Louisa Connolly, wife of Baron Langford, was a guest of the Reverend Taylor and his wife Marrianne at Ardgillan Castle. She was to stay there while her husband, the Reverend's nephew, was in Scotland on a grouse shooting trip . On the last evening of her stay, Lady Langford requested her servant Charlotte Bates to fetch her bathing clothes. She was a strong swimmer and enjoyed go a daily swim at nearby Barnageera, even in winter.
A Watery Grave
Just after noon, they both took the stone-stepped bridge from the castle demesne across to the beach.
- As Charlotte undressed Lady Langford, she worried that the sea looked much rougher than the previous day.
- Her servant felt it was less favourable and advised Lady Langford not too venture out too far.
- Lady Langford laughed at her servant's warning.
- But, within minutes, Charlotte then noticed her moving erratically, as if she something was dragging her under the waves.
- The servant tried to rescue her, but in vain. Some local working men could not reach her either.
- The body floated lifelessly in the water before, an hour later, it was pulled from the sea.
- Lady Langford died aged just 31, leaving behind a young family.
Maria's Strange Hallucinations
Lady' Langford's death was witnessed by her cousin, Maria who was watching the tragedy unfold from the cliffs above Barnageera. She watched on helplessly as the Lady Langford struggled in the waves, and as Charlotte plunged in but failed to rescue her. An hour later, she holding her cousin's corpse in her arms. For some time afterwards, Maria suffered from strange hallucinations, which she described in correspondence as "a most horrible nervous affection of the eyes". Maria couldn't look at a face, without Lady Langford's face semi-appearing, so that "half of everyone's face [was] like the livid and swollen half of her drowned cousin's face."
A Spirit that Cannot Find Peace
Today, the stone steps from Ardgillan down towards Barnageera beach still survive. Today, they serve as a railway bridge and are known as The Lady's Stairs. Some say that, late at night, a figure dressed in white can be seen emerging up the stone steps from the beach at Barnageera, across into Ardgillan Castle Is Lady Langfard's ghost still searching for the husband who was due to return the night she drowned? Is she still seeking the young children she tragically left behind on that fateful day?