Shute Barton Manor might be well known as one of England’s most important manor houses, however, it is also thought to be haunted by a spirit who may be less than impressed at your visit. CHRISTINE MILLER tells us more.
Located close to Axminster, the medieval Shute Barton Manor is certainly an imposing sight to behold, which is accessed via an equally arresting gatehouse. The manor house holds great historic importance and in the 1950s it was given Grade I listed status.
The oldest part of the house is dated as 1380 when it was built by the Bonneville family as a traditional hall house, and by the 1600s it had been vastly expanded. In 1785 it was partly demolished; happily though, the original parts have survived to this day. However, the overall style of the house has been drastically changed throughout the centuries.
The manor is now owned by the National Trust who acquired it from the Carew Poe family in 1959 and whose descendants still lived in the manor house up until 2010. The Trust now let it out to paying guests to enjoy the luxury of the five-bedroom manor house and its stunning lawns.
Well, it would be rather surprising if such an historic home didn’t have a resident ghost, or perhaps two, wouldn’t it?
One such spectre appears to be a ghostly cat who stalks the grounds of the manor house. What at first looks like a regular (very much living) domestic shorthair, it disappears through solid walls much to the surprise of unnerved onlookers.
However, this phantom feline isn’t the only spooky resident at Shute Barton…
A Grumpy Grey Lady at Shute Barton Manor
The manor was owned by the Grey family over the 15th and 16th centuries, and they became infamous when they unsuccessfully attempted to place Lady Jane Grey on the English throne. On 12th February 1554, the 16-year-old was beheaded for the crime of high treason, and the Grey family were quickly forced to sell their home due to the rapid loss of their reputation.
Guests and staff alike have reported seeing the ghost of the Grey Lady – however, it is unclear whether this spirit is indeed the Lady Jane Grey. After all, she is said to haunt an impressive number of places, including the Tower of London and Dalston Hall, amongst others.
While some believe that the nine-day Queen could indeed be the spirit, there are others who believe the ghost to be that of Lady de la Pole, a Royalist, who during the Civil War met a terribly grisly death after being captured and subsequently slowly hanged by Parliamentarians in a grove close to the manor house.
The lane has since been named Lady Walk to commemorate the unfortunate woman.
Whoever this spectral grey lady may be, one thing is quite certain; she isn’t particularly fond of having the living approach her. A variety of witnesses that have seen her have said that upon attempting to near her, she adopts a rather uninviting expression and then she simply disappears. She has been described as having a determined gait and appears to be rather comfortable in her surroundings, so much so that it has been reported that she appears to feel herself as superior; like she “owns the place”.
Which, of course, she very well may have.
Have you visited Barton Shute Manor? Perhaps you met with the aloof ghost of the Grey Lady? Let us know in the comments section below.