RICK HALE delves into the historical mysteries and hauntings of Athelhampton House in Dorset
Puddletown, Dorchester DT2, 7LG
Dorset, on the south west coast of England is a county known for its stunning beauty, human settlements dating as far back as the Neolithic era.
And a treasure trove of dinosaur fossils earning the Dorset coast the nickname, Jurassic Coast.
Located further inland is Athelhampton House, a Grade I listed, 15th century house that has a long history of being haunted by many ghosts.
History of Athelhampton House
The grand country manor house we see today was constructed in 1485, by Sir William Martyn.
The house remained in possession of the Martyn family until 1891, when it was sold to Alfred Cart de LaFontaine.
When LaFontaine bought the house and it’s gardens, it was already starting to fall into disrepair.
Almost immediately the new owner went about the daunting task of restoring the house, and gardens, to its former glory.
In 1957, the house passed into the hands of the Cooke family and remains in their possession to this day.
The Haunting of Athelhampton House
Over the years, Athelhampton House, has gained the reputation for being England’s second most haunted house.
A reputation that is well deserved with daily encounters with the supernatural entities believed to roam the house.
In 2002, the popular paranormal reality TV show, Most Haunted, chose Athelhampton House for its first televised investigation. And the house did not disappoint.
The Phantom Duelists
One afternoon, a guest of the family was laying on a couch trying to relax by reading a book in the Great Chamber.
Suddenly, she was torn from her book when two men suddenly appeared in the middle of the room locked in mortal combat.
Not feeling an ounce of fear over the ghostly combatants, she curiously watched as their swords clashed.
The fight came to an end when one of the men stabbed the other and they vanished.
No one knows who the two men were, however it’s believed that by the clothing the guest described, they may have been civil war soldiers forever reliving the duel they fought so long ago.
The wine cellar that sits adjacent to the Great Chamber, is believed to be home to a wall tapping ghost the residents call, “Cooper.”
Those who have heard the tapping on the wall have remarked that whomever this spirit is, he appears to be trying to communicate with his taps.
The Grey Lady
Robert Cooke, the owner of the house, has himself reported witnessing the apparition of a woman in a grey dress.
On more than one occasion, Mr Cooke, has watched as the grey lady suddenly appears and walks through the walls of the bedrooms.
When asked, Mr Cooke, claims to have no fear of the grey lady and regards her as just another member of the household.
A Dark Apparition
The unnerving phantom of a man in a black hooded robe has been witnessed lurking about the house.
Staff and visitors have watched as this strange ghost hurries down the halls and vanishes as it turns a corner.
The apparition is believed to be a Catholic priest who ministered to the Martyn family while they lived in the house.
An Unhuman Entity
The ghosts said to call Athelhampton House home are not all of the human variety. Something not human stalks the halls and corridors of the house.
Centuries ago, one of the children of the Martyn clan kept a chimpanzee as a pet.
According to legend, the prized pet was accidentally entombed alive in the walls of the Great Chamber.
Since then, the apparition of a chimpanzee has been seen sitting silently in the Great Chamber watching whoever enters. He has also been witnessed running throughout the house.
The animal is further believed to tap on the wall where he was entombed so long ago.
Dorset’s, Athelhampton House is more than just a place to have a personal experience with the unexplained.
The house is open daily for tours where you can explore this its many rooms while admiring it’s collection of antiques and fine art.
You can also walk among the Tudor house’s well manicured gardens. History comes alive at Athelhampton House in more ways than one.