RICK HALE considers Sanford Orcas Manor in Dorset, a candidate for Britain’s most haunted building you’ve probably never heard of…
In this day of a seemingly endless supply of paranormal media, calling any one location “most haunted” is no easy task.
Especially in the ancient lands of the United Kingdom. With such notoriously haunted buildings like the Ancient Ram Inn, the Tower Of London and the now non-existent Borley Rectory, it almost seems like an injustice to ascribe this distinction to just one building.
However, if you judge a reportedly haunted location by its spectral population then Dorset’s Sanford Orcas Manor may just win this distinction hands down.
Built in the 1530s, Sanford Orcas Manor has had only two owners in its long history, the Knoyles and Meddlycots. Regardless of the living occupants, the non-living residents appear to outnumber the living by a wide margin. This alone could earn this ancient Manor the coveted title of most haunted house in England.
History of haunting of Sanford Orcas Manor
From 1965-1979, Colonel Claridge, a retired career military man leased the house. Claridge had so many encounters with the ghosts of the house he actually considered them just another feature of the house. One night, as he was locking up, he caught his first glimpse of one the phantom occupants. He watched as an elderly woman in soiled clothes walk through the gates of the front lawn. When he approached the woman, he watched in astonishment as she appeared to just melt into thin air leaving a chilly breeze on a warm summer night.
The dirty old woman wasn’t the only spirit Claridge encountered during his early days at the Manor. An 18th century farmer that killed himself by hanging has been witnessed by the Colonel, as well as others. His identity, and reason for his desperate act, has been lost to history. Perhaps this mystery is behind why he makes his presence known often, even terrifying those unfortunate enough to see him.
In the 1960s, the member of a BBC production crew became sick with fright when came face to face with the farmer. While standing in a second floor hall, the woman watched as the farmer suddenly appeared in a floppy hat and dirty smock. Terrified by what she witnessed, she reported the sighting to the Colonel and he confirmed this was the suicidal farmer. Following the encounter, the BBC employee fled the house refusing to return.
Although these spirits may seem somewhat benign, the other spirits are known to have a more aggressive reputation. Colonel Claridge’s daughter had a frightening experience with one of these disturbing spirits when she came for a visit. Perhaps out of a sense of curiosity, she decided to sleep in a room where she had heard a strange tapping noise. A decision she would soon regret.
Shortly after falling asleep, she was tanked out of her slumber by the sensation of rough, cold hands grabbing her around the neck. After several minutes of fighting her invisible assailant, she was able to break free and ran out of the house. She later learned that a footman inhabited the room and had a reputation for sexually assaulting female staff. The footman would choke his victims into submission and then rape them. Women no longer sleep in the room for fear of dealing with this degenerate spirit.
Little girl in black, wicked priests haunt Sanford Orcas Manor
Other spirits believed to haunted the Manor are numerous and run the gamut between benovelonce and malevolence. A little girl in a black dress has been seen running up and down the halls. A lady in a red Victorian ers dress has been encountered in practically every room in the house. A wicked priest has awakened many guests as he stands over their beds glaring down at them. And a sinister looking man has been seen stalking around the servant’s quarters. According to witnesses he smells of decaying flesh and is anything but friendly. If the phantom population isn’t enough to send chills down your spine, the consider the Manors most unnerving ghost, the madman of the Manor.
According to legend, a troubled young man who grew up in the house was forced to join the royal navy. His parents believed that this would straighten him out. They couldn’t have been more mistaken. While at the Britannia Royal Naval College, more commonly known as Dartmouth college, the young man attached a fellow cadet fatally stabbing him numerous times. After standing trial, the court found him to be hopelessly insane and was sent back to Sanford Orcas Manor.
When he returned home, the young man died under mysterious circumstances and was interred in a secret passage behind the Great Chamber. It is said that on certain nights the screams of this dangerously insane man can be heard begging to be set free. His pleas are accompanied by the sound of his giant, bloodied fists hammering on the walls.
Throughout the later years of the 20th century, Sanford Orcas Manor has been carefully investigated by numerous paranormal researchers. They have determined that the ghosts of this ancient house are more than just stories. And any sceptic would be hard pressed to disagree.