The white lady?

The Lovers Arch












We have received this photo from an Ingress resident. The sender said that he took it early on a Sunday morning and once he looked at it simply filed it away. 

"Jane Vane swore profane,

Seedless Harry would remain,

But no heaven could she gain,

And lost alone she doth remain"

The curse of Jane Vane

(from a Victorian nursery rhyme)


However when looking for a suitable entry for our photo competition he pulled it out again and noticed the unusual white "staining" effect. Unusual as the cave wall in the Lovers arch has been maintained and is very evenly coloured.

"More for fun than anything I isolated the stain and pulled it into a separate file. It did not immediately mean anything to me but now, the more I look at this, the more it looks like a weeping figure"

Is this simple trick of the light? A Hoax? Or could it be that the camera has caught the spirit of one of Ingress Park's earlier residents.

There is a prime candidate in the form of Jane Vane (or Fane) the last Abbess of Dartford. Ingress Park once formed part of Dartford Abbey's property. The Abbey was founded in 1356 but with Henry VIII's break from Rome in the sixteenth century things went very wrong.

Three of the Sisters saw their own brothers hang for refusing to take Henry's Oath of Succession. Then he turned on them and in 1538, Henry's  decision to confiscate the property of the church came as a devasting blow to those within the Abbey.

The Priory was dissolved 1539 and the nuns were sent away.  The buildings were torn down and the rubble used for the manor house that the king built for his own use. 

The nuns were reunited under Mary Tudor, first at King’s Langley, then, on September 8th 1558, after the death of Queen Anne, in Dartford: a sad homecoming. Even the tombstones had been torn down to pave a new water culvert. 

Queen Mary died a few weeks later and the nuns were exiled a second time under Queen Elizabeth for refusing to take the Oaths of Supremacy and Uniformity. The property of the convent was sold before their eyes at a very low price and they were given twenty-four hours to leave. The Spanish Ambassador shipped the pathetic little band of aging nuns to Antwerp. They lived in extreme poverty, sometimes in hiding as the Reformation swept across the Low Countries.

A short time before the dissolution of the monasteries, Jane Fane Prioress of the convent at Dartford let the estate to Robert Meriel of Swanscombe on a lease at an annual rent of £10 and there is a suspicion that she returned to Ingress when Mary was on the throne, possibly to reignite a relationship with Robert Meriel. However Robert would have been unwilling to risk public scorn at such a strange affair and would be unsure of the continued power of the Abbess and he spurned her

Legend has it that the Jane cursed Henry VIII and all his male descendants, for confiscating the property. This curse was to continue on all future owners of the estate, to the effect that no male heir should ever live to inherit the estate.

When the property was desposed of by Queen Elizabeth I, it passed to Edward Darbshire and John Bere. There are stories from that time of a woman living wild on the estate, wearing nuns robes,  shy of all contact but sometimes to be heard cursing the old King, her god and her fickle lover.


In the reign of Mary Tudor, the return to Catholic worship was welcomed, but now rigour and cruelty were turned against Protestants. Christopher Waid, a simple linen-weaver of Dartford, was burned at the stake,  a very brutal death,  near the Brent, on East Hill, on July 19th 1555. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs tells us that at his martyrdom he prayed,

"Show me a token for good, that they which hate me may see it and be ashamed, because Thou, Lord, hast spoken to me and comforted me. "