could have it for when she got married. Years rolled on and the knight eventually married a sister of Bishop Stapleton of Exeter. The marriage was a happy one and very soon they had a son whom they named Edward. The family thrived and the knight vowed never to leave home again.
A few years later Edward and Alice – the daughter of his first love, met and became very fond of each other. Very soon the relationship blossomed and they fell in love. This was not to last because Alice’s father announced that he had arranged with the Squire of Islington that he and his daughter should be married. Poor Alice was distraught and vowed that she would be a ‘Bride of Death’ and take her own life rather than marry the old Squire.
A day before the wedding Alice, her husband to be and all the respective families went up onto Haytor for a pre-marriage picnic. Alice wore the silk wedding dress that had been given to her by Edward’s father – the Crusader.
During the celebrations Alice and her maid clambered up onto the top of Haytor Rock. Here she told her maid of the promise she had made herself and that she was now going top be a ‘Bride of Death’. With that she rushed to the edge and leap off into the yawning void. As she began to plummet down the dress billowed out like a balloon and gently floated her down to the rocks below. The maid rushed back down to the picnic party to hysterically tell everyone of her mistresses pact to become a ‘Bride of Death’ and how she had leapt of the summit of Haytor. A rescue party was sent out to find the body but nothing was found and it was assumed that the girl had fallen into a bog and had been sucked down to eternity.
This was just as well because what had actually happened was that once Alice had floated safely down to the ground she found Edward waiting with two ponies and a marriage licence granted by his uncle the Bishop of Exeter. So the couple mounted the ponies and sped of to Widecombe where the vicar was waiting to marry them. He was the last person to see the happy couple because after the service they ran away to live a happy and content life out of the reach of her parents and the old Squire.