Northern England may not be the place you’d expect to find the tale of a mummy’s curse but Low Hall, a country house at Scalby, just outside Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast, is reputed to have just such a curse.
The story began in 1904, when John Rowntree, eldest son of Joseph Rowntree (the philanthropist and social reformer, and owner of Rowntrees chocolate factory in York) returned from his travels, bringing with him the mummified remains of an ‘Egyptian princess’, though just who she was no one seems to know. Those wealthy Victorian collectors did love their Egyptian antiquities (ok... i know technically 1904 was no longer considered the Victorian era but you know what i mean). Anyway, he was dead within the year (aged 36). The Mummy was kept on show in a glass case in the library at Low Hall after his death and the story of it being cursed continued to grow. His son Lawrence was killed in world war 1, but so were many others, so why this was attributed to the mummy’s curse I’m not sure. The mummy was then moved again, to a pavilion on the grounds of Low Hall. Some years later (about 1936) the family asked the head gardener (Mr. Jack Hardwick) to rebury the ancient body in the grounds of the house, which according to his daughter Mrs Val Crosby, he did, though by that time it was deteriorating badly. And so the curse was laid to rest.
Except that apparently it wasn’t, as in the last 20 years or so, residents at Low Hall, which by this time had become a convalescent home for Yorkshire coal miners and their families, began reporting strange happenings. Some people reported a malevolent atmosphere in the library, and many of the residents said they felt a hand on their shoulder but when they turned around no one was there. The caretakers dog refused to go into the library at all, staff refused to enter certain rooms where footsteps could be heard when there was no one in the rooms, and doors would reportedly open and close on their own. There was also a blue light which was sometimes seen hovering over the kitchen garden where the mummy was buried.
So, about 10 years ago, plans were made to locate the mummy, dig it up, and return it to Egypt, and one of the people involved was the noted Egyptologist and archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass, who was part of a campaign to return stolen antiquities to their countries of origin. And rightly so. However, at the present time (2015) this does not yet seem to have happened as the burial site is said now to be either under a golf course or under the bowling green ! Apparently it's more sacrilegious to dig up a golf course than it is to dig up an ancient Egyptian body.