I should start with full disclosure, by stating this myth now is understood to be a fiction. Nonetheless it is a fascinating story from the mind of the reverend James Evans, who apparently spun the tale in the 60s to raise funds for the church around which the tale begins. I hope though, that you still enjoy the romance and intrigue, and find it was worth the time to explore. Here it is in my own words, I hope I didn't leave too much out.
The account begins on an island already surrounded by myth and legend. An island which is to be found just south of England on a world map. The name is derived from the Saxon word wiht, which means a creature or living being. The name today is the Isle of Wight.
The beginning of the tale centres on a 13th century chapel at the park gates of Gatcombe house, built by the family of Estur. Here is where Lucy Lightfoot came to pray.
The year was 1831 and Lucy was living in a hamlet by the name of Bowcombe. It was some distance from here to Gatcombe, even by horse, but seeing as this was the nearest church to her, she made the pilgrimage every weekend. This was not the only reason Lucy made the trek. Although her 20 years of life thus far had found her headstrong and beautiful, she did not find she was attracted to any of the local suitors, and feeling alone, would spend her time after church services, staring at the wooden effigy of Edward Estur in the church, who had been a warrior of the crusades.
His image lay on his side at peace with an angel at his head, and a faithful hound carved at his feet. He held a shield gripped in one hand and a steel blade with hilt containing a lodestone surrounding a gem of chrysoberyl in the other.
Lucy would sometimes find herself upon her horse heading for the church during the week lately, just to spend more time with Edward. When asked by a curious churchgoer why she stood staring so, she would simply state she was drawn there, and that she imagined his adventures in her thoughts and dreams.
On a morning of June in that year, Lucy was noted by a local to have tethered her horse to the church gate, as was normal before entering the chapel. Soon after, a total eclipse occurred. Darkness and silence befell the town, and a brief but violent storm raged across the district. Some hours after it had cleared, a local farmer noted Lucy's frightened horse still tied to the church gate, and entered the building in search of her. When no sign of Lucy was forthcoming, the rector was informed. Upon further investigation, Edwards's blade was found shattered on the floor, and the jewel from the hilt missing. Although an extensive search of the surrounds and local buildings were conducted over the next few days, Lucy was never seen again, and the reward offered by her parents for her whereabouts went unclaimed
This tale would be curious enough were it not for a reverend 35 years later in another parish, who stumbled across a manuscript while researching the crusades.. It stated that in 1363 the king of Cyprus had recruited many English knights in London for a crusade, among them included one Edward Estur who was accompanied by his mistress, a lady by the name of Lucy who hailed from the Isle of Wight. Both travelled to Cyprus before Edward departed for Alexandria, leaving Lucy behind with the promise of his return.
Tragedy struck when, although Alexandria was successfully taken, Edward suffered a severe blow to the head which left him unable to remember who or where he was.
For her part, Lucy waited in Cyprus in vain for 3 years for news of her love. After hearing no word she concluded he must have died in battle, and eventually she married a local fisherman.
Edward was eventually shipped back to England; his mind forever deranged by the blow to his head, and lived his remaining years in Gatcombe on the Isle of Wight. When he died he was placed in a tomb and in due course a wooden sculpture of him at rest was placed upon it, with a shield in one hand, and his own blade in the other.
I would just like to add that a gentleman by the name of Mark Wightman had been so interested in the story, as I was as a youngster, that he had written to the reverend to see if it was true. I think it only fair to leave the final word to the originator of the tale. He received in reply:
"Little did I think when I wrote the story of Lucy Lightfoot that I had given her invisible wings to fly to many places and to speed down the years. I must admit that the Crusader's to be found in the church, but I have taken the few white bones of history and covered them with the flesh of imaginative history."