Woodrow High House, Amersham
The Grade II listed Woodrow High House generally dates to the 18th century though incorporates the fabric of an earlier 17th century house linked to Oliver Cromwell. No longer a family home, Woodrow High House is now a residential training centre run by London Youth (Federation of London Youth Clubs), or should I say a reputed haunted training centre.
During the English Civil War (1642–1651) Oliver Cromwell, regicide and Lord Protector, housed his wife, Elizabeth Bourchier (Born 1598 – Died 1665) and their daughters, Elizabeth (Born 1629 – Died 1658), Mary (Born 1637 – Died 1713), Frances (Born 1638 – 1720) and Bridget (Born 1624 – 1662) at Woodrow High House. (Frances and Mary are thought to haunt St Nicholas’s Churchyard, Chiswick). According to the Quarter Sessions From Queen Elizabeth to Queen Anne (1878) Captain James Thomson occupied the house after the Cromwell’s.
On 6th July 1685 the Battle of Sedgemoor was fought between the forces of King James II and the rebel James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth (Born 9 April 1649 – Executed 15 July 1685). Folowing Monmouth’s defeat his supporters dispersed and fled for their lives. One of these is said to be Sir Peter Bostock who, according to a local story made his way to Woodrow High House and his fiancee, Lady Helena Stanhope. Helena hid Bostock in a grotto within the grounds (now the location of the low ropes course). Through one way or another his location was discovered, possibly when she would make her way to the grotto to feed him. He was killed by the authorities for his part in the Monmouth Rebellion and Lady Helena Stanhope commited suicide. Possibly by taking poison. Another version of the tale names Lady Stanhopes guardian as Sir Peter Bostock of Woodrow High House and does not name her lover caught in the grounds. Lady Alice Lisle (born September 1617 – died 2 September 1685) of Moyles Court, Hampshire was executed for hiding fugitives from the Battle of Sedgemoor, so suicide may have been the best option for Lady Helena Stanhope and her family.
Sir Nigel Leslie Campbell (High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire 1937) bought the house in 1909 and sold it to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in 1945 and donated it Federation of London Youth Clubs.
During World War II a school evacuated from Portsmouth were housed at Woodrow High House.
According to a 2005 article in The Croydon Guardian entitled ‘Ghost author lifts lid on the supernatural’ ‘Woodrow High House in Amersham is reportedly home to the Green Lady of Woodrow, the ghost of former resident Lady Helena Stanhope.
Lady Stanhope committed suicide in the grounds of the house after her lover, Sir Peter Bostock, was executed for treason in the 17th century.
Now the Green Lady has once again made her presence known at the house.
John Fidgett, deputy director of the Residential and Training Centre for London Youth at Woodrow House, said: “We were re-arranging some furniture in a room that has two huge portraits of Lady Stanhope and Sir Peter side-by-side.
“The builders removed the picture of Bostock and took it downstairs to the cellar. The next morning the portrait of Lady Stanhope had fallen off the wall and was face down on the floor, directly above the cellar.
“There was no sign of forced entry and the dust that had settled overnight had not been disturbed. It would take two strong men to have lifted that picture off the wall.
“It’s really spooky and I won’t allow the portraits to be separated from now on.”
This haunted location and many others across south Bucks have been collected together by ghost-hunting historian Rupert Matthews, who has recently published a book on his findings.
Mr Matthews says in his book that in 1946, a workman converting Woodrow High House for its current use as a youth club saw a woman dressed in green glide across a corridor of the house, before passing through a closed door and out into the surrounding woods.
Since then the story of the Green Lady made the High House famous.
Mr Fidgett adds: “Every child that comes here wants to know about the Green Lady. We always tell the ghost story to the children and make sure we put in some loud screams. I have a 16-year-old daughter who bears a passing resemblance to the lady. She sometimes dresses up in green and surprises the guests.”