The Life and Tragic Death of Lily Cove

There are many graves in Haworth that have caught my eye, but nothing stands out quite like Lily Cove, who’s tie to the village is quite a tragic one.

Lily’s parents, Thomas and Annie were never married. However, on November 7th 1885, in Poplar, London, they welcomed their baby girl, Elizabeth Mary Cove into the world.

Sadly, Annie’s life was short lived, and for most of her childhood she was brought up by various relatives due to her father’s prison sentences. Lily flew the nest aged 15, 2 years later than her peers. She served as a nursemaid and servant at a psychiatric hospital for girls for her first job. 

Lily Cove's Introduction To The Skies

At the age of 16 she begun her training to become an aeronaut. At the age of 19 she was under the employment of a gentleman named Captain Fred Bidmead. 

In a nutshell, an Aeronaut is a person who floats up in a balloon then parachutes to the ground. Lily enjoyed exposing her bloomers and knickers by removing her skirt before her act. This was a move that she became famous for.

On June 8th 1906, Fred and Lily checked into the Old White Lion Hotel. I’m not sure which room Fred had but Lily was in room 7; which adds to the story later. 

Her Tragic Death

It was the day of the Haworth Gala in 1906. Following a mishap with the previous balloon, and to a mere 6000 peoples disappointment, the event was postponed. On the Sunday Captain Bidmead took to repairing the balloon and on the Monday, claimed the apparatus was safe to ascend with. Cove took off from a playing field with confidence on West Lane. 

After some time Lily was nowhere to be seen, except from one witness who saw her ‘cartwheeling’ to her death from the skies of Scar Top over Ponden Reservoir. Some believe that Lily had unhooked herself midair due to her fear of water when floating over the reservoir. We will never know.

Lily’s body remained in room 7 until her burial, and her spirit it said to haunt the room to this day. Other sources say that the Kings Arms across the road also served as a mortuary. I prefer the first story since I like to attend weekly quiz nights at The Kings Arms.




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