Lord Combermere died in 1891 and a photograph taken during the time he was being buried, became renown for establishing proof of life after death.
Combermere Abbey, located in Cheshire, England, was founded by Benedictine monks in 1133. In 1540, King Henry VII ran out the Benedictines, and closed down the Abbey which later became the Seat of Sir George Cotton KT, Vice Chamberlain to the household of Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII.
In 1814, Sir Stapleton Cotton, a descendent of Sir George, took the title “Lord Combermere” and in 1817 became became the Governor of Barbados.
His son, Wellington Henry Stapleton-Cotton born in 1818, the second Viscount Combermere and so known most often as simply 'Lord Combermere'. He was a cavalry commander in the early 1800s, who distinguished himself in several military campaigns.
In 1891, he was 73 years old and visiting London when he was run over by a horse drawn carriage, seriously injuring both of his legs. Nonetheless, he appeared to be recovering well six weeks later, and had even started to walk about on his own again with the assistance of crutches but unexpectedly a blood-clot formed in his aged heart, and the old man passed away suddenly on December 1st.
His funeral was held on Saturday, December 5, at St. Margaret's in the town of Wrenbury. His coffin arrived from London by an early train, and was received by his son Robert, who was now the new Lord Combermere. The remains were transported by hearse straight to the church, where a large crowd of sympathizers and friends had much earlier gathered out of respect for the dead man. The service was short, starting at two o'clock after waiting for some prominent mourners to arrive, after which the coffin was interred in the family vault located at the church's graveyard.
On the same day a woman named Sybell R. Corbet set up a long exposure camera to take a picture of the library of Combermere Abbey as she had been engaged to take photographs of the estate.
The timing of the matter was practical; very few people were in the house, so the photo should not have been disturbed if left for a long exposure. Miss Corbet was staying in Combermere Abbey with her brother and sisters; her sister Constance, titled as "Lady Sutton," was renting the abbey at the time. It wasn't until August of the following year, eight months after Corbet's shot of the library had been taken, that she had a chance to develop the plate with the picture and what it showed puzzled her when she realized that it was taken the specific date and time of the old Lord's funeral four miles away.
It was thought by some that during that time a servant might have come into the room and sat briefly in the chair, creating the transparent image. This idea was refuted by members of the household, however, testifying that all were attending the burial.
Miss Corbet showed the image to her sister, Mrs. Alice Rowley, who was convinced that it looked liked the deceased second Lord Combermere. With further inquiry, Sybill discovered that the delayed funeral service had in fact been held at the exact same time her shot of the library was being exposed.
Still, she was not convinced what she saw in the picture was indeed the ghost of the late Lord Combermere. This was because when the photo was shown to a number of people who knew the aged Lord well and, while some stated the image was obviously him, others felt there was no resemblance at all to the deceased man.
Given the placement of the plant stand right where a face should be, and that what at first resembles an area for a eye or nose is actually just details of the woodwork on the chair, Miss Corbet held serious doubts that a positive identification could be made. At the same time, the clothing on the figure and suggestion of a bald head and light colored beard didn't match any of the males in the household at the time, being her youngest brother, the butler, and two footmen, all four being young and beardless. And yet, having a mysterious figure appear in a photo taken at exactly the same time as the funeral was a highly strange coincidence if the two were not related. Most surprising the figure was seated in Lord Combermere's favorite chair.
It was a curious matter; but it was largely kept out of the public eye. Only family and some friends were shown the photo and told the story until 1895, when both the photo and the account were published in the December 1895 volume of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, which was founded by the philosopher William James that was concerned with the scientific investigation of claims of psychic phenomena.
The Journal itself was only made available to actual members of the society and to protect the Combermere family, the estate was referred to as "D. Hall" and Lord Combermere as "Lord D.".
Interesting side note: Lord Combermere's father is connected to another well-known paranormal story, the famous “Moving Coffins” of Barbados. The coffins inside the sealed vault of the Chase family are said to have been moved about by unnatural forces. The heavy coffins were repeatedly put in proper order, but often when a new coffin was added to the vault, the coffins were found strewn about. Lord Combermere, while governor of Barbados, had ordered a professional investigation of the mystery, and after finding no answer to the poltergeist activity, disinterred the family and buried them in separate graves in Christ Church Cemetery.
Source - AnomalyInfo
Marlene at Miami Ghost Chronicles is a freelance writer and paranormal researcher.
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