The ‘Dark Entry’ is a passage which joins the Green Court and the cathedral buildings. It runs beneath the building known as the Prior’s Lodging (Image 1-3). According to a cathedral legend, made popular by Richard Barham in his Ingoldsby Legends, the passage is haunted by the ghost of Nell Cook. Nell worked as a servant girl for an elderly canon and became annoyed when he engaged in an affair. When the canon and his lover both died from poinsoned food, the finger of suspicion pointed at Nell. Her punishment was to be buried under the flagstones which pave the Dark Entry. Her ghost walks the area, particularly apparently on Friday evenings!
The Ingoldsby Legends were first published in 1837 and were widely read for the remainder of the century. The canon’s lover is said to be his niece, but Nell has her doubts:
“Now, welcome! welcome; dearest Niece; come lay thy mantle by!”
The Canon kiss’d her ruby lip — he had a merry eye,–
But Nelly Cook askew did look,– it came into her mind
They were a little less than ‘kin,’ and rather more than ‘kind.’
Sources: the full story of Nell is available at the web site detailed below
NOTE: to hear a Cathedral Podcast on the Dark Entry click here