Chambercombe Manor’s dark and grisly secrets

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Chambercombe Manor in Devon has a history that has left many ghostly imprints, says CHRISTINE MILLER

Chambercombe Manor

Chambercombe Manor located near Ilfracombe, Devon, dates the whole way back to the 11th century, having featured in the Doomsday book and incredibly, many of the original features of the house still remain while the rest has been wonderfully restored thanks to the dedication of the trust that owns it. 

The house boasts an eerie secret chamber that was uncovered in 1865. The then tenant of Chambercombe Manor was doing some renovation work and he discovered the outline of a window, but could find no room to match it up with. Baffled yet intrigued and tenacious in his want to uncover the riddle, the man came to the conclusion that there must be a secret room next door to what is now known as Lady Jane’s room.

With the help of his wife, the man dismantled the wall and poked a candle through the hole. The couple were immediately hit with a strong musty smell from the decaying room, and as the candle flickered alighting the room. As their eyes began to adjust they gazed in wonder at the sight that lay before them…

In the middle of the rather grand room was a large four poster bed surrounded by a red curtain. Into the room they clambered, yet their boisterous mood was somewhat subdued as they pulled back the old, thick red curtain and made a grim discovery – a skeleton lay in the bed. 

It was sometime later when it was discovered that the skeleton was that of a female – but how did she get there? What was her fate? And why was the room bricked up? 

Whose skeleton was found at Chambercombe Manor?

The story is brutal and tragic in equal measure. 

The skeleton is said to be that of Kate who’s father William Oatway in the 1700s was a tenant of Chambercombe. Kate had married an Irishman and lived in Dublin so she very rarely, if ever, saw her parents, although she often kept in touch. 

Looking out of the window one evening on a particularly stormy evening, William noticed a woman lying motionless in the rocks nearby, and calling for his wife brought her in and lay her on the bed to try and nurse her back to health. Sadly she succumbed to her injuries. Searching her for some clue as to her identity, Oatway happened to notice that the battered and bruised young woman had a sizable amount of coins on her person, more than enough to enable him to purchase Chambercombe as had always been his wish. 

He took the money. 

The fateful twist in the story is that the young woman who he robbed in death was Kate, his beloved daughter. Utterly grief stricken, Oakway boarded up the room and alongside his wife, fled the manor, never to return. 

It is of little wonder then that Chambercombe Manor is said to be haunted. A variety of phenomena has been reported – perfumes have been smelt emitting from seemingly nowhere, while elsewhere doors slowly creak open, pause and then close again where there no breezes. Even more unnerving is the claim that invisible hands have been known to gently touch visitors. 

Chambercombe Manor

Each area of the manor seems to have its own ghost:

In the Great Hall there is the spirit of an angry man with deep, piercing eyes (believed to be a Quaker) who paces up and down the room in deep, agitated thought. 

In the Balcony Room, complete with its very own staircase, visitors have reported something invisible blocking their journey up and down the stairs.

Within the Chippendale Room is the ghost of a young girl known as Ellie who died here from tuberculosis some many years ago. Ellie enjoys making her presence known and often tugs playfully on visitor’s clothes. She has been seen numerous times and is described as having her hair in ringlets and wears an old fashioned pale blue dress complete with ruffled sleeves. 

Meanwhile, a beautiful 17th century oak cradle sits in the Tudor room and has been known to rock by itself, or by unseen hands. 

Chambercombe Manor

Some members of the public have become disorientedly dizzy in The Chippendale Room, and it has been theorised that as the beams of the room were taken from a ship, and items have been reported to hold memories, this might explain the swaying sensation that makes visitors so uneasy on their feet. 

There have been many, many visitors reporting paranormal activity at Chambercombe Manor: have you a spooky story to tell? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Have you spent a haunted night at Chambercombe Manor Devon? Tell us in the comments section!

Watch Richard Felix investigate Chambercombe Manor ghosts

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