Ghosts from Berkshire Places
Beginning with 'R'
Monkish ghosts have been seen in the
vicarage and the one-legged ghost of Admiral Boyer waddles up a staircase
in Radley College, though no-one has yet heard him come down again.
Watllington House is the oldest
secular building in the town. It was built by the clothmaker, Samuel
Watlington, in 1688. From 1794, it was the residence of Captain Edward
Purvis. He fought in the Peninsular War (at Corunna) with the 4th Regiment
of Foot; and, as an adjutant, trained the Berkshire Militia in Orts meadow
near his home. He was often used to sit in his window, pigtailed in his
red military jacket, smoking a pipe; and his ghost has been seen repeating
this habit ever since. The attic is also avoided at night because of its
There is an atmosphere of great
depression in one of the older bedrooms of the George Hotel. The
‘haunting’ does not appear to have an associated manifestation, but it
may be related to Civil War times when troops were billeted there.
In the late 1960s, a four-roomed
house in Oxford Street was haunted by the perfumed ghost of a grey-haired
old lady. Although the children of the Morley family who lived there
became too frightened to sleep upstairs, the ghost does not seem to have
been malicious. Mrs. Morley often saw the spectral figure in the kitchen
and elsewhere and Mr. Morley occasionally felt her presence, always
accompanied by the strong smell of flowers. She is thought to have been a
previous tenant, Mrs. Davies, who died in the house in 1961.
The Roebuck Hotel, on the A329 down
by the Thames, is haunted by an old admiral who particularly favours the
guest-room named after him. He re-arranges furniture, locks doors and
windows and hammers on the walls. His footsteps also pace the corridors
and the gravel outside, late at night. He is said to have died in the
building, sometime in the 18th century, under mysterious circumstances,
possibly involving fire.
vivid apparition of a Victorian lady used to be seen in the garden of a
house on the Bath Road, since demolished. She was described by a witness
as “a woman, very tall, dressed in a black dress, which just allowed the
tips of her shoes to be seen. She wore a huge white apron, with a large
bow at the back, and a white cap. In her hand, she carried a white swan-necked
jug, typically Victorian in character”. She used to walk to the edge of
the garden, where she would hold up the jug and turn on an invisible tap,
before returning towards the house.
London Street was, for many years, the home of the London Street Bookshop.
It was built on the site of an old Quaker meeting house which was much
frequented by William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. The ghost of a
man in Quaker dress, locally thought to be Penn himself, as been often
seen in the building, particularly on the stairs, in the attic and in a
notoriously cold passageway. One medium claimed, however, that this was
the spirit of a tenant, from the 1820s, named John Ascott or Ashcroft.
shoemaker’s shop which once stood at the corner of London Street and
South Street became quite famous in the 1870s for its hauntings.
blue car has been seen driving along Berkeley Avenue. It has no lights and
the engine makes no sound; but passes so close that the driver can be
clearly seen: a good-looking red-haired lady with her piled high.
The ghost of the infamous Mary
Blandy is thought to haunt both the ‘Little Angel’ and the grounds of
Park Place. She was a local
thirty-two year old spinster from Henley: a pretty girl with a £10,000
dowry. When her father died suddenly in 1752, it was generally accepted in
the town that she had poisoned him. They had argued because he would not
allow her fiancé, the Hon. William Cranstoun, to enter their house. The
two had been lovers for six years, often meeting along 'Miss Blandy's
Walk' at Park Place; but Cranstoun was found to be already
married with a child. It is said that he sent Mary some arsenic to
administer to her father while he was ill. After the latter’s death,
Miss Blandy was detained in her room; but, on finding the door open, she
went for a walk around Henley. The townsfolk were not happy and chased her
over the bridge into Berkshire where she took refuge with her friend, Mrs.
Davis, the landlady of the ‘Little Angel’. After Mary was finally
convicted, her last request was that, when she was hanged, for the sake of
decency, she should not be hoisted too high! Ever since, her spirit has
reappeared at their old rendezvous looking for the man who sent her to her
death. Furthermore, the Bucknalls, once the
innkeepers of the ‘Little Angel,’ still allege that for the first two
and a half years of their tenure (since 1952) they had a ghost upstairs
which tramped around slamming doors. Perhaps more easily associated with
Mary were the eerie rappings at the front door and, on occasion, the
spirit of an hysterical lady seen sitting on a couch.
Sometime at the end of the 18th century, a band of gipsies encamped around Park Place, close to the house, and made plans to burgle it. A young shepherd, however, learnt of their evil intentions and warned the residents. The gipsies, hearing that he had betrayed them, seized him at night and, having skinned him alive, left him in a dark ditch in the park, where he was found in a dying condition and just able to give information about his murderers. The ditch in which this cruel deed was perpetrated is, even to this day, appropriately planted with yew trees and his ghost is said to haunt this gloomy dell.
There is a curious story connected with the Devil's Highway, the Roman Road from London to Silchester. Where the road passes through Riseley one night in the month of October the rumble of Chariots is heard.
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