In the depths of the Southern Necropolis cemetery in the Gorbals, Glasgow, sits what looks like the sort of old, worn statue you’d find in any graveyard the world over. Known as The White Lady, the statue is of a woman wearing a cloak, looking rather maudlin, or thoughtful. It’s also the subject of quite an interesting urban legend, which has been somewhat overshadowed by the myth of the Iron Jaw Vampire of 1954, also associated with the Southern Necropolis, and another story for another time.
The White Lady stands over the grave of Magdalene Smith and her housekeeper of several years, Mary McNaughton. Magdalene was the wife of a local carpet manufacturer, John Smith. She and Mary were heading home after attending church one night in 1933. It was raining heavily and the pair crossed Langlands Road, by Queens Park, huddled under an umbrella. Neither could see the traffic properly, and were hit by a passing tram. Magdalene died upon arrival at the Victoria Infirmary, whist Mary died a short while later.
It’s supposed that the ghost of one of the women haunts the White Lady. For decades, the story has gone around that the statue is able to move of it’s own volition. People have claimed that it’s head has followed them moving through the cemetery. Creepy. And even more bizarre is that the White Lady turns people to stone by staring at them. To avoid this, it’s advised to dance around the statue three times chanting, “White Lady, White Lady, White Lady.”
That is all that is known of the legend. It seems to be one of those strange little tales that float around Glasgow, such as the one about the ghost haunting the Dalmarnock Road bridge – rather vague, but well known. In fact, my Grampsie, who lived in the Gorbals whilst he worked on the railway, was surprised the White Lady myth was doing the rounds.
Having visited the Southern Necropolis to see the statue for myself, I can safely say, the head didn’t move, nor am I turned to stone. It’s rather curious how these legends come about. Mind you, this is just one of many coming out of that particular graveyard…