Trerice Manor, ghostly tales of evil lords and headless horsemen

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Trerice Manor in Cornwall is the classic haunted house, full of tales of the supernatural, says MATTHEW E. BANKS

On the outskirts of Newquay, nestled peacefully at the end of a winding lane lays one of the most beautiful and hardly touched by time Manor houses in the world.

History of Trerice Manor

Trerice Manor was built in 1572 by Sir John Arundell, on the site of a fourteenth century house, parts of which still exist, such as a stone tower with a spiral staircase that may possibly date from the reign of Richard III.

According to Carew the original name was Treres; Tre signifying a tree and Res a rushing or fleeting away, alluding to its fine trees on the side of a hill.

The house is secluded in a sheltered valley and according to The Times of 1926 boasts an ambulatory, a ‘priest’s hiding’ approached by a secret passage and a dungeon.

The Arundells were a well-known Cornish family who were Royalists and one ‘John for the King.’ held Pendennis Castle for five months against Fairfax’s troops and lived at Trerice until 1773, passing onto their kindsmen, the Aclands in 1802 who held estates in Devon and Cornwall.

By 1838 the house was in disrepair as William Penaluna wrote: “The Southern wing however, and the whole of the building which once formed a quadrangle on the northern side, are either in a state of rapid decay, or entirely demolished…”

The manor has a reputation for being haunted.

The Wicked Lord of Trerice Manor

One of the last lords of the Trerice Manor, a Lord Arundell was commonly known to locals as ‘the wicked lord,’ due to his excessive drinking, gambling, womanising and wayward friends and life style.

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It is said that he seduced a young serving girl, who when she found out that she was with child, took her own life (or died in child-birth depending on which version you get to hear).

Sightings of her are accompanied by a drop in temperature and a smell of lilac.

Trerice Manor House

The smell of lilac is especially strong in the library, where there is a general feeling of unease, as though stepping back in time or a feeling of someone nearby.

Speculation is that this may have been where the poor maid killed herself.

The original North Wing where this ‘wicked’ lord had his chambers lay derelict for over a century as no one would live in it.

It was badly damaged in a storm and so it was decided in 1860 to dismantle what was left and the Lord’s possessions were hurriedly taken out and burnt.

An early 20th century guide book states, ‘…which the country people still declare to be haunted by the spirit of the certain passionate Lord of Arundell, known in the neighbouring village as the ‘wicked lord’’.

This is unverified at time of writing as there appears to be no other account of this. Similarly, on the road outside the Manor House a ghostly carriage is said to thunder down it and across the ford at some late hour, driving up to the main entrance before coming to a stop.

Haunted by a headless horse rider

Local people say that the real ghost of Trerice is a headless horse rider.

At midnight he rides across the courtyard with his head under his arm and has allegedly been seen in the moonlight on a number of occasions.

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In an interesting side line, on August 2nd 1822 the Lord of the Manor called at the Vicarage and informed the vicar “that a strange thing had just happened; that he had caught a black hare the day before; that he had put the hare (for the time) into a poultry-coop; but that in the morning no hare was to be found.”

The vicar states that ‘…he told with a look and a tone of wonder, intimating that the said black hare must have been some supernatural animal, perhaps an emissary from his infernal highness.”

Accordingly, the coop was strong and well-built and that there was no way that the animal could have escaped!

National Trust buys haunted Trerice Manor

In 1953 the National Trust acquired Trerice Manor and during the 1954 renovations reconstructed the North Wing, which was finally opened to the general public in 1980.

A figure of a lady in grey walks the gallery in the North Wing and down stone steps.

Some have also speculated that she may also be the spirit of the doomed maid as a smell of lilac accompanies her too.

Trerice Manor House

There are also strange noises such as a swishing of skirts along the floor, bangs and other unexplained noises as well as doors opening by themselves.

Another haunted part of Trerice Manor is the court yard and stables where in the early part of the 19th century a stable boy was trampled to death when the horses he was leading to harness became spooked and his ghost is said to roam the stables, which is now home to the souvenir shop and restaurant.

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Other than the renovations to the North Wing in the 1950s, the house is largely untouched by time and because of that Trerice Manor carries a strange sense of history.

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