The hall was built in 1530, the Great Hall being the first part to be constructed. There were earlier buildings on the site of Speke Hall and it is believed that parts of these have been incorporated into the current building.
In 1531 the Great / Oak wing was added to the building as well as the North Bay.
Between 1546 and 1547 the west wing was added followed by the north range in 1598.
A porch was added onto the parlour in 1612.
In 1860 a dairy and laundry were introduced into the hall.
In 1795 the Watt family purchased the hall. When Miss Adelaide Watt, the last surviving Watt Heir, passed away in 1921 the hall was maintained by Adeleide’s butler, Thomas Whatmore and other members of her staff for 21 years until 1942 when ownership of the hall was passed onto the National Trust.
Today Speke Hall is still owned and run by the National Trust.
Reported Paranormal Activity
It has been told that a previous owner of the hall was having numerous affairs outside of his marriage. When the wife learned of her husbands philandering, she was so devastated that she killed both herself and their child.
Visitors of the hall have reported seeing the ghost of the heart-broken lady wandering the throughout the building along with unexplainable cold spots.]]>
The de Balun family was granted the manor house in 1096. It was then passed through to the Mortimer family by marriage followed by the Audley’s in 1301.
Walter de Heylon Leased Hellens Manor. Walter’s effigy can be seen in St Bartholomew’s Church.
In the 19th century the Radcliffe Cook family owned Hellens Manor. Charles Radcliffe Cook was born at Hellens Manor. Charles became known as the “Member for Cider” during his time as the local MP. Charles pushed the growth of the cider industry and believed that cider had healing properties.
Ursula and Alex Whaley rented the manor for ten years during the early 20th century. Queen Victoria’s great-niece, Lady Helena Gleichen gained possession of the manor. Lady Helena’s cousin, Hilda Pennington Mellor then gained ownership of Hellen’s Manor. Hilda created the charitable trust with her son Malcolm Munthe. The Charitable Trust still runs Hellen’s Manor today.
Reported Paranormal Activity
John Walwyn owned Hellens Manor during the 17th century. Johns youngest daughter named Mehettabel ran away to elope with a man who was considered lower than her social class. When Mehettabel was just 20 years of age her husband died and she returned home to her family at Hellens Manor.
Mehettabel’s family were ashamed of her and locked her in a room in the manor for thirty years. A piece of rope attached to a bell was the only way Mehettabel could communicated to her family if she was in trouble. The rope still hangs in the room today.
Over the years Mehettabel spent her time gazing down into the court yard and using her diamond ring to etch into the window the words “It is a part of virtue to abstain from what we love if it should prove our bane.” The etching is still there today.
Over the years Mehettabel’s ghost has reportedly been seen on numerous occasions by past owners and tenants of the manor.
The ghost of a Monk is said to haunt the Queen Mary room. It is believed that the Monk was being sheltered in Hellens Manor when he was caught by Parliamentarians and murdered. A Naval lieutenant was once sleeping in the Queen Mary room he awoke to what he thought was a crazy old man running around the bedroom in a dressing gown. When the lieutenant spoke of this incident with the owners he learnt that he had witnessed the ghost of the Monk.]]>
Gilbert d’Aquila founded the Priory of the Holy Trinity in 1229. Originally the building was in the shape of a cross with the Chapter house on the eastern side, dormitories on the western side and the kitchen and refractory to the south.
King Henry 8th had the priory dissolved in 1537 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. During this point in time the church and the eastern side were demolished and used for building materials.
In 1556, John Foote purchased the priory and converted the southern and western sides into a house.
Herbert Pelham who was an ironworker and landowner gained possession of the priory in 1587. Herbert added a stone wing to the building but he ran into financial trouble and was forced to sell the priory in 1599.
The first Earl of Dorset, Thomas Sackville purchased the priory in 1601. The priory remained within the Sackville family for the next three hundred years. During the time the priory was under ownership of the Sackville family, it was leased out to many farmers and barns were built surrounding the building along with other farm buildings.
A corn mill was built on the land during the late 19th century. When James Eglington Qwynne bought the estate in 1896 the priory was in a bad state of repair. James restored the buildings during the time of his ownership.
In 1928 Walter Godfry who was a well known conservationist architect restored the buildings further and in 1959 the Sussex Archaeological Society was given the priory. Renovations have been continued and the 19th century corn mill is now in full working order.
Today the priory is still in possession of the Sussex Archeological Society and is open for public viewing. Ghost walks are held at the priory every other thursday and the building is also available for hire as a wedding venue.
Reported Paranormal Activity
Michelham Priory is said to be haunted by the ghost of a servant girl who haunts the corridors of the building.
Sightings of a Monk have been reported along with smells of incense at the same time.
Lights have been seen shining through the priest holes.
Music has been heard playing from an invisible harpsichord.
Doors have been seen to open and close by themselves.]]>
Preston Manor is located in Preston, Sussex in England.
During the Domesday survey of 1086 it is believed that Preston had a manor house with a simple timber-framed structure but no trace of it exists today. In the survey the manor was valued at £25 with its own church, 12 ploughs, 8 oxen and an unspecified type of mill. It belonged to the Bishopric of Chichester.
A 13th century structure was built in stone and consisted of two rooms. After the dissolution os the monasteries the manor house became the possession of the Crown. In 1561 the Elrington family became tenants of the manor and when Richard Elrington died in 1569 he left the property to his widow, who then left it to her named Anthony from her privies marriage to William Shirley.
Anthony went on to get married and have 12 children. Anthony’s wife died 1 year before himself and when he passed on, the manor was left to their son, Thomas.
During the 1600′s Thomas made the first significant structural changes to the property with moulded entrance doors. A marble chimney breast, walled garden and a staircase and 1st floor were also added around this time.
In 1654 Thomas’s grandson named Anthony inherited the estate. As a member of parliament for Arundel, Anthony gained the favour od King Charles 2nd and in 1666 became a Baronet.
In 1683 Anthony died and his son, Sir Richard inherited the estate. When Richard died, his son also named Richard inherited the estate and died unmarried in 1705. Richards 3 sisters, Anne, Mary and Judith all jointly inherited the property. In 1711 Judith died unmarried and her portion of the property was shared between the 2 remaining sisters.
In 1712, Thomas Western Purchased Anne’s share of the property for £6’275. Soon after, the Western family were in full possession of the manor. Thomas was succeeded by his son, also named Thomas in 1733. in 1738 Thomas built the manor we can still see standing today use ding the 13th century structure as the core of the new building. When Thomas died, his 2 sons, Charles and Thomas inherited the property. Thomas, who was a Reverend, decided to swap his share of the estate for land in Essex, his brother Charles married a lady named Frances who was the daughter of a Colonial Agent in the American Colonies. Charles was tragically killed not long after they got married when his horse stumbled. Frances was so distraught she gathered their children, moved to Essex and never returned to the manor.
William Stanford bought the manor along with it’s 1000 acres of land in 1794 for £17’600. William had been brought up with his wealthy farming family in Sussex. The interior of the manor was redecorated and a columned screen was installed into the enhance hall. William married a lady named Elizabeth Avery who bore William two children. Both infants died in 1790. Anne died the following year.
In 1802 William married again to a lady named Mary Tourle of Lewes. Together they had seven children. William became the high sheriff of Sussex in 1808. By the time of Williams death in 1841 he was considered one of the richest private individuals in the country. Williams eldest son, also named William, inherited the manor and its lands. He lived there and continued farming the lands. The following year William married a young lady named Eleanor Montague Morris who was the daughter of a London solicitor. William and Eleanor’s first child was a boy. Unfortunately the baby died aged just five months old. In 1848 their second baby, a girl, was born. They named her Ellen. When William died in 1853 Ellen became the heir to the Stanford Estate.
Eleanor remarried the following year to Captain George Varnham Macdonald and together they had three daughters. Flora being the first born in 1857 followed by twins in 1866, Diana and Christiana who was more well known as lily. In 1867 Ellen married Vere Fane Benett of Pythouse and lived in Pythouse for their married life along with their son, John Montague Benett-Stanford who was born in 1870. Growing up, John became known for his erratic and eccentric behaviour. He worked on the railways after graduating from Eton and then eventually joined the army.
In 1981 trustees of the Stanford Estates were persuaded by Vere to purchase his family’s Pythouse and Wiltshire estates. Vere and Ellen bought a property in Madeira and a yacht with the profits made from selling the estates. Vere died in Madeira in 1894. Following the death of her husband, Ellen spent her time between London, Wiltshire, Brighton and Madeira. Ellen met a bachelor Charles Thomas in Madeira in 1896. They were married in 1897 and went to live at Pythouse. Charles owned a house in Norway where the couple spent most of their summers. Their winters were spent in a holiday home in Madeira which the couple purchased in 1902.
Eleanor died in 1903 and Ellen and Charles made preston manor their home in 1905. Alterations were made to the manor and its grounds by Charles Stanley Peach who was a close friend of the Stanford’s. The building was extended to make a dinning room and rooms for guests. A verandah was built to the right hand side of the entrance (five years later a verandah was built on the left hand side of the entrance to match the other side.). A porch area was added onto the rear of the building. The attic was converted, creating more rooms.
Charles became the Mayor of Brighton in 1910 and until 1913. The following year in 1914 Charles became a conservative member of parliament until 1922.
In 1925 Charles wrote it into his will that Ellen and himself wished Preston Manor to be passed onto the Brighton Corporation by deed of gift on the condition that the manor would be preserved as it was in its historic condition and that it would be open to the public as a museum. After both Charles and Ellen had died, the Brighton Corporation purchased the frontage to Preston Road and Preston Drove for £5000.
In recognition of his years of service to the public, Charles was made a Baronet and Ellen, a Lady. Both Charles and Ellen died in 1932 just eight months apart. Charles being the first to die in March followed by Ellen in November. The Brighton Corporation became fully responsible for the manor and its contents in January of 1933. As requested in Charles’ will the manor was opened to the public as a museum with artefacts relevant to Brighton and Sussex. Henry Roberts became the curator of the manor and he took up residence in the west wing of the manor with his wife and family.
In 1936 the corporation had the stables, lodge and gardeners cottage demolished to lay out grass and shrubs on the land. Sir Charles’ library became known as the Macquoid Room after a macquoid bequest was installed into the room in 1939. Preston Manor became an air raid precaution report centre, control centre and a base for a mobile First Aid post during the second world war.
The Mayor of Brighton invited Princess Elizabeth to tea at Preston Manor in 1945. This was the Princesses first public occasion.
When Christiana (Lily) died in 1947 the Mayor closed the manor from the public on the day of her funeral as a mark of respect. Henry Roberts died shortly afterwards in 1951 and his daughter Margery became the Honorary Curator of the Manor right up until 1970.
Money from the Heritage Lottery Fund provided the money for the walled garden to be restored in the 1990′s.
Today Preston Manor is owned by Brighton & Hove City Council and administered as part of the Royal Pavilion, Museums and Libraries department.
Reported Paranormal Activity
Preston Manor has been described by some as one of the most haunted houses in Britain.
Reported ghostly sightings include a woman dressed in grey, an excommunicated Nun with blonde hair, a disembodied hand and the ghost of a child riding a toy tractor.]]>
Bolebroke Castle is located in Hartfield, East Sussex in England.
The Castle was built around 1480 and is thought to be one of the earliest brick-built buildings in Sussex.
King Henry 8th used Bolebroke Castle as a hunting lodge when he hunted in Ashdown Forest located nearby for wild boar and venison.
It was from Bolebroke Castle that Henry courted Anne Boleyn after his annulled marriage to Catherine Howard.
Today the castle still contains many artefacts and pieces of furniture from the Tudor and Elizabethan reigns and is open to the public for tours, banquets conferences, activities, private dinners, children’s tours, B&B and self catering rooms.
Reported Paranormal Activity
Many people believe that Anne Boleyn haunts the castle and is seen walking through the castle, especially in the great hall.
Eyewitnesses claim that they have seen a nun walking around the castle as though she is looking for someone or something.
Male voices have been heard on an empty staircase.
Other activity includes an unexplainable howl, screams, vast and sudden changes in temperature, whispers, knocking on the walls and some visitors of the castle have even reported being touched by an invisible energy.
Somerleyton Hall is located in Lowestoft, Suffolk in England.
Somerleyton Hall stands on the site of an earlier building which was erected in 1240 by Sir Peter Fitzosbert.
When Peter’s daughter married into the Jernegan family, the male heirs of the of the Fitzosbert family were no more and the estate was passed over to the Jernegans’ who held it until John Wentworth bought it in 1602.
John had some adjustments made to the Hall, converting it into a typical East Anglian Tudor-Jacobean mansion. The Hall was then sold onto the Garney family and again to Admiral Sir Thomas Allin who was a native of Lowestoft. In 1665 Sir Thomas took part in the battle of Lowestoft and the battle of Solebay in 1672.
Sir Samuel Morton Peto bought Somerleyton Hall after the male heirs of the Allin family died out in 1843. Samuel had large parts of the hall and grounds rebuilt and redesigned by an architect named John Thomas. This took around seven years to complete.
Sir Frances Crossley of Halifax purchased the estate in 1863. Frances’ son, Seville was made Baron Somerleyton in 1916.
Today Somerleyton Hall is owned and inhabited by the current Lord Somerleyton and his family.
Reported Paranormal Activity
The ghost of a man called Joseph is said to haunt the cellar of the hall.
There have been reports of a young girl haunting the bathroom of the servants quarters of the hall and there are unexplained shadows pacing the attics corridors.
Thetford Forest is located in Thetford, Suffolk in England.
The forest was created after the first world war to provide a reserve of timber as the country had lost so much oak and other slow growing trees during the war. Thetford Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission.
Reported Paranormal Activity
There have been reports of a male ghost walking through the forest wearing eccentric clothes.
Shugborough Hall is located in Great Haywood, Staffordshire in England.
In 1693 the construction of Shugborough Hall had begun, replacing the earlier building which had stood there previously by William Anson. In around 1748 Williams great-grandson, Thomas Anson hired an architect named Thomas Wright to remodel and extend the hall.
During the 18th century the hall was altered and extended again by an architect named Samuel Wyatt.
In 1794 Thomas Anson married the daughter of Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester named Anne Margaret Coke. In 1806 Anne was made 1st Viscountess Anson. In 1843 Anne passed away and was buried at Shugborough.
The Tower of Winds, a Chinese-syled pagoda, a triumphal arch, a Doric Temple, a cat monument and a shepherds monument were all erected on the ground of Shugborough Hall around 1750 by the Architect James Athenian Stuart.
The Anson family gave Shugborough Hall to the National Trust in 1960 in lieu of death duties. Right up until April 2010 the family remained living in the house in one of the apartments.
Today the hall is open to the public and includes a working model farm museum dating from 1805.
Reported Paranormal Activity
Visitors of Shugborough Hall have reported seeing and hearing the ghost of a lady gently knocking on doors and hearing the rustling of her silk dress.
Sinai House is located in Burton on Trent, Staffordshire in England.
The Saxons used the local area as a stronghold.
The building which stands today replaced an earlier fortified manor of the de Schobenhale family.
The de Schobenhale family held courts and trials in the manor house and had a strong influence and generally ran the surrounding area.
The Monks of Burton Abbey were given Sinai House by the Schobendale family. The Monks built two houses on the site of the manor house. Today the two houses form the wings of the main building. The Monks used the two newer houses for resting and recuperation after Bloodletting activities.
It is thought the name Sinai derives from the word soignée which is the French word for Bloodletting. The monks were well known for their deer hunting and other activities including the odd murder!
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530′s Sinai House was acquired by William Paget who was the first Baron of Beaudesert. Sinai House remained in possession of the Paget family for the next 400 years. The Paget family later became Earls of Uxbridge and Marquises of Anglesey.
Sinai House was never the main residence for the Paget’s so Sinai was used as a hunting lodge and later as a farm.
In 1605 the Paget’s had the central section of the house built to complete the building and make it more grand with extra room to accommodate the families visitors.
During the 1700′s the Tudor-style chimneys were erected and a then very fashionable plunge pool was built into the grounds.
During the 18th and 19th century further building work was carried out around the house and its grounds, one reason for this could have been the fact that the tenants of the house were more well known and important at this point in time.
William Wyatt, brother of the well known architect James Wyatt was a tenant of Sinai House when his daughter was married there to John Smith. At the time John was working with James Brindley on the canals.
“The Mad Earl” was the last member of the Paget family to own Sinai House who unfortunately died in 1905.
Sinai House was then sold on as part of a settlement of the family debt. The house was then converted into six cottages and at one point in time provided a billet for RAF personnel.
When the house was condemned for human habitation, it provided shelter for pigs, sheep and hens.
Today, there are plans in place to restore the house to its former glory.
Reported Paranormal Activity
It has been reported that Sinai House is haunted by more than 45 ghosts and has featured on television programmes including Most Haunted and Time Team.
The owners of the house have reported regularly seeing figures from out of the corner of their eye along with shadows moving from one room to the other. The owners pets, especially the cat are often found staring and yowling at something that no one else can see.
It is believed by some that the house is haunted by a Grey Lady who, in life was a maid. The maid was seduced by one of the monks and as a consequence, fell pregnant by him. When the monk learned of the maids pregnancy he murdered and buried her in a field near by. Eyewitnesses have claimed to see the maid walking across the grounds and over the bridge on the moat, especially on New Years Eve. A number of psychics and mediums have claimed to have picked up on her presence.
Recently a visitor of the house pulled over to one side on a private road near Sinai House to let a horse and cart pass by. When the driver looked back the horse and cart was nowhere in sight.
A phantom coach and horses have regularly been heard by previous tenants of the house, pulling up the driveway.
Tamworth Castle is located in Tamworth, Staffordshire in England.
It is thought that Tamworth Castle was originally a Motte and Bailey which was built around 1070 by Robert le Dispenser.
When Robert died he had no children to pass his estate onto, so his property was left to his brother’s daughters, one of whom was named Matilda.
When Matilda married Robert Marmion in 1100, Robert inherited Tamworth Castle.
Between 1100 and 1294 Tamworth Castle remained in the possession of the Marmion family. The Marmions were Lords of Fontenay le Marmion in Normandy. All but the last heir was named Robert. Phillip Marmion was the last Marmion Lord to reside in Tamworth Castle until 1291 when Phillip died bearing no sons. The castle passed to Phillip’s daughter who died just three years later, leaving the castle to her niece named Joan and Joan’s husband, Alexander Freville.
The castle remained in the Freville’s possession until 1423 when the last Baldwin de Freville of Tamworth died when his only son was just two years of age. Unfortunately the son died in infancy so the castle was passed to the late Baldwins eldest daughter, Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Ferrers.
The Ferrer family held the castle in their possession for around 300 years between 1423 and 1681. The Ferrer’s transformed the castle from a fortress to a spectacular Tudor home.
During the late 16th century to early 17th century the castle was in possession of Lord Humphrey 2nd who want to make changes to the castle so it reflected his high position in society. Some of the medieval structures were completely removed and parts of the castle were remodelled.
For the sake of their own safety the Ferrer family had to flee Tamworth Castle during the English Civil War to their home in Walton on Trent. Once the war was over the Ferrer family returned to Tamworth Castle. After the death of John Ferrer 4th in 1680, the castle passed through John’s deceased son to his grand-daughter, Ann Ferrers who later married Robert Shirley.
King Charles 1st had Tamworth Castle garrisoned by William Comberford who raised a small Royalist force.
In 1643 Tamworth Castle was held under-seige for two days by Parliamentarians who also held the neighbouring town of Lichfield. Eventually the Parliamentarians captured the castle and held many of the Royalists garrison prisoners. William Comberford managed to escape the castle just before it was taken over.
Captain Waldyve Willington governed a small force who were left in control for the remainder of the Civil War. Around 170 soldiers and officers resided in the castle during the war.
In 1644 2200 Royalist soldiers tried to regain the castle but the Parliamentarians withstood the attack and remained in control.
Between 1688 and 1754 the castle was in possession of both the Shirley and the Compton family but neither of the resided at the castle and made few changes to it. Tenants rented the castle for a while during this point in time.
Lady Charlotte was the only surviving child of James Compton, 5th Earl of Northampton. When James passed away, Charlottes husband, George Townshend 1st inherited Tamworth Castle. George and Charlotte did not live in the castle because by this time the castle was in a bad state of repair but the external parts of the castle were still in good condition.
After Charlotte’s death the castle was passed down to their son, George 2nd who began extensive repairs and renovations to the castle.
George replace all the Tudor bay windows with gothic styled windows, the grounds of the castle were landscaped to create attractive family gardens and the top attic floor was removed from the Elizabethan wing. Unfortunately George died before all of the work was complete. During all of the building and construction work George fell into a vast amount of debt and upon his death his estates were declared as bankrupt.
John Robbins who was a lawyer from London purchased the castle before selling it back to the Townshend family shortly afterwards. The Townshend family did not reside in the castle themselves but rented it out to wealthy tenants instead.
Between 1844 and 1861 the castle was rented by a spinster named Miss Hester Wolfestan who died in 1861.
A gentleman named Thomas Cook then rented the castle from 1867. Thomas was a textile manufacturer who produced functional, practical garments for working class people and had some 500 people working for him. Thomas lived in the castle with his grown up family after he became a widower. When Thomas was 61 he married his second wife, Frances Wann who was just 35 years of age.
In 1884 Thomas and Frances had a daughter named Aethelflaeda. In 1897 the Cook family had to leave the castle when the Townshend’s decided to sell the castle on.
The Tamworth Corporation, which later became Tamworth Borough Council bought the property for £3000.
In 1899 the castle was turned into a museum.
Today the castle is open to the public and is available for hire for wedding ceremonies, school trips and organised events.
Reported Paranormal Activity
When the castle’s alarm was triggered a few years ago, an engineer was called out to reset it. While waiting for the engineer a member of staff was sitting in the reception by herself. Although there was no one else with her in the castle, the member of staff heard footsteps and a dragging noise coming from the Ferrer’s room. Gradually the noise grew louder and louder until the lady became so frightened she ran out of the building and straight into the arms of the engineer. The engineer was surprised to see her out side because he was sure he just saw her through the window of the Ferrer’s room just a few seconds before. Upon inspection of the room non of the furniture had been moved even though all of the banging and dragging had been heard.
A staff member reported being struck in the face and momentarily blinded when she was opening up the Tamworth Story Exhibition Room. After she regained her vision a few seconds later she reportedly saw a blue mist swirling around the room near the display of 19th century ceramics before it disappeared of out the window. The mist was around 6 feet high.
A Black Lady is said to haunt the Lady’s Chamber (also known as the Haunted Room). The Black Lady is believed to have been a 9th century nun named Editha. Editha was expelled from Polesworth Abbey by the first Baron Marmion.