Viola Lloyd, commonly referred to as the Lady in the Lake, is a major antagonist in The Haunting of Bly Manor. Although unknown to the members of Bly Manor, Viola is the one responsible for the death of numerous ghosts at Bly; most noticeably, she is responsible for strangling and drowning Peter Quint after he begins stealing from the Wingraves.
Born 1645, Viola Lloyd was the daughter of James Willoughby, the wealthy Lord of Bly Manor. After Lord Willoughby's death in 1676, Viola and her younger sister Perdita were the sole benefactors of the estate.
A headstrong woman and fond of the finer things in life, Viola took to her role as the Lady of Bly Manor, and was eager to keep ownership of the family home within the bloodline. As women, the sisters were left with limited options in their societal status — the sweet Perdita and witty Viola were met by many suitors, both local and far-flung, aiming to wed one of the heiresses. Viola knew they were only there for inheritance and riches, so all were turned away.
Later, a distant cousin named Arthur Lloyd arrived at the manor to meet with the sisters while Viola was away from the manor. Despite first catching Perdita's eye in Viola's absence, he swayed towards the imposing older sister upon arrival and they married shortly after in a business arrangement. Viola established herself as the authoritarian of the house from the outset of their marriage.
Birth of their daughter
After the wedding, Viola became restless, and would wander the house at night after sleeping fitfully. Arthur noticed this, and would sit with her at night in her restlessness. In the convenience of their business marriage, Viola and Arthur fell for each other, becoming parents to a daughter they named Isabel. After giving birth, Viola promised her daughter that she would become Lady of Bly Manor too one day, to successfully achieve her ambition in passing the family home through the bloodline.
Shortly after Isabel's birth, Viola developed an initially inconsequential tickly cough, which later developed to be diagnosed by a plague doctor as "the Lung" (likely tuberculosis). Following the doctors recommendations and despite Viola's best protests Arthur and Perdita moved her out of the marriage bed into a comfortable room to herself.
Viola was subjected to various desperate attempts to save her life, including leech treatment and incense burning to rid her of her ailment. When all proved fruitless, the Vicar came to her bedside to read a desperately ill Viola her last rites. Remaining true to her stubborn nature, Viola rejected all requests to repeat her rites, and refused to pass. Despite pleas from Arthur and the Vicar, Perdita praised Viola for her refusal to go, apparently giving Viola the strength she needed.
5 years later, a bitter and weak Viola has defied all odds to remain alive. After entering the sitting room to find Perdita and Arthur dancing together with Isabel, Viola strikes her sister and begins to continually accuse her of stealing her husband and her status as Lady of the house. Isabel is kept away from her mother, out of fear of passing on the infection, and the restless Viola wanders the halls of Bly Manor alone at night to watch her husband and daughter sleep in the bed she used to share with them.
Viola's progresses in both her illness and violence towards her sister, resulting in Perdita to plead with her to die, for the sake of Isabel and the memories she will have of her mother. Having apparently accepted her impending death, Viola orders all of her extravagant and beloved silks, dresses, and jewellery to her room, to save in a locked chest for Isabel to inherit once she comes of age. Arthur promises to keep Viola's last wish, and agrees to keep all of her item safe for their daughter.
The first ghost of Bly
During one of Arthur's many business trips away from Bly Manor in 1680, Perdita finally has enough and acts on her long-held desire to smother her sister, apparently hoping to put them both out of their misery. Arthur locks the chest and stores it in the attic for safekeeping, inadvertently trapping Viola's ghost in the chest. As the new Lord of Bly Manor, Arthur unsuccessfully meets with many suitors before falling for Perdita, and they later marry in secret despite Isabel's refusal to accept her aunt as her new stepmother.
By 1686, all of the family's riches have dried up, and Bly Manor has fallen into disrepair. Perdita desperately pleads with Arthur to open the chest and sell the riches locked away upon Viola’s death, reasoning that this could save them financially. Arthur furiously refuses, intending to keep his last promise to Viola for their daughter. Under the cover of darkness, Perdita steals the keys to the chest and goes to the attic to find if there is anything that can be salvaged.
Meanwhile, Viola awakens in a locked room she is unable to escape from. Having rejected her death when it was time, she has become the first ghost of Bly Manor. She is in a constant cycle of sleeping, waking, and walking around the room as her reflection grows more and more decayed, until she finally accepts that she is dead. Upon discovering her dresses and jewels in the dresser, she realises that she is inside the chest and waits patiently with hope for the day that Isabel will inherit her treasures.
One day, she hears the door unlock and waits with her dresses for Isabel. Instead Perdita, having opened the chest, enters the room and begins looking at the dresses. Overcome with fury, Viola strangles her sister, rising from the chest. Arthur enters the attic the next morning to discover Perdita’s body, and comes to believe that the chest is cursed.
After Perdita’s death, Arthur and Isabel abruptly leave the house, leaving behind the majority of their belongings. Before they leave, however, they dispose of the chest in the lake on the grounds of Bly Manor to end the curse, unknowingly abandoning Viola in the bottom of the water. Not knowing that her family have left the manor forever, Viola begins a new cycle of forgetting, sleeping, waking, and walking, from the lake up to the bedroom in the old wing to search for her daughter. When she finds the bed empty, she remembers all that happened to her. She walks back to the lake to sleep and the cycle begins anew.
After an unknown period of time, an outbreak of plague has turned Bly Manor into a makeshift hospital. After her path from the bed is disrupted by the same doctor who diagnosed her, she breaks his neck, thus creating the second ghost. She later kills the Vicar after an attempted exorcism. As time passes, her memory and identity fades, removing her facial features and identifying features to turn her into the faceless Lady of the Lake. After finding a child in the bed she shared with her family, she becomes confused; she can only remember she is looking for a child, and assumes this is the lost child she is searching for. Believing her task to be done, she takes him into the lake with her, killing him and turning him into the ghost seen by Flora Wingrave. She forgets this by the next time she wakes. She also goes on to kill Peter Quint after he disrupts her path in 1986.
In 1987, she is seen repeatedly in the background on her walk to and from the house, as well as when Flora protects Dani from unintentionally getting in her way. As Dani Clayton attempts to drag Flora away from the house after Peter’s possession of Miles Wingrave, Dani gets in her way on her approach to the house and is dragged by her neck up to the bedroom. Flora climbs on the bed to try and get the Lady of the Lake to leave Dani alone, but she believes her to be the lost Isabel. She carries her back to the lake, strangling Henry Wingrave on the way. Dani, however, invites the Lady of the Lake to possess her body and she accepts, thus freeing all of the ghosts trapped at Bly Manor.
Dani lives without trouble with Jamie for 10 years in America, occasionally seeing the Lady of the Lake in reflections. Years later she realises, after speaking with Owen and realising that Flora and Miles remember nothing, that she only has a matter of time with the Lady lurking below the surface. Her mental state begins to deteriorate as her sightings become more and more frequent, and after waking with her hand around Jamie’s neck, she returns to Bly Manor. Dani drowns herself in the lake, freeing Viola and becoming the new Lady of the Lake, who peacefully wanders the grounds of Bly Manor.
- She is the first one to die maliciously at Bly Manor, thus becoming the first ghost.
- Viola is the nemesis of Bly Manor; she is responsible for the death of Perdita, the Plague Doctor, the Vicar, an unnamed boy and Peter Quint.