Letter from Louisa Conyers to Thomas Hardy, 1916

[Page 1] Turberville Coach

2 Newlands



Mr. Hardy

Dear Sir

I have just been reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles and was extremely interested in it, having stayed at Bere Regis, especially in your reference to the family Ghost (if I may call it so) of the coach four

It recalled to my mind an episode which puzzled me much at the time. Some years ago my brother-in-law, a London Clergyman, took duty at Bere Regis for the summer holidays. [Page 2] I went with my sister to keep her company during the four or five weeks she was there. We were of course in the quaint old Vicarage. I had a front room, & the weather being hot, had my window wide open.

One night, about midnight, I was lying half awake and half asleep when it suddenly dawned on me that a coach was approaching, I heard the horn blowing & the galloping of the horses. As it approached nearer the shouting & clatter grew tremendously, & from first thinking nothing of it, I grew annoyed with the [Page 3] stupendous noise it was making: I thought what a shame in a quiet village, that anyone should be allowed to drive through in such a wild way, as I felt sure it would arouse every inmate. Just when it was at its worst, it suddenly died away. I sprang out of bed, & went to the window expecting that it had stopped in the village, & that there would be the talking & hurrying away of a few passengers. There was absolute stillness, no sound whatever, & after listening for some time, I returned to bed, wondering if [Page 4] the coach had proceeded down another road, where the declivity had suddenly cut off the sound. – I couldn't make it out at all, but expected next day would clear the matter up. as a coach arriving or passing though, with so much noise, I thought, would have caused a sensation in so small a village.

However, next day, tho' I men­tioned it to several people, & the country people themselves, nobody knew anything about it or would admit that a coach came through at night. For several nights I listened [Page 5] about midnight, in the expect­ation of hearing it again, but I never did so - now do you think I heard the phantom coach?

It really looks like it, tho' in that case, how should I a north-country lady, & having so far as I know, nothing, [ & no forbears], with any connection with the south-country or Dorsetshire, hear the D'urberville coach?

In one thing I can corro­borate the hearing of it as bringing bad luck. I date [from] the following year, two [Page 6] events which had a disastrous effect on my life, & from the effects of which I have not yet recovered - I put down to those things all the ill-luck I have suffered from for years. But perhaps I ought to now attribute it to the Phantom Coach?!

Hoping this may interest you, and thanking you very much for the pleasure you have given me in your books.

I am

Yours sincerely

(Miss) Louisa Conyers.