|ISLE OF WIGHT GHOSTS|
A brief manifestation of the hauntings and strange events that surround the villages and buildings on this enchanted isle.
The manor was acquired in 1050 by Edward the Confessor and it is recorded as being there long before this. The church owned it at one time and it was under the care of an abbot along with a community of monks.
The manor looks peaceful enough but under this roof there have been many dark deeds.
One particular room that opens from the great hall a silvery grey figure has been seen and it is believed to be the host of a monk that once lived here when the manor was in the hands of the church. The sighting is also accompanied by a smell of incense and there is the sound of chanting.
Count Slade de Pomeroy was once the owner of the manor and it is recorded that he often woke to the sound of tapping on the door to his bedroom. He is reported to have said that he had ignored it as if he opened the door there would be nothing there.
But one time he did in fact open the door and was shoved back by unseen hands, his housekeeper who was there at the time said that she had seen two monks enter the room and one of them had pushed him from the doorway.
Many years later a guest at the manor who had no idea of these sightings noticed a small room leading from a landing, opposite was another larger room. The visitor had an uncomfortable feeling and she turned pale and became disorientated so much that she could no longer stay. She said a sense of foreboding had overwhelmed her and also had the feeling of being watched
Later the count related another story concerning the landing. James and Thomas who were the two older brothers of Mrs Barnaby Leigh once fought a duel to determine which one of them would inherit the property. One of the brothers was killed and three days later the other brother died from wounds he had received.
The title to Arreton Manor did lie with Barnaby Leigh during the reign of Elizabeth Ist, and he was known as a wealthy man.
It is also recorded that when he lay on his death bed his son John smothered him with a pillow so as to gain the inheritance. But on looking up after doing this dastardly deed, John, noticed Annabel, his younger sister standing there watching, and in his panic he dragged her upstairs and threw her to her death from the highest window.
It is said that there is an area in the room that is permanently cold and the ghost of little Annabel is often seen and heard in the grounds of the manor. Many times it is said that she is calling out "Mamma, Mamma".
The house is often open to the public and on occasions there have been reports of a sighting and one particular time a little girl told her mother she had been trying to make friends with a girl in blue but she disappeared through a brick wall.
It was on a January evening in 1969, during a full moon, that Dr White and his wife left home at St Helen's to attend a dinner party with friends. The weather was cold and visibility was good and as they neared the top of Ashey Down Mrs White spotted lights which suddenly appeared in the middle of a lonely part of the downs, realising that the nearest building, a farmhouse was some miles away her husband told her that it was probably a farmer looking for his sheep.
But all around them were the lights and halfway down a long hill they came upon more lights in the fields to their right. They were so intrigued that they stopped the car and sat looking at thousands of the lights. There was a lane they remembered that led off to the right and this now looked like a proper road that seemed to have street lights and seemed to lead to a built up area that was lit up with lights of every colour imaginable. The sky was darkening as clouds drifted across the moon.
Being somewhat puzzled the doctor decided to examine the phenomenon more closely and started the car and drove slowly down the hill into the "road" that he knew did not exist. As they stopped and climbed out the lights vanished almost as suddenly as they had appeared and they were once again standing on a dirt track. There was no sign in the surrounding fields of any of the lights.
They decided to return to the car and make there way on to the friends at the Hare and Hounds which was on the crossroads on the road to Newport.
But no sooner had they started moving again then the lights reappeared, the doctor and his wife could see the pub in the distance, but they noticed that it did not look the same as when they last saw it, it seemed to be bathed in a strange light, and there were lots of people scurrying around with torches.
The doctor slowed down to enquire what was going on when a tall man wearing what looked like a long jerkin with a leather belt ran straight at him, and ran straight through the front of the car as if it did not exist!! Driving slowly towards the pub he started to turn into the car park when suddenly it completely vanished.
By this time the doctor and his wife were really scared and shaking they got out of the car and made their way into the Hare and Hounds. Everything inside seemed normal and the only illuminations were what were normally there and from the window they could see that everything outside was normal as well.
After pausing for a short time to recover from their fright they continued on their journey to Niton where they met their friends and related the story to them.
But no satisfactory reason for the illuminations could be found, some said it could be the lights of Portsmouth reflecting on the water. But nothing could explain the figure that seemed to run right through the car. Whether they had witnessed something that had happened many years ago or whether they had imagined the whole thing has yet to be proved.
Not far from the village of Newbridge on the southern coast of the island can be found Dodpits Cross, which is just a junction that has a signpost that always seems to be leaning to one side.
It was in October 1928 that a young girl was walking home from Shalfleet where she had stayed late at school. She was a country girl and was not unused to walking the surrounding lanes in the dark, but this particular night she would soon change her mind.
It was at the crossroads that she noticed the signpost looked different than usual and being slightly afraid she decided to have a closer look but her fear soon turned to horror when she saw that what was normally a signpost was now a gibbet with the body of a man hanging form it. She could see that his head was held tight in the noose and the rope was parting a head of shoulder length curly hair. He had a beard and was dressed in what looked like a dark coloured cloak/
His eyes were sightless but seemed to stare at her and she turned to flee the scene, but some unseen force seemed to stop her and unseen hand turned her around to once more face the horrendous scene. But the gibbet and its body had completely vanished and the signpost stood there as it had always done so.
Over many years the girl was questioned about the scene and her story has not once been altered, and it seems that this horrendous sight has been etched on her mind for evermore.
Dodpits got its name from The Pits of Death and it is said that a highwayman was once hanged on this very spot. Maybe this is why the bridle path that leads from this spot has always been known as Dark Lane.
DUNNOSE HEAD A ghost ship is often seen sailing off the point and is believed to be HMS Eurydice which sank in heavy seas on 24 March 1878 with a loss of over 300 lives
KNIGHTON GORGES has a haunting, though only a trace, but stories are told of strange music and the sound of carriage wheels heard in this desolate place, especially on New Years Eve. The house was once called Knighton Manor and the 'Gorges' being added when Ralph de Gorges married the daughter of the Manor. The house itself was one of the noblest in the land and was demolished in 1820, leaving only the gateposts to show that it once existed. These gateposts highly decorated with a heraldic crest so impressed a young passer-by on a walking tour of the island that he decided to ask for a night's shelter. It was late and very dark On New Year's Eve sometime in the 1920's and as he approached the house the young man heard a carriage and horses thundering down the drive toward him, and he flung himself to one side to just in time to miss the wheels. He picked himself up and dusted himself down he was so shaken and angry, but being late he continued towards the house, which shortly came into view. He could hear the sound of music and laughter coming from it and knocked loudly upon the door. There was no answer so he knocked again, but as the music was so loud he guessed nobody could hear him. On looking through a window he could see what was evidently a fancy dress party in full swing, for everyone was dressed as in the Georgian period.
He decided not to bother and turned and made his way back down the drive to the village of Newchurch. A little further on he came to another house and decided to ask for lodgings. On acceptance and while over a meal he related to the family his experiences at the house, about the party and the horse and carriage. and that nobody could hear him because of the noise made by the party goers. He was then informed that the house had been demolished over 100 years ago and that there was nothing there except the gate posts and an old barn and an overgrown orchard. He refused to believe this and persuaded one of the men to go with him to have a look the next day. He triumphantly led the way to the gates of the great house, but, to his dismay and astonishment the gateposts were derelict and without gates, the drive was a tangle of weeds and there was no trace of the house.
BILLINGHAM MANOR is the setting behind a legend of duelling lovers. Though this one carries a mortal sting in its tail. Billingham was reputed as the most haunted house on the island when Sir Shane Leslie rented it in 1928, but strange as it may seem none of the apparitions was thought to be malevolent. According to tradition the fair lady of the Billingham was wooed and won by a gentleman of culture and refinement. Some time later appeared another suitor, rich, young and handsome, who successfully pursued the lady. A duel was arranged between the two lovers as neither would surrender to the other. And the consquence was that the younger man won, killing the older man with a thrust of his sword. But the lady and her new lover did not enjoy much happiness for he was shortly afterwards drowned while crossing to France. The beautiful widow grew wizened and ugly and no other suitors came for her hand in marriage. She lived the rest of her life in remorse and even after death could find no peace.
A story relates how Louis de Rochefort a Frenchman, came to Brading and had just finished a meal and was retiring to an upstairs room overlooking Quay Lane. He climbed into bed and was soon asleep but a little while later an intruder stabbed the sleeping man again and again, and the sound of the dying Frenchmans screams could be heard throughout the inn.
Nobody knows for sure who did this dastardly deed, it may have been an assassin hired by Cromwell as it is thought that De Rochefort may have been an emissary of the King of France who was delivering a message to Charles I, who was at this time imprisoned in Carisbrooke Castle.
The murder is dramatically portrayed in the Wax Museum, but in reality the Frenchman cursed the murderer while he lay dying, and swore to haunt the house until his remains were taken back to France for burial.
And ever since then the ghost of Louis de Rochfort has haunted the old inn and subsequent buildings that have been built there.
The house was owned by the Carley family for over a century and they have recorded many sightings of this figure in one of the bedrooms, a room that overlooks Quay Lane.
It is said that his screams and the sound of a coach rattling along the lane outside can be heard. People have been known to have hurriedly left the place and animals seem to be afraid of approaching the first floor. People have volunteered to stay the night here but have fled before daylight and the editor of a local paper stayed one night with his dog for company, and they also beat a hasty retreat just after midnight when they are said to have heard noises and felt a cold atmosphere, even the dog became hard to control
Around the mid 1960s workmen were putting in a new water main and discovered a human skeleton. The local police decided that the remains were so old that no action was necessary but the coroner was contacted. It was then decided that the skeleton was that of de Rochefort and that they should be returned to France for a Christian burial. But though many of the de Rochefort family came forward none of them laid claim to the remains and so the bones were brought back to Brading with an amount of French soil to bury them in.
In 1991 and Australian came to the museum stating that he was Louis de Rochefort and he had been searching for this ancestor for years and had heard of the remains interred at Brading, and promised someday to return with his family.
It is not known for sure how Nettlestone got its name but a piece of land in the area was granted to the Cluniac monks from Burgundy just after the Normans invaded Britain.
At Nodes Point a small promontory, there was a small farmhouse which was converted into a mansion and it is said that a secret passage leads from here to the priory at St Helens.
The monks who built the priory enjoyed the life here and the land around St Helen's was farmed by them for many years, until Henry V banished foreign religious orders and returned the lands to the English. The priory is long gone and all that can be found here now i the house which has kept the name of The Priory.
The revenues were granted to Eton College by Henry Vi and during the reign of Edward IV and on his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville the College bursars were granted the actual land, and it remained in their hands until 1799 when Sir Grose Nash, the founder of the Grose-Smith family bought the property.
An American lady purchased it in 1927 and she was so taken by England that she adopted St George and the Dragon as her personal symbol and even changed her name to St George. This saw the start of a lot of improvements, she imported a porch from France which is believed to have come from the 14th century and a figure of St George and the Dragon was sculptured form different tone and added to it.
There was a portrait which was known as The Blue Lady hanging in the dining room during the Grose-Smith's ownership and it depicted a young girl of about 13 or 14 smiling with a canary sitting on the first finger and thumb of her right hand and a King Charles spaniel at her feet. The artist as well as the origin of the painting is not known, but it is said that the young lady in the blue dress died a short while after the portrait was painted, but how and why has yet to be discovered.
Since her death a lot of sightings of her ghost has been reported, not only in the priory but in the surrounding grounds and nearby fields, it is said that she is either playing or calling her dog.
In 1927 a distant relation to the Grose-Smiths arrived in the village with her mother and grandmother and went to Mrs St George and was the first to hear of the many sightings from the new owner. Mrs St George said that she had trouble retaining domestic staff and even her faithful butler had resigned and it was only then that she had discovered the reason for the departures. He said that the staff were terrified to stay as they had heard heart rending cries of a child and the voice of a child calling for a dog. It seems that on hearing this the servants would look around searching for the owner of the voice to see if they could help, but there was nothing to be found. Even the butler himself had been witness to the sound of soft footsteps, as made by a small child running past him.
The local people supported the butlers story and said that the house was haunted by a young girl but their was nothing mentioned about a dog. While discussing this ith the gardener who had lived there nearly all of his life, Mrs George discovered that there was a stuffed dog which as far as the gardener could remember had been placed in a glass case over the stairs, but he had not seen it for some considerable time, having been sold along with the rest of the old houses contents.
Mrs George placed an advertisement in the local newspaper and was delighted to receive a response from somebody who had bought the dog and for the sum of one pound she was able to buy it back, where she placed it in its original place above the stairs. Whereby it seems that the sound of the small child calling for her dog ceased.
Later anothe of the modern owners tells of someone who had not heard of the story removed the dog and placed it in one of the cellars, and almost immediately the strange noises and the voice calling for the dog returned during the night. The very next day the dog was returned and again the sounds stopped.
But the Blue Lady of Nettlestone is still seen from time to time, but now she is not running and crying, but playing happily in her surroundings.
The portrait of the little girl as inherited by a retired naval officer and taken to his house in Sussex but it may one day be returned to its rightful place and maybe the Blue Lady will walk no more
MORE INFORMATION ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT GHOSTS CAN BE OBTAINED FROM "GHOST ISLAND" A SERIES OF BOOKS WRITTEN BY GAY BALDWIN
Beware the haunting have not