The George Wythe House is one of the 88 original buildings in the Historic Area. Not only is it one of the oldest, if you believe in ghost tales, it’s also reportedly one of the most haunted. According to various blogs, articles, and accounts from Colonial Williamsburg employees—an apparition in the form of a woman has been spotted on the staircase and the second floor of the home. Legend has it that it may be the ghost of Lady Ann Skipwith… a woman scorned.
The Wythe house belonged to George Wythe—presented to him as a wedding gift from his father-in-law. For those of you who don’t know Wythe was a prominent member of society and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. His signature is the first from Virginia to appear on the Declaration of Independence and he was the first professor of law at the College of William & Mary. He was also a friend of Sir Peyton Skipwith and his wife, Lady Ann. The couple often stayed at the Wythe House, especially for big events. In fact, it was a grand ball that allegedly brought them to the Revolutionary City that fateful night in the late 1770s.
There are conflicting accounts as to how Ann died. Many historians claim she passed away during childbirth, in her husband’s arms. But the more salacious version, the one ghost stories are made of, paints the picture of a womanizing husband—with a wandering eye.
This haunted tale starts at the Governor’s Palace during a gala where the couple got into a heated argument. In the middle of the party, it would appear Sir Peyton’s inappropriate flirtations hit a little too close to home. This time the “other woman” was none other than Ann’s very own sister, Jean (whom records show he married just a few years after his wife’s death).
Outraged, it’s said that just before midnight Ann stormed out of the ballroom and ran across Palace Green. In her haste, she lost one of her elegant red slippers. Some say it happened as she was getting into a carriage. Others say she lost it just outside the Wythe House before she ran up the stairs in a fit of rage. Either way, her evening appears to have met with the same tragic ending. Once inside her room, distraught and overcome with jealousy, Ann is said to have taken her own life.
For more than 200 years residents, visitors, servants, and now Colonial Williamsburg employees say they think Ann’s lovelorn spirit continues to roam the halls of the Wythe House.
From the smell of lavender, to slamming doors, to a woman’s reflection cast a mirror—there have been several reports of supernatural activity throughout the house. But the most common goes back to that slipper, the one she left behind in the throes of despair. Many people have reported the sound of it echoing through the rooms of the house.
With a grand ball, a midnight carriage, and a slipper left behind—the story almost sounds like a Colonial version of Cinderella. Only in Ann’s case, there was no Prince Charming who went chasing after her. And, it sounds as if she’s still searching for her happily ever after…
We will share more haunted tales leading up to Halloween. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on all the chilling accounts still to come!