The Legend of Bleeding Heart Yard.
Elizabeth Cecil, widow of William Hatton who inherited the Palace on the death of Christopher Hatton, herself inherited the property despite legal action to prevent it by four Bishops of Ely.
She was young, rich, beautiful and a lively socialite whose Thursday night “at home” was considered one of the ultimate glamorous occasions. She died suddenly one night in 1646. The door to her wine cellar had jammed and resisted all the efforts of her servants. She was heard to say that the devil could fly off with her if she could not force the door open. Later that night, a tall dark stranger entered her soiree and was seen dancing with her and then she disappeared.
“ Out of the courtyard, and just in that part
Where the pump stands, lay bleeding a
LARGE HUMAN HEART
Of blood and brains,
Which had not been washed off, notwithstanding the rain,
Appeared on the wood and the handle and the chains
As if somebody’s head with a very hard thump
Had recently knocked the top of the pump”
That courtyard survives. It is called Bleeding Heart Yard.
Bleeding Heart Yard – and engraving by Walter Thornbury, taken from his book, Old and New London, published in 1873 – 1888