Mrs Hudson's Top Tips

 Mrs Hudson knows all about heritage places. Each month she comes up with some top tips for places to visit and days out around the UK. Whenever she can she takes her faithful dog Walpole with her too!

MRS HUDSON’S HALLOWEEN

I must come clean, I’ve never seen a ghost but I know lots of people who have, including Mr H, one of the most determinedly rational and scientifically minded of men. So they must exist. If you are in any doubt just take yourself off to any historic house in the country and you are sure to find the whiff of a ghostly past. There are lots of well-attested stories and here are a dozen of my favourites to whet your appetite for Halloween. 

ATHELHAMPTON

Monkey Business

Athelhampton was built in 1485 so it’s had plenty of time to accumulate a few ghosts.

A spectral duel between two Royalist cavaliers has been spotted in the Great Hall but most appealing is a ghostly monkey that scratches at the walls of the passage to be let in.


It was quite the thing to have a pet monkey in Elizabethan times and since the crest of the Martyn family who lived here then is an ape, its highly likely that the family would have wanted a pet monkey. In fact, you can see it captured in the stained glass in the magnificent hall windows.

CHILLINGHAM CASTLE

BLUE RADIANCE

Chillingham is full of ghosts as you’d expect of a wartorn border fortress and you can join a truly spine-chilling ghost tour.

My favourite spook is the Radiant Boy, once a regular sight in the Pink Bedroom where visitors reported being woken by screams followed by the approach of the glowing figure of a boy dressed in blue 17th century clothing.

Building works in the 1920s uncovered the skeleton of a child with scraps of blue cloth in the wall and when the remains were decently interred the sightings stopped. More recently, however come reports of a ghostly blue flash in the same spot in the room.

Torture Chambers at Chillingham Castle
Arundel Castle Library

ARUNDEL CASTLE

LITERARY GHOUL

Blue is also the colour associated with one of the most famous haunts at Arundel Castle where a man dressed in blue silk is regularly seen leafing through the books in the Library. Described as something of a 17th century dandy, the Blue Man has apparently been spotted there since the 1630s.

OWLPEN MANOR

LAST LANCASTRIAN

There is no shortage of ghosts at Owlpen Manor, perhaps the most surprising is the spirit of Margaret of Anjou, queen of Henry VI who led the Lancastrian faction in the Wars of the Roses.

She stayed at Owlpen Manor on 2 May 1471 on her way to the fateful Battle of Tewkesbury. She appears as a tall benevolent lady in a fur trimmed robe with a steeple headdress and seems to have a way with children.

Perhaps the night she spent here was the last happy night of her life. Her defeat at Tewkesbury led to the execution of her husband and son and spelled the end for the Lancastrian cause and she spent the rest of her life in exile. No wonder she comes back here from time to time. She appears in a room now known as the Queen's Chamber and your best chance of spotting her is, of course, on the anniversary of the battle.

Ghost hunters at Owlpen also report a black monk, a mischievous child and a bad atmosphere in a long sealed chamber once inhabited by an alchemist suspected of practising black magic.  Spooky indeed.

 

Hampton Court Palace

HAMPTON COURT PALACE

SCREAMIN’ QUEEN

At the centre of the turbulent Tudor Court, it would be a surprise if there was no ghost at Hampton Court Palace and of course there are several. Most famous of all is the ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth queen who can still be heard running screaming down the Haunted Gallery to hammer on the door of the chapel apparently trying to plead for her life with Henry who was at prayer. Shortly afterwards. In 1542, she was executed, aged around 18.

BLICKLING HALL

HEADLESS IN NORFOLK

Having also met a nasty death at the hands of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn is a popular ghost and pops up in lots of places.

Mostly famously, however, she is seen at Blickling Hall at midnight every 19th May, the anniversary of her death. She draws up with her head in her lap driven in a carriage pulled by headless horses and driven by a headless man.

Any sense of the story going a bit far are perhaps allayed by remembering that Anne was born at Blickling so might have a reason for staging such a dramatic return home.

BLICKLING HALL
Glamis Castle at Night

GLAMIS CASTLE

GHOSTLY GAMBLERS

Alexander Lindsay, 4th Earl of Crawford seems to have been a generally bad man in the 1450s and a story is still told at Glamis Castle about how he played cards until after midnight into the Sabbath when gambling was a sacrilege.

In the morning, he and his companions were found walled into a secret chamber doomed to keep playing cards for eternity. You can apparently still hear them at it and the secret chamber can only be revealed by marking every window.

RENISHAW HALL

PHANTOM KISSER

In the 1880s, several female guests who stayed in one of the bedrooms at Renishaw Hall reported being woken in the night with the sensation of receiving cold kisses.

When the room was altered a 17th century coffin was discovered under the floorboards. Although Renishaw has other ghosts, the supernatural caress has not been reported recently.

Renishaw Hall in Winter
The Saloon at Longleat

LONGLEAT

UNFORTUNATE FOOTMAN

In 1733 Lady Louisa Carteret married the jealous 2nd Viscount Weymouth and brought with her an entourage of servants which included a favourite footman.

When a rival suggested to the Viscount that his wife’s relationship with her servant was more than friendly, the Viscount had the footman thrown down the stairs to his death. As the Green Lady, Lady Louisa still haunts the passageway seeking her lost servant.

To give credence to the story, the skeleton of a man in Georgian livery was found buried at the foot of the stairs when central heating was installed in the 20th century.

LEVENS HALL

GYPSY CURSES

The Grey Lady at Levens Hall has been seen on the back drive quite recently. The story goes that she was a gypsy who came begging at the front door one cold night and, referred to the kitchen door, died before relief reached her.

She is said to have cursed the family so that no male heir would inherit until the river ceased to flow and a white fawn was born in the park.

Sure enough from the 1720s Levens passed through the female line until 1896 when, during an icy winter when the river Kent froze over, Alan Bagot was born, coinciding – you guessed it – with the birth of a white deer in the park.

Levens Hall
Llancaiach Fawr Manor Kitchen

LLANCAIACH FAWR MANOR

HANDY HOUSEKEEPER

Another house with lots of ghost sightings, and regular ghost tours, Llanfaiach Fawr Manor claims to be the most haunted house in Wales.

Most often encountered is Mattie or Martha, a 19th century housekeeper, who wears a long white dress and bakes bread in the kitchen. She apparently died tragically at the house but she sounds like a thoroughly desirable kind of ghost.

If you don't catch the swish of Mattie's petticoats, you may feel the touch of a hand or a twitch at your clothing from the ghost of a small boy who was unlucky enough to fall to his death from one of the upper rooms.

The figure of a man in deep thought may be Edward Pritchard, owner of Llanfaiach Fawr during the Civil War struggling with his conscience. He started the 1640s as a loyal supporter of Charles I but by half way through the decade had declared for Parliament.

 

SPRINGHILL

SAD AND ALONE

Olivia Irvine appears as a tall dark lady at Springhill. Her husband, George Lenox-Conyngham committed suicide in 1816 after the unsuccessful Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Left to bring up her children alone, the spectre of grief stricken Olivia has appeared several times in different parts of the house and is one of the best documented ghosts in Northern Ireland.

Springhill
 Good luck with your ghost spotting this Halloween although, frankly, I think you are just as likely to have a ghostly encounter at a heritage place near you pretty well any day of the year. You just have to be ready for anything!

One lucky visitor caught a ghost on camera at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk last year so if you have any spooky encounters this October, Walpole and I would love to hear about them.

Mrs Hudson is a pseudonym. She is not related to Sherlock Holmes' landlady or housekeeper, the cook in Upstairs Downstairs or any other Hudson fictional or real. The dog is real but doesn't answer to Walpole.