Supernatural

Somewhere or something associated with unexplained events, including haunted houses.

Baddesley Clinton – medieval manor, murder, mayhem and mellowness

Baddesley Clinton, moated manor house, Warwickshire, National Trust

The house at Baddesley Clinton is a neat example of medieval-Victorian style.  Fortunately, successive owners were never what you might call filthy rich.  Had they been, doubtless another Jacobean or Georgian pile would have been constructed (really, don’t we have quite enough of those already?) and a delightful moated manor house would have been lost, […]

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Wandering around Rufford Old Hall

Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire, National Trust

I found Rufford Old Hall rather like nouvelle cuisine; it looked interesting, but a little over-hyped.  It was good, but there should have been so much more to it and at the end I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied.  I imagine the estate agent’s blurb something along the lines of: “Well-presented one-bedroom detached house in

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Whitby Abbey and the Easter problem

Whitby Abbey, the ruins of the abbey church

The Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby is celebrated for its fish and chips, the semi-precious gemstone, jet, its associations with the explorer Captain Cook, Dracula – and its abbey.  It is less well-known as the place where the timing of Easter was decided. “When is Easter this year?” I hear you say; I’m very glad

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Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon, haunted

Is Berry Pomeroy one of the most haunted castles in Britain? It seems that either the white or the blue woman-spirit will get you.  The White Lady is reputed to be the ghost of the beautiful Lady Margaret Pomeroy, imprisoned by her jealous (and less attractive) sister Eleanor for the crime of being in love

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Little Moreton Hall

Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, visit

Little Moreton Hall is an extravagant puzzle of Tudor timber framing near Congleton in Cheshire.  Like a child’s drawing, it sits higgledy-piggledy, the horizontals and verticals not quite making the grade.  It really could be the crooked house that belonged to the crooked man in the nursery rhyme.  That black and white colour scheme that

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Fountains in Yorkshire

There was trouble at St Mary’s Abbey in York.  Some of the monks felt that monastic practices had strayed too far from the original values set out by the blessed St Benedict.  In 1132, influenced by a band of Cistercians passing through the city, thirteen of St Mary’s monks rebelled.  However, Archbishop Thurston sympathised with

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On Hallowe’en

Origins of Halloween

The local supermarket is pretending to be the props department for “Night of the Living Dead”.  There are plastic skulls, axes, hairy hands, spiders, broomsticks, masks more gruesome than many of the weekend shoppers in the Trafford Centre – and even life-size ravens with glowing red eyes.  Also, a plastic fish skeleton – the relevance

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Shugborough

Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire (rear view)

A complete working historic estate of 900 acres in rural Staffordshire, Shugborough has everything an aristocratic country pile should have – imposing Georgian mansion, parkland, formal gardens, a walled garden, farm (including labourers’ houses, watermill, workshops and rare breeds), river walks, monuments, servants’ quarters, stables, a brewery…enough to please most day trippers, and even keep

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Oliver Cromwell’s House

Oliver Cromwell's House in Ely

Oliver Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in British history, reviled by some, admired by others.  For a short time, he was the most powerful man in the land.  He ruled Britain as Lord Protector for almost five years from 1653–1658, during the interregnum (1649-1660) when the English Parliament had disposed of its

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Tarr Steps

Tarr Steps, ancient clapper bridge in Somerset

The Devil was a busy little bee in days gone by.  Some might say he still is, but in any event he crops up all over the British landscape – including at the Tarr Steps, a famous clapper bridge over the river Barle, Somerset, in the Exmoor National Park.  Clapper bridges, river crossings of dry-stone

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A visit to Scotney Castle

There’s a ruined castle in the valley bottom, beyond the grand, Victorian, house.  A round, machiolated, tower peeks through multi-coloured shrubs and trees.  It draws the eye through the garden, overwhelming the desire to linger amongst the flowers.  Closer in, down the hill, and the heady scent from rhododendrons and azaleas is almost overpowering.  The

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St Hubert’s, Idsworth

St Hubert's, Idsworth, Bit About Britain

We came upon St Hubert’s, my good friend and I, very late one night and many years’ ago.  We were young, and had been indulging that well-known youthful pastime, ‘Visiting Old Places After Dark To See If You Get Scared’.  As we walked up the hill through the still Hampshire night toward the church, it

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Portchester Castle

Portchester's Roman walls

People are walking their dogs around the ancient walls of Portchester Castle.  A cricket match is taking place on the green.  Some scruffy kids run up and down the ditch outside, whooping.  Anglers drape their lines optimistically into Portsmouth Harbour and gaze at passing ships with the old Royal Navy dockyard beyond.  It’s a peaceful

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Visit the Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London has been sitting on the north bank of the Thames, watching the tides of a great city ebb and flow, for around a thousand years.  The city has grown up around it and it is part of it; it is impossible to imagine London without the Tower.  Think of all that

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