Friday, 30 August 2019

Hauntings of Barnwell Priory Old Abbey House Cambridge

In his 1980's book "Timpson's England a look beyond the obvious" author and broadcaster John Timpson writes of Barnwell Abbey:

"For sheer variety in ghosts it would have been difficult to beat Barnwell Abbey House in Cambridge. There was a squire, and a White Lady, and a poltergiest, and a disembodied head. There was also the statutory clanking chain and, less likely, a ghostly squirrel and a hare."

Timpson goes on to suggest combining all the above into one ghost story but concludes with:

"But alas it is too late. All that remains is a building called Cellarers Chequer and these restless spirits with their ghostly menagerie must have long since departed."

But have they?

Barnwell Priory itself fell victim to the Reformation and was dissolved in 1538 subsequently falling into ruin, Abbey House was built on priory land and Abbey House is reputed to be very haunted.  

One ghost is that of Squire Jacob Butler, the oldest barrister in England. He inherited the Barnwell Priory Estate in 1714 and kept it until 1759 when he sold it for 9,999 guineas.

Squire Jacob Butler was very much a larger than life character, not only in physique, at 6ft 4ins in height he was tall for his time, but also in habit. He oversaw the St Bartholomew's Day Stourbridge Fair Booths, at one time one of the largest medieval trading fairs in Europe, and was quite a stickler for seeing that traders observed the rules. One year, when traders failed to leave their pitches on time, he drove his carriage through the crockery stalls causing untold damage to the traders wares.

He was fascinated by the "freak shows" at such fairs and always invited the dwarfs and giants to dine with him when the fair was on. 

Butler was reputed to want good value for money, with this in mind he commissioned his coffin well before his death and proceeded to use it, upturned, to play cards on. He was also known to lie down in it when he was tired.

He lived to the ripe old age of 84 dying of grief shortly after the death of his pet dog whom he had taught to accompany him whilst walking on its hind legs.  

Jacob Butler left very specific instructions with regard to his funeral, obviously he was to be buried in his specially commissioned coffin, which was to be taken to St Andrews the Less church by cart drawn by his favourite horses, Dragon and Barg. The coffin was to be interred either at the church or in the grounds of Abbey House. 

Unfortunately due to the massive size of the coffin, it's said that it was large enough to hold several bodies, Butler's executors simply had his body placed in the family vault. 

Maybe that's why Squire Jacob Butler continued to visit Abbey House along with his dog for years after his death. 

Abbey House residents, Professor and Mrs Lawson, gave detailed accounts of the apparitions that appeared during their tenancy of the old Barnwell Priory Abbey House, 1903 - 1911 which included a little brown animal, presumed to be Squire Butler's dog, they named it Wolfie.

"Wolfie" was also seen by other young children over the years including Christopher who in 1947 declared, "Oh look! Tiny doggie!" 

The Lawson's also experienced banging on doors, the sounds of heavy footsteps and regular visitations from a nun who, between the hours of midnight and 4am would walk to the foot of the bed in the master bedroom where she would stand for a few moments before turning to walk toward the window and vanish.

Local folklore has it that the nun was from the Benedictine nunnery of St Radegund who visited her lover, a monk, via a tunnel that was said to link St Radegund's with Barnwell Priory. She was eventually caught on her nightly sojourns and tradition says she was bricked up in the tunnel. Although no skeleton has been found apparently evidence of the tunnel was found during excavations for the building of the Elizabeth Way bridge. 

In the 1920s a disembodied head was reportedly seen at the foot of a Mrs Ascham's bed. This was investigated by the President of the Society of Psychical Research, Professor F J M Stratton, who reported hearing mutterings and singing from an empty room. 

A more modern ghost was witnessed during the 1980s, along with a procession of 5 or 6 white nun type figures. The modern apparition was that of a grey haired gentleman dressed in a grey jacket, a coloured shirt and a dark tie, he was surrounded by a bright light.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Ghost of Lady Daresbury - Frances Eliza Griffith (Greenall) at Walton Hall a June Haunting

Frances Eliza Griffith, Lady Daresbury, first left in the above photograph and pictured below with her husband Gilbert Greenall, Baron Daresbury (on the right) is believed to be one of the ghosts that haunt Walton Hall near Warrington.

Lady Daresbury died in her bathroom in the 20th century, Walton Hall is now open to the public and apparently those visiting her adjoining bedroom risk something unpleasant happening to them if the ghost of Lady Daresbury does not approve of them! 

Lady Daresbury's ghost has been seen on the main staircase where some people have felt as if they have been pushed. Are those who have been pushed the one's who did not win the approval of Lady Daresbury?

In his 1970's book, "Haunted Britain A guide to the supernatural in England, Scotland and Wales",  Antony D. Hippisley Coxe writes about an occurrence that takes place in June where a bolted door opens then slams shut after about 30 seconds. This is attributed to the ghost of an elderly 18th century lady who died in her bathroom.     

Does Walton Hall have two female ghosts who both happened to die in their respective bathrooms?

Walton Hall has been visited by the Most Haunted team and at the time of writing the TV episode is available for viewing on YouTube

Friday, 8 February 2019

Ghost books a room at The Coach House Inn Chester

Here's an interesting ghost story from The Coach House Inn, Northgate Street, Chester, formerly known as The Coach and Horses Hotel, the event described below took place in 1988.

A room was booked and paid for in cash by an elderly gentleman who had been drinking in the hotel bar, he said he was going to take a walk around the city walls before retiring but never returned. The barmaid who'd taken the booking was concerned for the man's safety as he had told her that his wife had recently died and that he really didn't want to go back to his own house, so the police were called.

The police checked the address the gentleman had given to the hotel but was told by neighbours that both the man and his wife had died some eight years previously.

A ghost who is able to purchase drinks and pay for a room with real, not ghostly, money! Is this possible? 


Monday, 31 December 2018

Anne Boleyn's Spectral Coach in Essex ~ A New Year's Eve Haunting

Anne Boleyn's spectral coach makes an appearance on the roads around the former Runwell Hall, Wickford, Essex on New Year's Eve.

A Toby Carvery, The Thomas Kemble, on the site of Runwell Hall it is visited on 31 December by the ghost of a woman travelling by horse and carriage, it's said that she is met at the door by a phantom butler.

Visitor information:

The Thomas Kemble Toby Carvery restaurant and pub is on the site of Runwell Hall.

The Thomas Kemble
Runwell Rd
SS11 7QJ

Telephone: 01268 769 671

Friday, 28 December 2018

Ghosts of The Tay Bridge Disaster ~ a December Haunting

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away 
On the last Sabbath day of 1879
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

Sunday 28th December, during a violent storm, the railway bridge over the River Tay collapsed plunging the Wormit to Dundee train into the river. 

So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay.
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way.
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Beacuse ninet lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

 All lives were lost, it's believed there were up to 75 people on board but only 46 bodies were recovered. 

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o'er the town,
Good Heavens! The Tay Bridge is blown down.
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill'd all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale.
Because none of the passengers were sav'd to tell the tale
How the disaster happen'd on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

It's said that on the anniversary of the disaster the disaster is replayed at 7.15pm,  a ghost train crashes into the river amidst the screams of passengers. 

Poem: extracts from "The Tay Bridge Disaster"by William McGonagall,

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Haunted Marwell Hall ~ Jane Seymour and Anne Boleyn's connection to the legend of The Mistletoe Bride

The ghost of Jane Seymour is said to walk the corridors of Marwell Hall. It was home to one of her brother's, Sir Henry Seymour, and is believed to have been visited by Henry VIII several times. Local folk lore suggests that Henry and Jane married there shortly after the execution of Anne Boleyn but prior to their official 30th May wedding at Whitehall Palace.

Anne Boleyn is said to haunt the Yew Tree Walk seeking vengeance on Jane for stealing the King's affections.
Other ghostly activity at Marwell includes phantom footsteps, moving objects, voices, shadowy figures, the sound of heavy objects being moved and poltergeist activity.

Marwell Hall is one of several old English houses that lays claim to the Mistletoe Bride. The tale, popularised in the early 19th century By Thomas Bayly's Christmas ballad “The Mistletoe Bough”, tells of a game of hide and seek that goes horribly wrong. During a Christmastime game of hide and seek a young bride gets locked in an old chest. No one can find her and she dies in the chest, her body is found many years later. Other claimants to the Mistletoe Bride include Bramshill House in Hampshire, Castle Horneck in Cornwall, Berkshire's Basildon Grotto, Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, Exton Hall in Rutland, Norfolk's Brockdish Hall and Bawdrip Rectory in Somerset.

Visitor information:

The Marwell Hall Estate is owned and run by the registered charity Marwell Wildlife. The Hall sits in the centre of the wildlife park.
Marwell Wildlife is open everyday except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Marwell Hall itself is available to hire for special functions.

Marwell Wildlife
Colden Common
SO21 1HJ

Telephone: 01962 770 549


Wednesday, 26 December 2018

The Ghost of Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle

Anne Boleyn's family moved to Hever Castle, Kent in 1505, Anne spent her childhood at Hever and continued to visit throughout her life. In 1528 Henry VIII's love letters to Anne were sent to Hever.
Anne Boleyn is said to haunt the area under the old oak tree where Henry courted her.

Her ghost also visits Hever at Christmas time. Local legend tells that the ghost of Anne Boleyn can be seen on Christmas Eve walking in the grounds across a wooden bridge over the River Eden. Some say that she stops on the bridge to drop a sprig of holly into the water below.

In the late 19th century Ada Coralie Meade Waldo, wife of the famous ornithologist Edmund Gustavus Meade Waldo who owned Hever at that time, complained that the ghost of Anne Boleyn made Hever Castle unpleasant. The Meade Waldo's didn't live at Hever and eventually sold it to William Waldorf Astor.

In recent years photographs taken by visitors to Hever castle have feature orbs and other unusual images which the photographers think may be the ghost of Anne Boleyn. Liam Archer published a book about his 2009 visit to Hever containing photographs that he believes to be of Anne Boleyn's ghost.

In 2013 Kent News published a photograph, taken by medium Christine Hamlett, of an orb that appeared to be ascending a staircase. Christine wonders if it is Anne's spirit wandering Hever castle.
Another medium who visited Hever in 2013, Rob Gutro, immediately sensed the ghostly presence not of Anne but of her brother George Boleyn. Rob, who is an author of several books about communicating with spirits, believes that the spirit of George Boleyn still resides in Hever Castle.

Poltergeist activity has been recorded in the Long Gallery which is also said to be haunted by a horse and rider.

The ghost of an unknown man has been seen in one of the bedrooms and the ghost of Humphrey, a local farmer, appears in the grounds where he was murdered.

Visitor Information:

Hever Castle is open to the public, please see website for details.

Hever Castle & Gardens

Telephone: 01732 865 224