BRITISH GHOSTS: Abbey House, Barnwell, Cambridge
Posted January 8, 2013on:
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Abbey House was built around 1580 from the remnants of Barnwell Priory, itself established in 1112. In its time the house has played host to some intriguing hauntings, which may even have mysteriously contributed to the sudden departure of two former tenants from the house at 2 o’clock one morning. No reason for their flight was ever given. During the 1920s the wife of the owner, Mrs Ascham, saw a woman’s disembodied head at the foot of her bed on three separate occasions, once in the middle of an afternoon. News of the haunting reached the ears of Professor F J M Stratton, President of the Society for Psychical Research (1953-1954) who rented the house for a month. The professor reported hearing muttering and singing from an empty room.
1968 was a vintage year for the haunting of Abbey House. The daughter of the house repeatedly heard strange noises night after night, and her dog would rush barking to one corner of a panelled room. A phantom Grey Lady (almost an essential requisite of a haunted house, and usually signifying a woman who has known much sadness) was seen hanging around the iron gates set in a wall and on the path at the back of the house. This ghost was seen twice in 1969, and is believed to have been one of the nuns of St Radegund, who was said to have had a lover at the Priory. The story goes that she was walled up alive when her indiscretions were made public. A similar legend is attached to Borley in Essex, and yet there is no evidence nuns were ever punished in this way in England. Anyway, there is some confusion as to whether she and the White Lady – who haunted the bedrooms – were one and the same, or two entirely different phantoms.
There are spectral animals at the house as well. A red squirrel runs along a wall and disappears when anyone approaches, and a phantom hare is said to appear in the garden, usually when there is snow upon the ground. Other psychic phenomena includes sheets beeing pulled off sleeping guests, groans, raps, rustling, and the sound of furniture being moved about.
During the latter half of the 20th century three clergymen performed exorcisms at the house, which seems to have vanquished the supernatural forces for the time being. In spite of that, this house does “enjoy” considerable prestige as one of the most haunted houses in the world. Nowadays it is owned and occupied by the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. I have been unabvle to find any more recent reports of hauntings/ghost sightings from here.