The Independent on Saturday, March 1998
Always keep a promise ... or your house might fall down and you could be haunted by a fat butcher from Wapping. This is what happened to the Tichborne family when they failed to honour a promise made 600 years ago.
On her death bed the good Lady Mabella Tichborne asked her husband to agree to give a yearly hand-out of flour to local poor villagers every Lady Day. Nasty Sir Roger would only promise if his dying wife crawled round a field. This she did, and the field is still known as The Crawls. Before she died, Lady Mabella put a curse on her heirs if they ever ignored the promise made to her. When the Dole of flour was temporarily stopped in the late 18th century, the curse came into force. Family disasters followed, culminating in the appearance of a false heir to the Tichborne fortunes.
After a very long trial, which used up much of the Tichborne money, the claimant was discredited and imprisoned. He was proved to be Mr. Orton, a plump butcher from East London. The promise made to Lady Mabella has been honoured ever since.
Dole is given out to villagers from the steps of Tichborne House, Tichborne,
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