Through the halls of Stubley Hall, a Saracen love song haunts the place with the sound of the harp.

A great hall during Christmas times with good food, merry guests and an unmistakable sound of a harp playing a love song. Scared yet? No? Sounds like the right vibe for a cozy Christmas time perhaps. But if the harp playing comes from nowhere, and no one is playing, scared then? This is what festive guests might hear echoing through the halls every Christmas Eve at Stubley Hall, reminiscing about the tragedy of war and love. 

Not far from Rochdale, Manchester in England, sits the Stubley Hall. Already in the 1600s, the hall was known for being “an ancient mansion with stables, barns, dovecotes and water mill”, so you know it is old, even by British standards. And such an old place carries many tales within the stone walls, and stories about the paranormal and sighting of ghosts has been plentiful. And one of them is the story about Fatima. 

The Crusader With the Diamond Studded Cross

The knight Ralph de Stubley lived here once upon a time, a knight who served Richard the Lionheart during the crusades in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the crusades Ralph joined in on, they saw it as a successful mission as they were able to capture Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria. But they never quite managed to seize Jerusalem, which they saw as a spiritual symbol and as the holy city. 


One of the more romantic, yet tragic tales from the crusade wars, was about one of Saladin’s daughters. Her name was Fatima and she fell in love with Ralph during the raging battle of the holy city.

However in 1192 the British crusaders had to pull out after the battle of Jaffa, and Ralph was forced to leave Fatima behind. But before leaving, he swore his undying love for her, promising her he would return. As a token, he gave her a diamond studded cross to keep as a reminder of him. 

The Harp of Love Songs

crop woman with cross on chain
Photo by Jonathan Borba on

Three years went by and Fatima heard nothing of the knight who promised to come back for her. Growing tired of just waiting she disguised herself as a troubadour and sailed across the ocean in search of him. Just bringing her harp she played so well but hadn’t been able to play in her sorrow. But she would never reach the shores of England to return to her beloved Ralph. On the eve of Christmas, she died. The plague had travelled with them on the ship and she and the rest of the passengers and crew perished. 

The same night there was a wedding at Stubley Hall, Ralph’s wedding. He was to marry a wealthy Baron’s daughter. Maybe it was only to save the family who were in need of money, maybe he fell in love with another one. Either way, the song of his past lover came to the hall. During the celebrations he was standing by the window, not enjoying the festivities. He was maybe thinking of her, the woman he truly wanted to marry. It was then he heard it, the harp. The familiar but now so nostalgic sound of Fatima playing the harp, playing none other than the love song she had played for him, a traditional Saracen love song. He rushed into the grounds, thinking he would see her among the trees. 

The guests noticed his disappearance and went after him and found him under an oak tree, dead, clutching a diamond studded cross.


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