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The Serpentine - Hyde Park
      The ghost of Harriet Westbrook Shelley, the twenty-one year old first wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley haunts the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park.

      On the 9th of December 1816, Harriet, being quite unable to deal with the breakdown of her marriage, wrote this last sad note to her husband:

      "My dear Bysshe, let me conjure you by the remembrance of our days of happiness to grant my last wish. Do not take your innocent child from Eliza who has been more than I have, who has watched over her with such unceasing care. Do not refuse my last request. I never could refuse you and if you had never left me I might have lived, but as it is I freely forgive you and may you enjoy that happiness which you have deprived me of."

      She then walked the short distance from her lodgings in Hans Place, Knightsbridge and drowned herself in The Serpentine.

      Her body was discovered the next day and The Times newspaper wrote "that a respectable lady, far advanced in pregnancy, had committed suicide".

      Since then there have been numerous reports of a woman's face being seen under the water looking upwards beseechingly, and early last century, two female American tourists reported seeing a women’s hand rising from the water desperately clutching at the air above. Shining brilliantly on the middle finger was a plain gold wedding band.


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The Serpentine - Hyde Park
Photograph © Anthony Bliss 2004