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Greensleeves In The Walls


This is an experience that happened to me almost 12 years ago now and it's something that still to this day I can make no sense of. It's very personal due to the circumstances at the time which I will explain further.

I was 15 years old at the time and me and my younger sister had to go and stay with my aunt who was house sitting my grandmother's farm house. My grandmother had passed away 5 years prior very suddenly in hospital after a knee operation. We had gone to visit her, and she passed away from a sudden collapse as she was getting ready to see us. It was very raw and shocking and it devastated all of us as she was such a huge part of our family.

So anyway back to the farm house. We ended up staying there for 4 nights. Myself and my younger sister stayed in the top floor which is where my grandmother would have slept. It was a large room right up in the rafters, very beautiful and open plan with a stand alone bath. The building was very old but I always felt very comfortable in it and I never felt strange or scared.

The first night I woke up and it was 3am on the dot as I remember looking over at the digital clock across from me. My sister was fast asleep and I recall looking around wondering what could have woken me at this hour. That's when I first heard it.

It was the very soft to begin with and could only just make it out. It sounded like classical music and then as I came around from being half awake I realised it was the song Greensleeves. I went over to the clock thinking that maybe it was an alarm on there and the radio playing music. No. I looked around for any other radio or alarm and saw nothing. At this point I just thought maybe it's coming from next door or downstairs so I went back to sleep and thought nothing of it.

The next night low and behold I woke up again. My younger sister fast asleep, I looked across and sure enough the alarm clock was bang on 3am. Greensleeves was playing again I just thought that this couldn't be! Where was this coming from? I got up from the bed I tried to look around to see where it was coming from. I came to no conclusion. I remember feeling so confused but I was not scared. The music was very soft, it wasn't muffled, it was clear as day.

The next day I didn't mention anything to my aunt or sister because I thought that maybe I was dreaming and I just put it to the back of my mind. I didn't want them to think I was weird randomly coming out with this stuff!

The next two nights it happened again in the same way at 3am that's when I started to think that something wasn't right. I couldn't explain where it was coming from, I remember feeling extreme sorrow the last night, I wasn't scared I just felt sad.

I told my mum about it a good while after this happened. Now this is the part that sends shivers down my spine. My mum explained that apparently a long time ago, when infants or babies would pass away they would bury their clothes in the walls. Apparently the house was occupied by a long history of farmers and families and there was evidence of a baby who had passed away at the house. I couldn't believe what she was saying.

To this day I believe this experience to be 100% paranormal. I could find no physical explanation since. At one point I thought that it could have been something to do with my grandma's death that she was trying to communicate somehow as we were sleeping in her bed in her room. But as soon as my mum explained the about the baby it all made sense. The music was coming from the walls all around us and who knows how many children passed away in that house. The music of Greensleeves could have been used as a lullaby back in the day.

Every time I hear that song it reminds me of this strange experience in my life and I will never forget this.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Maisiemoo23, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Maisiemoo23 (1 stories) (1 posts)
4 years ago (2020-01-14)
Thank you for all of your input and comments in regard to this, it's very interesting to read all of your knowledge on this! And apologies for not replying sooner.

MusingsGrace you make some very interesting points, one including the fact that people would sing this song at pubs. I decided to do a little research on the property to understand it's history. I found out that before farmers lived there, it was a pub where many workers and people would pass. It was directly next to a canal so it had a lot of traffic come it's way.

In regards to any more information I can give, here goes:

The music - it was definitely instrumental. Like a violin or something similar. It was faint but loud enough if that makes any sense!

The house - it was built in the 1700s after further research.

The history - my grandmother had only lived there for 10 years before her passing. Before her were apparently farmers. Again I think I need to do a little more probing with family to see if they recall anything that sticks out to them.

Location - based near the River Severn in Gloucestershire, England.

I do hope this helps somewhat! I'll come back with anything else I find.
MusingsGrace (1 stories) (7 posts)
5 years ago (2019-06-11)
Greensleves is also a melody that is used in one of my favorite Christmas Carols. Keep in mind that on average 1/2 of all children wouldn't make it to adulthood, so likely there were many kids who died there and potentially had their belongings stuffed in the walls (clothes are good insulation and can be a painful reminder of what is lost/can have deadly virus/bacteria living in them). We are lucky to live in the modern era with medicine, but literally 1/2 of all kids died by adulthood, so don't get too caught up in an unwed mother's home theory as it could've been any mother, wed or not. It doesn't seem malevolent, and it doesn't appear to be the Fae. The Fae are a complicated pool of beings, but one of their uniting features is the use of music to lure one away (sometimes they walk you to death, sometimes they take you, sometimes they need a referee or something similar... Like I said, their motives are complex). But least it's not obviously negative!

Many melodies were co-opted into lullabies and it's possible that this tune turned drinking song turned Christmas carol became a lullaby for a family that lived there: people are individuals, and they use what they have, and even melodies can become a tool, and if it was a song that reminded a mother of what she had lost and was a way she was allowed to engage, she could've sung it after the death (s) as a way to commemorate her dear heart.

Remember there's no Facebook and most couldn't read or write, so things like Greensleves could take on more meaning than the historical record would show, allowing one to access memory (sensory patterns help us remember). Someone could've even made up their own verses, as is so common in folk music; just think about Scarborough Fair or Black is a Color or any ballad at all. They became ballads cuz people kept making new verses up.

Note on the history: Greensleves is attributed to King Henry VIII, that is true, and he was an accomplished musician. It is debated as to whether he invented it or whether he took it off of someone else as musicians often do (would you say no to him given his history of violence?) but he popularized it most certainly. It was a drinking song, and a Christmas carol (what child is this/laid to rest/on Mary's lap is sleeping/etc). To me, the Christmas carol verses seem especially relevant to your tale; I sing what child is this every year at Christmas time, and I don't live in 1580. Also, by 1580 Elizabeth I was Queen and Henry VIII died in 1547... Just pointing that out. And yeah, its popularity remains to this day (the fact that you recognized the tune shows that it can't be used as a reliable dating tool at all, anyone could know that tune between the 16th century and now). It's played every Christmas, and was sung in nearly every pub for centuries. It's too popular to use as a dating tool, but it shows how someone felt, and that is important.

In terms of the Egyptians, actually that was a very unusual practice found in one city that existed for maybe 100 years or so during an intermediate period, and was REALLY not common. They buried their dead in the walls and floor, but it was short lived. It only happened in one town in the northwest that I know of. I took a college course on Ancient Egyptians and I have a degree in history, and the expert I knew emphasized how strange and rare of a practice that was, and how creepy it probably seemed to most Egyptians, as most would NEVER do that at ANY other point in time. By and large they buried their dead in graveyards, not walls or floors (FYI they often had dirt floors and could've accidentally built on top of a graveyard, that happens to this day, and that's a much more plausible explanation than the one you were previously given their known burial practices, poor or rich). That specific city is actually a possible site of the Jewish people in Egypt, and it's fall closely resembles the story of Jericho, though it is quite unknown and quite mysterious. Also, the "Egyptians" were a very diverse and dynamic culture that evolved and changed over thousands of years; we are closer to Cleopatra than she was to the beginning of the old kingdom. They had multiple ethnic groups, Pharohs of every color and culture... Just some food for thought.

They're not anymore cohesive than London is today; yeah it might have a culture right now, but during Shakespeare's time that culture was super violent, and Shakespeare himself was arraigned in court on charges he threatened someone within an inch of his life. Marlow died in a fight, and oddly enough it wasn't uncommon for playwrights, but you wouldn't extrapolate that to London today: violence ain't as prevalent there now as it once was, nor would assume that your playwrights double as violent and potentially murderous, plus today there are multiple cultures (would you conflate a cockney and a posh statesman?). I just want y'all to think critically and dynamically, not generalize based on 100 years out of a 3000 year history. That's just silly: how would you feel if someone 5000 years from now conflated you, puritans, and William the conquerer? That approach doesn't make sense.

My take on this is it was a lullaby a mother sang to commemorate the dead she had lost, children or otherwise, and that sentiment attaches itself to the closest emotional object available: the clothes in the wall, ones she would've probably made by hand, then used as she cared for the child, then hurt to look at it once the person the gift was for left. When I make things I get attached, objects can hold memories for people without the paranormal entering the situation, and it could ache to even see it on a new child: what if you lose them too? I wonder if there are bones in the wall; unlike ancient Egyptians this was a more common practice in England/English cultures and I can think of two recorded instances offhand from England that involve dead in the walls, though I would hesitate to call it common, it is more common than one would realize.

Also, it is playing at 3 am, which we think of as the witching hour, but on farms you get up between 4-5 am on average. Could this have been a socially acceptable time to mourn alone for a grieving mother? Could she have take the clothes out of the wall, then cried alone and put them back so no one would know? If the house is made of stone or brick or even wood that is possible; it's made out of plaster or something similar it's unlikely that's the case.

Conversely, what if mother died, and is attached to the objects she created and the house she lived in, doesn't realize time has moved on and is trying to sing her loved ones back to sleep with a familiar tune? Or wake them up with a familiar tune? It could go either and even both ways: mother and child often died together, be it childbirth, plague or abuse. Just like you have a phone alarm (or radio alarm) that play music, it could've been used as a way to rouse someone from slumber peacefully. So many possibilities, and without hard evidence they just multiply. Any other evidence appear? I'm super curious. Was there anything in the walls? Or could it have rotted away, leaving only an attached memory?
LuciaJacinta (8 stories) (291 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-16)
Well I'm going to go against the majority and say that the reason it was Greensleeves was because it is a song that means something to you. One that you can recognize. It's playing for some sort of message to you not because of a lullaby maybe?

I've also never heard of clothes buried in walls. That's strange. I'd like to know more about this. Maybe it's worth knocking a few holes in the walls to peek?
AugustaM (7 stories) (996 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-16)
I discussed it with a European history professor and he was quite firm on the purely legendary status of Henry's authorship. However, the story intrigued him and he said he would look into locations of known baby farms, Magdalene establishments and homes for unwed mothers. He said a slightly more specific location would be helpful but I understand if the writer does not wish to provide it. Shame on me, after the long discussion we had about everything else, I forgot to ask about the clothes!
RSAChick (115 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-15)
Great research AugustaM. I agree that the baby's clothes in the wall must be a very local or familial thing.

The_Morrighan, welcome, your history on Henry VIII seems accurate. Could you please give us references to the strong primary sources regarding Henry's authorship of Greensleeves?
I have read the same as AugustaM - there is no documentable evidence of him writing it. The style is Italian. But my research is based on Wikipedia 🙈
The_Morrighan (2 stories) (44 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-15)
Sorry to be pedantic but there are strong primary sources indicating that Henry VIII wrote Greensleeves during the courtship of Ann Boleyn.

Also Southern European influences were present in England long before this. The most relevant one I can give however, is very close to Henry VIII; his first wife Catherine of Aragon who was daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabelle of Castile therefore there were already very strong familial links with Spain.
AugustaM (7 stories) (996 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-10)
There is actually no documentable evidence that Greensleeves was written by Henry - in fact it's musical style is more reminiscent of Southern European styles, which didn't reach England until the time of Elizabeth.

I looked about trying to find any information on a tradition of immuring baby clothes and this is what I found:

Turkish traditions regarding treatment of baby clothes though not necessarily after death:

Another regarding Turkish birth traditions that perhaps hint in that direction but don't go directly there:

An American article dealing with articles commonly unearthed in historic homes in the US including baby *shoes* in walls for good luck:

There are UK and Egyptian (and possibly others) traditions of burying babies in and under homes.

I could find nothing directly pointing to the existance of such a tradition on a cultural level. Dissecting it logically based on historic realities - losing a child was not terribly uncommon in days gone by. Moreover, resources could often be scarce leading to more reuse and less discard. It would be more logical for those clothes to be retained for use by the next child. But grief does often cause us to place sentimentality above utility.

Perhaps I missed the key reference or the tradition was more local or even familial.

Do you know the history of the home? Has it always been in your family? Has it always been a private home? Could be that it was a home for unwed mothers or a "Magdalene Laundry"- such institutions were infamous and dreaded - the infant mortality rate often quite high. Interestingly, from an article I read about the "home" in Tuam, the young mothers often viewed the period of time waiting for the day they would have to leave (almost inevitably) without their baby as that of the Holy Mother awaiting the crucifixion. If you take the tune of Greensleeves paired with its (perhaps more) commonly known modern lyrics regarding Mary and her infant - the whole thing starts to make eerie sense.

In spite of whether their clothes are in the walls or not, it is a sadly quite safe assumption that young children have passed in a home over a certain age. Perhaps your grandmother is watching over them now - maybe the lullaby was her.
Waz1982 (2 posts)
5 years ago (2019-03-14)
Yes that song was composed by Henry viii and became one of the most popular classical songs of all time. He'd make a fortune in royalties these days;-D Great story!
RSAChick (115 posts)
5 years ago (2019-03-13)
Hi Maisiemoo, your story is well written. I enjoyed reading this. The babies' clothes in the walls is a sad and creepy thing. I never knew this was a custom. Does anyone know if this was unique to the UK?

Maisiemoo, can you recall if the music was a voice humming, or an instrument/s?
Your theory of it being a lullaby would make sense to me if it was a voice. Perhaps a residual haunting of a mom singing to her baby at the same time each night. However, your sadness on the last night might indicate more than just residual energy.

Do you perhaps know how old the house is?
Greensleeves is a folk song from the 1580s and already well known in the 1600s. So this haunting could be from hundreds of years ago.

Interesting story, thanks.

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