|Bramshill House (south west front)|
Its been a busy week this week with a trip to the other end of the country from sunny Yorkshire (from time to time) to rainy Hampshire which from here is 'down south.' The two day trip was a days travelling down there on Wednesday and a workshop on Thursday and travelled back the same day which meant a long day in all. It's a long way to travel just for a workshop, but it was important and ultimately, it will be very useful.
|Bramshill House lake|
I stayed at Bramshill College, now owned by a quango of the Home Office and it's set in beautiful open grounds in beautiful countryside. The college buildings are fairly modern and well appointed for residents/students and the site has many facilities including its own lake. However, the pièce de résistance is the old manor house which stands overlooking glorious Hampshire countryside.
Regrettably not open to the public (although there are open days), the Jacobean house is a wonderful example of English Building opulence of the 17th century and of course as with all old large houses, it has its fair share of spirits, (and I don't mean drink in a bottle). Regular readers will know I am a Spiritualist, but I'll give a history of this beautiful old house before I tell one or two sad tales of yesteryear which has lead to many ghost sightings over the centuries.
|Details of the south west frontispiece and it includes one of my favourite images - a green man|
|Edward, Lord Zouche|
In 1605, the 11th Baron Zouche of Harringworth, Lord Edward Zouche (pictured left courtesy of Wikipedia) built Bramshill House on the site of a 14th century manor house in the Parish of Bramshill or Bromeselle. Nothing remains of that original house save for a single four foot nine inches thick wall. A travelled man and a diplomat, he was not a brilliant politician in the highest echelons of government, lacking some of the shrewdness required at the time of political and social upheaval in England. The house itself took 20 years to build, mainly through Lord Zouches' lack of money (many other large houses of a similar size were built in about 4 years). Zouche died in the house and although the whereabouts of his remains are unknown, he never lived to see the house fully completed and died without a male heir.
|The small lake next to the house where, legend has it, the Black Prince drowned in 1376, although the evidence suggets that he died elsewhere of cancer or multiple sclerosis|
King James I visited the house in 1620 and after World War II, the exiled King Michael and Queen Ana of Romania lived at Bramshill. Sadly, Edward the Lord Zouches' only lasting legacy is the house itself.
|A storm approaches from the south west - time to go|
Allegedly the 3rd most haunted house in the UK, ghostly sightings are stuff of legend and there have been many sightings, even in modern times and made by credible witnesses. There are too many to mention here, but I will cite you a couple of the most popular stories, again courtesy of material informally published by the college.
Today inside the entrance hall to the house stands an Italian oak chest known as the Mistletoe Chest. The story goes that a beautiful Italian Ginevre Orsini was married upon a Christmas Eve in 1747. After the wedding and the wedding breakfast, the bride, carrying a sprig of mistletoe challenged her husband to find her in a game of hide and seek. Her husband and family spent many hours and days searching for her to no avail. The heartbroken family left and started a new life in France. A few years later, they returned to their ancestral home and in preparation for their arrival, a servant opened the old oak chest to look for some linen. The chest was locked from the outside and when it was opened, revealed was the body of the bride, in her wedding dress still carrying the mistletoe. The chest was imported into the House from Italy and the ghost of Ginevre came with it.
The ghost of a beautiful young lady dressed in white, presumably Ginevre, has been seen often in the house and indeed whilst lodging at the house, the King of Romania asked staff to move his children to another room to prevent them from being disturbed by the lady in white who regularly walked through their bedrooms at night. The White Lady.
A Grey Lady, a member of the Cope family (who bought the house in 1749) has been seen for many years is still seen even today and she is always accompanied by the scent of lilies. This lady dressed in grey with blonde hair is always said to be sad and has been seen with tears rolling down her face. However haunting is not the exclusive job of women and there are many male spirits at the house including one man dressed in tennis gear. Ronald, the son of the last private owner of the House, Lord Brocket who died after falling from a train
There are stories of an old man with a grey beard as well as a gamekeeper accidentally killed by an arrow fired by the then Archbishop of Canterbury in 1621 whilst hunting. The nun in the chapel, the green man (Henry Cope), the Black Prince near the small pond, the gardener at the lake and the little boy on the terrace are just some of the other stories of ghostly sightings at this wonderful old house.