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Hinton Ampner House
Hinton Ampner House is a National Trust property and dates from 1790. The original house was about 160 feet to the North of this building and demolished in 1793 and it is this older Tudor residence that acquired a reputation of being haunted during the 18th century.
The following account of the haunting of Hinton Ampner House was published in ‘The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain’ by John Ingram (1897).
In the Life of the Rev. Richard Barham, author of The Ingoldsby Legends, by his son, the Rev. R. H. Dalton Barham, some extraordinary particulars are given respecting the haunting of Hinton Ampner Manor House, in Hampshire. Mr. Barham, who had recorded the story in his note-book for 1836, obtained the details from a Mrs. Hughes, who derived them originally from Mrs. Gwynn, a personal witness of the wonders referred to. The latter lady's account was subsequently confirmed by several persons, including the late Duchess of Buckingham, a resident in the neighbourhood.
"The story as told by Mrs. Hughes," says the Rev. Dalton Barham, "though substantially accurate as to incidents, contained some important errors in respect of the dramatis personae. These were, I regret, reproduced in the second edition of my father's Life. I have now, however, thanks to the kindness of certain members of the family mainly interested, the means of correcting them, and of presenting an authentic account of the Haunted House in Hampshire." Mr. Barham then proceeds to narrate the events connected with the presumed supernatural manifestations at Hinton Ampner, and his account we shall chiefly follow, correcting and amplifying it where necessary from the voluminous notes and affidavits cited in the Gentleman's Magazine for November and December 1872, to which periodical the whole affair was communicated under the title of "A Hampshire Ghost Story."
Mrs. [Mary] Ricketts, the lady chiefly concerned with the following narrative, was a woman of aristocratic connections; her brother was the famous Admiral Jervis, afterwards Earl St. Vincent*, and other members of her family held high positions in Church and State. Her husband, William Henry Ricketts, a Bencher of Gray's Inn, was a West Indian landowner; and it was during a somewhat lengthy visit which he paid to his estates in Jamaica that Mrs. Ricketts resided, with her three infant children and servants, in the old Manor House of Hinton Ampner, near Alresford, in Hampshire.
Previous to recounting particulars of the series of strange sights and sounds, the effect of which rendered Mrs. Ricketts' continued occupation of the old manor house an impossibility, it should be premised that that lady, according to all accounts, was a woman of remarkable vigour, both physical and mental. The coolness and courage with which Mrs. Ricketts endured for so long , period the disturbances at the old Hampshire residence certainly speaks strongly in favour of her good sense, and her physical capacity may not inaptly be gauged by the fact that she preserved her intellectual powers unimpaired to the advanced age of ninety-one. Her second son, Edward Jervis, who succeeded his elder brother as Viscount St. Vincent, it may be mentioned, was ninety-two when he died. He is said to have "inherited the fine and powerful intellect of his mother."
The mansion of Hinton Ampner, where, in 1771, Mrs. Ricketts took up her residence, had for many generations been in possession of the Stewkeley family, and on the death of Sir Hugh Stewkeley, the last male heir, passed, by right of his wife, to Edward, Lord Stawell. On the evening of April 2nd, 1755, this nobleman, whilst sitting in the little parlour at Hinton, died suddenly of apoplexy, after having articulated a few words. For the next ten years the house, now become the property of the Right Hon. Henry Bilson Legge, husband of Lord Stawell's daughter, was left chiefly in the occupation of servants, Mr. Legge only visiting it for a month or so during the shooting season. At his death, in 1764, his widow let it to Mr. Ricketts.
For some time prior to the arrival of the new tenants the house seems to have been gradually acquiring an evil reputation; strange sounds were said to have been heard in it, and strange sights seen. In particular it was asserted that the figure of a gentleman in a drab-coloured coat, standing in the moonlight with his hands behind him, after the manner of the late Lord Stawell, was seen by a groom, and recognised by him as that of his deceased master. These reports, however, do not seem to have reached the ears of either Mr. or Mrs. Ricketts, although they had not been long settled at Hinton before their attention was aroused bv certain noises which they themselves heard in the night, as of persons opening and shutting doors with violence. Mr. Ricketts frequently went round the house in the hope of detecting the offenders; but, failing in his efforts to discover the cause of these disturbances, and supposing some ill-disposed persons possessed keys which gave them admission to the house, he had all the locks hanged; but with no better result. The noises were repeated from time to time, yet, apparently, without causing any great annoyance to the family. Towards the close of 1769 Mr. Ricketts was called away to Jamaica, and his wife, who was not only a woman of remarkable vigour, both physical and mental, but whose good sense had acquired additional strength under the training of the learned Nicholas Tindal, determined to remain at home with her three infant children. There were also in the house eight servants, all of whom, it is to be observed, left it from various causes in the course of the following year, and were replaced by others. Soon after the departure of Mr. Ricketts the disturbances became more serious. The servants got frightened. Mrs. Ricketts herself, among other inexplicable sounds, frequently heard the rustling of silk clothes and the steps of someone walking in the adjoining room or lobby. On one occasion sbe plainly distinguished the tread of a man walking heavily towards the foot of her bed. Here it will be as well to furnish some extracts from the account drawn up by Mrs. Ricketts herself of the extraordinary affair.
"About six months after we came thither," is Mrs. Rickett's personal record, "Elizabeth Brelsford, nurse to our eldest son, Henry, then about eight months old, was sitting by him when asleep, in the room over the pantry, appropriated for the nursery, and, being a hot summer's evening, the door was open that faces the entrance into the yellow bed-chamber, which, with the adjoining dressing-room, was the apartment usually occupied by the lady of the house. She was sitting directly opposite to this door, and plainly saw, as she afterwards related, a gentleman in a drab-coloured suit of clothes go into the yellow room. She was in no way surprised at the time, but on the housemaid, Molly Newman, coming up with her supper, she asked what strange gentleman was come. Upon the other answering there was no one, she related what is already described, and desired her fellow-servant to accompany her to search the room; this they did immediately, without any appearance of what she had seen. She was much concerned and disturbed, and she was thoroughly assured she could no ways be deceived, the light being sufficient to distinguish any object clearly. In some time after it was mentioned to me. I treated it as the effect of fear or superstition, to which the lower class of people are so prone; and it was entirely obliterated from my mind till the late astonishing disturbances brought to my recollection this and other previous circumstances.
"In the autumn of the same year George Turner, son of the gardener of that name, who was then groom, crossing the great hall to go to bed, saw at the other end a man in a drab-coloured coat, whom he concluded to be the butler, who wore such coloured clothes, he being lately come, and his livery not made. As he passed immediately upstairs to the room where all the men-servants lay, he was in great astonishment to find the butler and the other men-servants in bed. Thus the person he had seen in the hall remained unaccounted for, like the same person before described by the nurse ; and George Turner, now living, avers these particulars in the same manner he first related them.
"In the month of July, 1767, about seven in the evening, there were sitting in the kitchen, Thomas Wheeler, postilion; Ann Hall, my own woman ; Sarah, waiting-woman to Mrs. Mary Poyntz; and Dame Lacy; the other servants were out, excepting the cook, then employed in washing up her things in the scullery.
"The persons in the kitchen heard a woman come down-stairs, and along the passage leading towards them, whose clothes rustled as of the stiffest silk; and on their looking that way, the door standing open, a female figure rushed past, and out of the house door, as they conceived. Their view of her was imperfect; but they plainly distinguished a tall figure in dark-coloured clothes. Dame Brown, the cook, instantly coming in, siiis figure passed close by her, and- instantly disappeared. She described the person and drapery as before mentioned, and they all united in astonishment who or what this appearance could be; and their surprise was heightened when a man, coming directly through the yard and into the house the way she went out, on being asked who the woman was he met, declared he had seen no one.
"Some time after Mr. Ricketts left me," continues the lady, "I, then lying in the bedroom over the kitchen, heard frequently the noise of someone walking in the room within, and the rustling as of silk clothes against the door that opened into my room, sometimes so loud and of such continuance as to break my rest. Instant search being often made, we never could discover any appearance of human or brute being.
"Repeatedly disturbed in the same manner, I made it my constant practice to search the room and closets within, and to secure the only door that led from that room on the inside in such manner as to be certain no one could gain entrance without passing through my own apartment, which was always made fast by a draw-bolt on the door. Yet this precaution did not preclude the disturbance, which continued with little interruption."
Mrs. Ricketts proceeds to furnish the names and various other particulars of the different domestics she had employed during her residence at the old Manor House, remarking :
"I mention these changes among my domestics, though in themselves unimportant, to evince the impossibility of a confederacy, for the course of nearly seven years, and with a succession of different persons, so that at the time of my leaving Hinton I had not one servant that lived with me at my first going thither, nor for some time afterwards.
"In the summer of 1770, one night that I was lying in the yellow bed-chamber (the same I have mentioned that the person in drab-coloured clothes was seen to enter), I had been in bed half an hour, thoroughly awake, and without the least terror or apprehension on my spirits. I plainly heard the footsteps of a man, with plodding step, walking towards the foot of my bed. I thought the danger too near to ring my bell for assistance, but sprang out of bed, and in an instant was in the nursery opposite ; and with Hannah Streeter and a light I returned to search for what I had heard, but all in vain. There was a light burning in the dressing-room within, as usual, and there was no door or means of escape save at the one that opened to the nursery. This alarm perplexed me more than any preceding, being within my own room, the footsteps as distinct as ever I heard, myself perfectly awake and collected.
"I had, nevertheless, resolution to go to bed alone in the same room, and did not form any conclusion as to the cause of this very extraordinary disturbance. For some months afterwards I did not hear any noise that particularly struck my attention, till, in November of the same year, I then being removed to the chintz bedroom over the hall, as a warmer apartment, I once or twice heard sounds of harmony, and one night in particular I heard three distinct and violent knocks as given with a club, or something very ponderous, against a door below stairs ; it occurred to me that housebreakers must be forcing into some apartment, and I immediately rang my bell. No one hearing the summons, and the noise ceasing, I thought no further of it at that time. After this, and in the beginning of the year 1771, I was frequently sensible of a hollow murmuring that seemed to possess the whole house ; it was independent of wind, being equally heard on the calmest nights, and it was a sound I had never been accustomed to hear.
"On the morning of the 27th February, when Elizabeth Godin came into my room, I inquired what weather. She replying in a very faint tone, I asked if she were ill. She said she was well, but had never in her life been so terrified as during the preceding night; that she had heard the most dismal groans and fluttering round her bed most part of the night, that she had got up to search the room and up the chimney, and though it was a bright moonlight she could not discover anything. I did not pay much attention to her account, but it occurred to me that should anvone tell her it was the room formerly occupied by Mrs. Parfait, the old house-keeper, she would be afraid to lie there again. Mrs. Parfait dying a few days before at Kilmston, was brought and interred in Hinton churchyard the evening of the night this disturbance happened.
"That very day five weeks, being the 2nd of April, I waked between 1 and 2 o'clock, as I found by my watch, which, with a rushlight, was on a table close to my bedside. I lay thoroughly awake for aagae time, and then heard one or more persons walking to and fro in the lobby adjoining. I got out of bed and listened at the door for the space of twenty minutes, in which time I distinctly heard the walking, with the addition of a loud noise like pushing strongly against a door. Being thus assured my senses were not deceived I determined to ring my bell, to which I had before much reluctance on account of disturbing the nursery maid, who was very ill of a fever.
"Elizabeth Godin, during her illness, lay in the room with my sons, and came immediately on hearing my bell. Thoroughly convinced there were persons in the lobby, before I opened my door, I asked her if she saw no one there. On her replying in the negative, I went out to her, examined the window, which was shut, looked under the couch, the only furniture of concealment there; the chimney board was fastened, and, when removed, all was clear behind it. She found the door into the lobby shut, as it was every night. After this examination I stood in the middle of the room, pondering with much astonishment, when suddenly the door that opened into the little recess leading to the yellow apartment sounded as if played to and fro by a person standing behind it. This was more than I could bear unmoved. I ran into the nursery and rang the bell there that goes into the men's apartments. Robert Camis came to the door at the landing place, which door was every night secured, so that no person could get to that floor unless through the windows. Upon opening the door to Robert I told him the reason I had to suppose that someone was entrenched behind the door 1 before mentioned, and, giving him a light and arming him with a billet of wood, myself and Elizabeth Godin waited the event. Upon opening the door there was not any being whatever, and the yellow apartment was locked, the key hanging up, and a great bolt drawn across the outside door, as usual when not in use. There was then no further retreat or hiding place. After dismissing Robert and securing the door, I went to bed in my sons' room, and about half an hour afterwards heard three distinct knocks, as described before; they seemed below, but I could not then or ever after ascertain the place. The next night I lay in my own room; I now and then heard noises and frequently the hollow murmur,
"On the 7th of May, exactly the day five weeks from the 2nd of April, this murmur was uncommonly loud. I could not sleep, apprehending it the prelude to some greater noise. I got up and went to the nursery, stayed there till half an hour past three, and then, being daybreak, I thought I should get some sleep in my own apartment; I returned and lay till ten minutes before four, and then the great hall door directly under me was slapped to with the utmost violence, so as to shake my room perceivably. I jumped out of bed to the window that commands the porch. There was a light to distinguish every object, but none to be seen that could account for what I had heard. Upon examining the door it was found fast locked and bolted as usual.
"From this time I determined to have my woman lie in a little bed in my room. The noises grew more frequent, and she was always sensible of the same sounds, and much in the same direction as they struck me. Harassed and perplexed, I was yet very unwilling to divulge my embarrassment. I had taken every method to investigate the cause, and could not discover the least appearance of trick; on the contrary, I became convinced it was beyond the power of any mortal agent to perform ; but, knowing how exploded such opinions were, I kept them in my own bosom, and hoped my resolution would enable me to support whatever misrht befall.
"After Midsummer the noises became every night more intolerable. They began before I went to bed, and with intermissions were heard till after broad day in the morning. I could frequently distinguish inarticulate sounds, and usuallv a shrill female voice would begin, and then two others with deeper and manlike tone seemed to join in the discourse; yet, though this conversation sounded as if close to me, I never could distinguish words.
"I have often asked Elizabeth Godin if she heard any noise, and of what sort. She as often described the seeming conversation in the manner I have related, and other noises. One night in particular my bed-curtains rustled, and sounded as if dragged by a person walking against them. I then asked her if she heard any noise and of what kind. She spoke of it exactly in the manner I have done. Several times I heard .sounds of harmony within the room no distinct or regular notes, but a vibration of harmonious tones; walking, talking, knocking, opening and slapping of doors were repeated every night. My brother,* who had not long before returned from the Mediterranean, had been to stay with me, yet so great was my reluctance to relate anything beyond the bounds of probability that I could not bring myself to disclose my embarrassed situation to the friend and brother who could most essentially serve and comfort me. The noises continuing in the same manner when he was with me, I wished to learn if he heard them, and one morning I carelessly said: 'I was afraid last night the servants would disturb you, and rang my bell to order them to bed.' He replied he had not heard them. The morning after he left me to return to Portsmouth, about 3 o'clock and daylight, Elizabeth Godin and myself both awake she had been sitting up in bed looking round her, expecting, as she always did, to see something terrible I heard with infinite astonishment the most loud, deep, tremendous noise, which seemed to rush and fall with infinite velocity and force on the lobby floor adjoining to my room. I started up, and called to Godin, 'Good God! did vou hear that noise? 'She made no reply; on repeating the question, she answered with a faltering voice, ' She was so frightened she scarce durst speak.'Just at that instant we heard a shrill and dreadful shriek, seeming to proceed from under the spot where the rushing noise fell, and repeated three or four times, growing fainter as it seemed to descend, till it sank into earth. Hannah Streeter, who lay in the room with my children, heard the same noises, and was so appalled she lay for two hours almost deprived of sense and motion.
"Having heard little of the noises preceding, and that little she did not regard, she had rashly expressed a wish to hear more of them, and from that night till she quitted the house there was scarce a night passed that she did not hear the sound as if some person walked towards her door, and pushed against it, as though attempting to force it open. This alarm, so more than commonly horrible, determined me to impart the whole series to my brother on his return to Hinton, expected in a week. The frequency of the noises, harassing to my rest, and getting up often at unreasonable hours, fixed a slow fever and deep cough, my health was much impaired, but my resolution firm. I remained in anxious expectation of my brother, and he being detained a week longer at Portsmouth than he had foreseen, it occurred to me to endeavour, by changing my apartment, to obtain a little rest. I removed to that formerly occupied by Elizabeth Godin. I did not mention my intention till 10 at night, when the room was prepared, and I went to bed soon after. 1 had scarce lain down when the same noises surrounded me that I before have related, and I mention the circumstance of changing my room without previous notice to prove the impossibility of a plan of operations being so suddenly conveyed to another part of the house, were they such as human agents could achieve. The week following I was comforted by the arrival of my brother. However desirous to impart the narrative, yet I forbore till the next morning; I wished him to enjoy a night's rest, and therefore contented myself with preparing him to hear on the morrow the most astonishing tale that ever assailed his ears, and that he must summon all his trust of my veracity to meet my relation. He replied it was scarce possible for me to relate any matter he could not believe, little divining the nature of what I had to offer to his faith.
"The next morning I began my narrative, to which he attended with mixed surprise and wonder. Just as I had finished, Captain Luttrell, our neighbour at Kilmston, chancing to call, induced my brother to impart the whole to him, who in a very friendly manner offered to unite his endeavours to investigate the cause. It was then agreed he should come late in the evening, and divide the night watch between them, keeping profoundly secret there was any such intention. My brother took the precaution, accompanied by his own servant, John Bolton, to go into every apartment, particularly those on the first and attic story, examined every place of concealment, and saw each door fastened, save those to chambers occupied by the family. This done, he went to bed in the room over the servants' hall.
"Captain Luttrell and my brother's man, with arms, Bat up in the chintz room adjoining, and my brother was to be called on any alarm.
"I lay that night in Elizabeth Godin's room, atid the children in the nurseries ; thus every chamber on that floor was occupied. I bolted and locked the door that opened to that floor from the back stairs, so that there was no entrance unless through the room where Captain Luttrell kept watch.
"So soon as I lay down, I heard a rustling as of a person close to the door. I ordered Elizabeth Godin to sit up a while, and, if the noise continued, to go and acquaint Mr. Luttrell. " She heard it, and instantly Mr. Luttrell's room door was thrown open, and we heard him speak.
"I must now give his account, as related to my brother and myself the next morning.
"He said he heard the footsteps of a person walking across the lobby, that he instantly threw the door open, and called, 'Who goes there? 'That something flitted past him, when my brother directly called out, ' Look against my door.' He was awake, and heard what Mr. Luttrell had said, and also the continuance of the same noise till it reached his door. He arose and joined Mr. Luttrell. Both astonished, they heard various other noises, examined everywhere, found the staircase door fast secured as I had left it. I lay so near, and had never closed my eyes; no one could go to that door unheard. My brother and his man proceeded up-stairs, and found the servants in their own rooms, and all doors closed as they had seen just before. They sat up together, my brother and Mr. Luttrell, till break of day, when my brother returned to his own chamber. About that time, as I imagined., I heard the chintz room door opened and slammed to with the utmost violence, and immediately that of the hall chamber opened and shut in the same manner. I mentioned to Godin my surprise that my brother, who was ever attentive not to alarm or disturb the children, should hazard both by such vehement noise. An hour after I heard the house door open and slam in the same way, so as to shake the house. No one person was then up, for, as I had never slept, I heard the servants rise and go down about half an hour afterwards. When we were assembled at breakfast, I observed the noise my brother had made with the doors.
"Mr. Luttrell replied, ' I assure you Jervis made not the least noise; it was your door and the next I heard opened and slapped in the way you describe.'
"My brother did not hear either. He afterwards acknowledged to me that when gone to bed, and Mr. Luttrell and I were sitting below, he heard dreadful groans and various noises that he was then and after unable to account for. His servant was at that time with mine below.
"Captain Luttrell declared the disturbances of the preceding night were of such a nature that the house was an unfit residence for any human being. My brother, though more guarded in his expressions, concurred in that opinion, and the result of our deliberations was to send an express to Mr. Sainsbury, Lady Hillsborough's steward, to request he would come over immediately on a very particular occasion, with which he would be made acquainted on his arrival.
"Unluckily, Mr. Sainsbury was confined with tho gout, and sent over his clerk, a youth of fifteen, to whom we judged it useless and improper to divulge the circumstances.
"My brother sat up every night of the week he then passed at Hinton. In the middle of one of these nights I was surprised with the sound of a gun or pistol let off near me, immediately followed by groans, as of a person in agonies, or expiring, that seemed to proceed between my chamber and the next, the nursery. I sent Godin to Nurse Horner, to ask if she had heard any noise; she had not. Upon my inquiry the next morning of my brother, he had (not?) heard it, though the report and groans were loud and deep.
"Several instances occurred where very loud noises were heard by one or two persons, when those equally near and in the same direction were not sensible of the least impression.
"As the watching every night made it necessary for my brother to gain rest in the day, he usually lay down after dinner. During one of these times he was gone to rest, I had sent the children and their attendants out to walk, the dairymaid gone to milk, the cook in the scullery, my own woman with my brother's man sitting together in the servant's hall; I, reading in the parlour, heard my brothers bell ring with great quickness. I ran to his room, and he asked me if I had heard any noise; "because," said he, "as I was lying wide awake an immense weight seemed to fall through the ceiling to the floor just by that mahogany press and it is impossible I should be deceived.' His man was by this time come up, and said he was sitting underneath the room, as I before mentioned, and heard not the least noise. The inquiry and attention my brother devoted to investigate this affair was such as from the reach of his capacity and ardent spirit might be expected; the result was his earnest request that I would quit the place, and, when obliged to return to Portsmouth, that I would permit him to send Mr. Nichols, his Lieutenant of Marines, and an old friend of the family, to continue till my removal with me. ^
"One circumstance is of a nature so singularly striking that I cannot omit to relate it. In one of our evening's conversations on this wonderful train of disturbances I mentioned a very extraordinary effect I had frequently observed in a favourite cat that was usually in the parlour with me, and when sitting on table or chair with accustomed unconcern she would suddenly slink down as if struck with the greatest terror, conceal herself under my chair, and put her head close to my feet. In a short space of time she would come forth quite unconcerned. I had not long given him this account before it was verified to him in a striking manner. We neither, then, nor I at other times, perceived the least noise that could give alarm to the animal, nor did I ever perceive the like effect before these disturbances, nor afterwards, when she was removed with me to another habitation. The servants gave the same account of a spaniel that lived in the house, but to that, as I did not witness, I cannot testify."
Various causes, as Mr. Barham records, were assigned in the neighbourhood for these supernatural visitations. The most popular reason was that which connected the late Lord Stawell, " a notorious evil liver," with the anifestations. He had had in his employment as a bailiff a certain Isaac Mackrel, a man with a remarkably hoarse, guttural voice, and one who was declared to have been well, or rather ill known as a pander to his master's vices. Although Mackrel had been detected in robbing his master, he was retained in his service, having evidently some private hold upon him.
There had resided in the Manor House with Lord Stawell a younger sister of his deceased wife, and, it was rumoured, a guilty intrigue had been carried on between these two. Although no child was known positively to have been born, strong suspicions had been entertained on that score by the village gossips. The lady died at Hinton in 1754. In the year following Lord Stawell, as has been said, expired in a fit of apoplexy, and sometime after the steward was killed by the fall of a fagot-stack.
Mrs. Ricketts and her friends endeavoured to trace out the origin of these rumours, but without much success. One day, indeed, an old man living in the poorhouse at West Meon came to her, and said that his wife had often related to him that, in her younger days, a carpenter had told her that he was once sent for by Sir Hugh Stewkeley, and directed by him to take up some boards in the lobby, and that Sir Hugh had concealed something, which he (the carpenter) conceived was treasure. Some investigation appears to have been made in consequence of this communication, but nothing came of it.
Sixtv pounds reward was offered bv Ladv Stawell for discovery of the cause of the disturbances, and this offer Mr. Ricketts, on his return to England, increased to one hundred, but no claim was ever made for the monev.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Ricketts removed to YVolvesey, the palace of the Bishop of Winchester, with whom she was connected by marriage. After her removal the people left in charge complained of some annoyances, but the manifestations do not appear to have been so frequent nor so terrifying.
Eventually the Manor House was let to a Mr. Lawrence, who forbade the servants saying a word about the disturbances, under penalty of losing their places. Not-withstanding this judicious rule, rumours were still propagated, and it was stated that once, when the housemaid was standing in the lobby, a female figure rushed past and disappeared. Mr. Lawrence brought his family with him to Hinton, but, doubtless, the manifestations were too much for them; he only stayed in the house for a year, and then left it suddenly.
After this, the Manor House was never occupied. In 1797 it was pulled down, and under the floor of the lobby there was found a box containing bones and what was said to be the skull of a monkey. No regular inquiry was made into the matter, and no professional opinion was ever sought as to the real character of the relic.
The only person thought able to throw any light upon the mystery was an old woman who had been housekeeper in Lord Stawell's time: on her death-bed she expressed a desire to make a confession to a member of the Jervis family, but unfortunately she expired before the lady summoned could arrive.
It is declared that the subject was always a very sore one with the first Lord St. Vincent, and that any allusion to it commonly brought down a rebuke upon anyone who ventured to make it.
*Admiral of the Fleet John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent (Born 9 January 1735 – Died 14 March 1823)