The Grey Lady
It is told that sometimes a light flashes on the second storey of the Estate and that a pale woman, dressed in a cloak, looks out of the window at the end of the building on the river’s side. On stormy nights, a grey figure appears from the shadows of the park’s forest and disappears again.
Every estate worth its salt has its own ghost. The stories of Grey Lady, moving about in the 200-year-old main building of the Jokioinen Estate, are living folklore even today. The history of the Jokioinen Estate dates back to 16th century. It has been governed by multiple prominent families, and at a time, it was the largest private-owned estate in Finland, consisting of the whole Jokilääni area.
The contemporary main building was commissioned by Provisional Governor Ernst Gustav von Willebrand and was finished in 1798.
The presence of modern science and research has not banished Grey Lady from her environment; on the contrary, the stories and sightings still go on.
Grey Lady is most often said to be seen in the room on the corner at the southern end on the second floor of the main building. The room is also called the round room or the yellow room. It has served as a guest room.
The Chemist’s Restless Night at the Estate and Other Sightings
In the 70s, a young chemist from elsewhere was lodged in this round room. In the morning, the chemist spoke of having spent a really restless night: in the evening, the attempts at reading in the adjacent room had been disrupted by continuous sharp knocks, even though when requested, no one came in, and the corridor was empty. When the chemist went into the round room, there was a dint the already made bed, as if someone had sat on it. The knocks were repeated many times when the chemist was going to sleep. As a late riser, the chemist had set two alarm clocks to ensure waking up at the correct time. In the morning, one of them had come to a halt and the other was not showing the correct time anymore.
In the 80s, a rigorous accountant from Helsinki stayed up late as everyone else went asleep. While doing the rounds, the night guard then observed an empty house, lights still on and the front door wide open. Without explanations, the accountancy was continued from Helsinki.
Later on it happened that two people, working in the same room, heard the sound of money rubbed together and saw a hand floating in the air appear on the doorway. When they reached the door, the corridor was deserted and empty.
The students of the farming school were not keen on hanging their laundry in the spacious attic, because on the staircase, an odd woman clad in a grey cloak and holding a child had been seen multiple times.
Who Is She?
Why has her soul not found peace? The others say she is old, the others young. E. G. von Willebrand’s wife Wendla has been suspected of being the Grey Lady, but there are many opinions on her identity. Has she been one of the servants? An old, long gone night guard has been told to have seen Grey Lady every time one of the Estate’s animals was threatened with illness. “Animal lover she is, whoever it is,” the night guard reportedly said often.
Is there, perhaps, a sad or romantic story associated with Grey Lady? Unhappy love and its consequences? Has an illegitimate child been born, perhaps, whose identity had to be concealed and who still demands compensation and justice?
The Jokioinen Estate has a colourful history and especially during the time of the Willebrands there were a lot of eminent guests who slept on the guest room at the southern end.
Between years 1799 and 1800, a well-known and popular poet of his time, Mikael Choraeus stayed as a tutor in the Estate. There’s an island in a stream pool of the rapids of the Loimijoki River whose Diary of the Fisherman he took care of and embellished with his poems. Choraeus enjoyed the company of the von Willebrand family so much that he visited Jokioinen also later. Was there someone missing and waiting for the young poet? The stories live, change, stay. Every storyteller, observer and sceptic has their own truth.
Nowadays, a traveller can, on visiting Jokioinen, get acquainted with the one-of-a-kind Estate area, the old buildings, the English-style garden and the park. From the corner of the southern wing of the main building, loosely following the river, a path leads to the shadows of the old oaks and to the grave of Provincial Governor and Mrs von Willebrand. Perhaps the wanderer is being watched from the second-floor window by a pale face, hidden by a cloak. Who knows.
The ceramic artist Katri Lahtinen, from Jokioinen, has created a figure of Grey Lady, an empty, folded cloak, perhaps very similar to Grey Lady.
Nothing, the artist has said, and the sentence is simultaneously a question.
Written by Laila Liski
Jokioisten historia kartanosta kunnaksi