Thomas Howard, the Fourth Duke of Norfolk, had died a 'martyr to history', the Rev Francis Edwards told the congregation at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Covent Garden. 'The Duke was given a raw deal by his contemporaries . . . he was guiltless . . . the charge of treason was trumped up.'
The Duke was beheaded in 1572 for plotting to marry Mary Queen of Scots in an attempt to seize the crown. Since then his headless ghost has been seen by several people in a building close to the place of his execution - Coutts Bank in the Strand.
Now the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, the Earl and Countess of Arundel and about 50 other relatives and friends at the service yesterday, hope he will find peace.
Last year Coutts asked Eddie Burks, a retired civil engineer and psychic consultant, to investigate sightings of the headless figure. Mr Burks claims the ghost visited him, chastising his 'rescuer' for waiting so long before offering to help.
In church Mr Burks also described a woman dressed in white who radiated beauty. This was met with baffled silence from the congregation. The Duke of Norfolk had already confessed to reporters outside the church that he did not believe in ghosts.
One visitor was a little more vocal in his dissent. In beaten shoes, trousers with rips and a bloody cut on his face, he yelled: 'You are all a bunch of hypocrites. This is the house of God.'Reuse content