Are Bovey Manor’s Ghosts Just Smugglers Tales?

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Bovey Manor in Devon has many ghosts stories, but are they are true? Rick Hale continues his series about Peter Underwood’s greatest paranormal investigations

Bovey Manor House

Not every trip to a haunted location involves an in-depth investigation.  Sometimes it’s just enough for a ghost hunter to walk through it’s doors and maybe even spend the night in one of its haunted rooms.

Peter Underwood, the late, great ghost hunter and former President of the Ghost Club, knew this all too well, especially when it came to his brief stay in haunted Bovey Manor.

Currently, Bovey Manor, a Grade II listed building is a hotel and can be found between two valleys in Seaton, East Devon.

Mentioned only briefly in the Domesday Book of 1086, Bovey Manor was the ancestral home of the Walrond family for hundreds of years.

During the reign of Henry VIII, the Walronds lost possession of the house in 1542, when the monarch gifted the house to Catherine Parr as part of her dowry. Thankfully, when Parr died from complications after childbirth, the Walrond clan regained possession of their house where they lived for centuries more.

When the Walrond line died out, smugglers took over the house and used it as a headquarters to engage in their illicit activity.

Tale of Bovey Manor’s Headless Woman

One of the manor’s most famous ghost stories is a horrific apparition of a headless woman said to stalk the grounds and corridors of Bovey Manor.

That ghost story is typically rejected by ghost hunters as they believe it was made up by the smugglers to keep people away from discovering their illegal trade 

Nevertheless, there does appear to be legitimate spectral activity at this ancient manor home. This spectral activity captured the attention of Britain’s greatest investigator of hauntings, Peter Underwood.

Upon arrival at Bovey Manor with his wife and Steuart and Freda Kiernander of the Ghost Club, Peter and his wife took up residence in the haunted Blue Room.

As for the Kiernanders, they occupied the equally haunted King Charles Room.

When they entered the room Peter and his wife quickly felt an uneasiness in the room and a thick, almost charged atmosphere.

And both could make out the unmistakable scent of lavender that hung heavily in the air. 

Lavender in Blue Room precedes ghost

According to long held stories of the Blue Room, the scent of lavender typically precedes the manifestation of a woman that has been seen in the room.

So far, the ghostly tales of Bovey Manor were living up to their end of the bargain.

As for Steuart and Freda Kiernander, their experience in the King Charles Room was far more dramatic and frightening.

Freda, came face to face with the phantom cavalier said to inhabit the King Charles Room.

While unpacking, the ghost suddenly appeared, gave Freda a stern look, and vanished before her eyes.

Undoubtedly an unnerving experience even for a seasoned ghost hunter. But are these the only ghosts that haunt Bovey Manor? Not hardly.

On the roads surrounding Bovey, a phantom coach pulled by a team of black horses has been seen travelling at breakneck speeds. As if the devil himself was chasing it.

The sudden appearance of the coach has almost caused a number of accidents that could very well have resulted in serious injury.

The ghostly coach has been seen pulling up to the doors of Bovey Manor at all hours of the day.

Those lucky enough to see the coach have watched as the door opens and a handsome couple dressed in Georgian era clothing exits the coach.

They walk up to the door and abruptly vanish. The coach then rockets away and disappears into eternity.

Peter Underwood may not have actively investigated during his short stay at Bovey Manor.

But he and his colleagues came away with some rather impressive ghost stories.

My thoughts on Bovey Manor

I suppose it’s safe to say that the apparition of a headless woman was a complete fabrication. Dreamed up by men plying their illegal trade.

As for the cavalier and the phantom coach, these may just be energy imprinted on the land. Playing back when the time is right or the right people are there to witness them.

Rick Hale, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first became interested in the paranormal after having a positive interaction with an apparition at a young age. Rick is the author of The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghosts and Demons. Behold! Shocking True Tales of Terror...and Some Other Spooky Stuff. And Bullets, Booze and Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois. Rick is the co-host of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal Talk. Rick was featured in the documentary Ghost Tapes 2. Rick is a featured writer for Spooky Isles and Paranormalstudy.com. Rick has also been published by Haunted Times, Paranormal Underground, The Supernatural Magazine and Legends Magazine.

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