Hinton Ampner, a stately Georgian mansion, is more than just an architectural marvel. Its walls hold tales of spectral sightings and paranormal activities that have both intrigued and terrified its residents and visitors alike.
The house’s haunted reputation dates back to the 18th century when it was under the ownership of the Ricketts family.
The family began to experience a series of strange disturbances, from doors slamming violently to agitated footsteps echoing through the rooms.
Despite changing all the locks in the house, the eerie occurrences continued, leading the family to accept that they were living in a haunted house.
The hauntings escalated dramatically when Mr. Ricketts was called away to his estates in Jamaica, leaving his wife and children to face the supernatural entities alone.
Mrs. Ricketts and her visitors reported hearing disembodied voices and experiencing other paranormal activities, further cementing the house’s haunted reputation.
Today, the Hinton Ampner House is a testament to Britain’s haunted history, its chilling tales continuing to captivate those who venture into its past.
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The Early History and Construction of Hinton Ampner House
The surrounding area of Hinton bears the marks of ancient civilizations, with remnants of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements adding a layer of historical depth to the landscape.
The first mention of Hinton in historical records dates back to the Domesday survey of 1086, which noted the presence of a church and 8 Hides, a unit of land measurement used during the period.
However, the story of the Hinton Ampner House began much later, in the 1540s, with the construction of a grand Tudor Manor House.
Over the centuries, the house changed hands multiple times, each new owner leaving their mark on its history.
The Stewkeley family took over the lease in 1597, and the estate eventually passed to Mary Stewkeley and her husband, Edward Stawell, in 1719.
Their descendant, Henry Stawell Bilson-Legge, boldly decided to demolish the Tudor house and replace it with a new building, marking a significant transformation in the house’s architectural history.
The Notable Residents and Their Influence on the House
The story of Hinton Ampner is intrinsically linked to its residents’ lives, aspirations, and fears. Two figures, in particular, played a significant role in shaping the house’s destiny: William Henry Ricketts and his wife, Mary Ricketts.
Born in 1736, William Henry Ricketts inherited the Hinton Ampner estate from his father in 1760.
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A man of considerable wealth and influence, Ricketts embarked on an ambitious project to remodel the house in the fashionable Palladian style.
His vision was to create a residence that reflected his status and taste, a house that would stand as a symbol of his family’s prosperity.
Under Ricketts’ direction, the house underwent significant alterations. The Tudor manor was transformed into a grand mansion, complete with a symmetrical facade, ornate interiors, and meticulously landscaped gardens.
However, Ricketts’ dream home would soon become the stage for a series of unsettling events that would cast a long shadow over the house’s history.
Mary Ricketts, William’s wife, played an equally crucial role in the house’s history.
A woman of strong character and deep religious faith, Mary was known for her devotion to her family and her home.
However, her life at Hinton Ampner was marred by a series of strange occurrences she documented in her diaries. Her accounts of inexplicable noises, ghostly apparitions, and a pervasive sense of unease added a chilling chapter to the house’s history.
The Demolition and Reconstruction of the House in 1793
By 1793, the disturbances had become so intense that the Ricketts decided to demolish the house and rebuild it further away from the original site.
The new house, completed in 1797, was an architectural masterpiece, a testament to the Georgian style’s elegance and symmetry.
Yet, despite the change in location and the passage of time, the tales of hauntings continued to be associated with the Hinton Ampner estate.
The house passed into the Dutton family in 1803, and Ralph Dutton, the 8th and last Baron Sherborne, gave the place its final makeover in the Neo-Georgian style between 1936 and 1939.
His vision was to create a house that reflected the grandeur of a Georgian country house, complete with a reproduction of a ceiling by Robert Adam in the dining room.
During the Second World War, the house was a refuge for girls from the Portsmouth Girls School, providing them a safe haven away from the city.
However, the house’s history took a dramatic turn in 1960 when a devastating fire caused extensive damage. The house was restored to its 1936 appearance, and Ralph Dutton created the current garden layout, transforming it into a modern 20th-century garden.
With no direct heirs, Ralph Dutton bequeathed the estate to the National Trust in 1985, ensuring that the legacy of the Hinton Ampner would be preserved for future generations.
Signs of Paranormal Activity
Hinton Ampner, despite its serene exterior and picturesque surroundings, has been a hotbed of paranormal activity.
The first signs of these supernatural disturbances emerged during the late 18th century when the Ricketts family still owned the house.
The family, particularly Mary Ricketts, began to experience a series of inexplicable events that would forever mark Hinton Ampner as one of Britain’s most haunted houses.
The Ghost of Edward Stawell, 4th Baron Stawell
The Ghost of Edward Stawell, 4th Baron Stawell, is one of the most frequently reported apparitions at Hinton Ampner.
Stawell, a previous owner of the estate, was often seen wandering the grounds and the house’s corridors. His spectral figure, dressed in period clothing, has been spotted by numerous witnesses, adding a layer of historical intrigue to the hauntings.
The figure was often seen in a drab-colored coat, standing in the moonlight with his hands behind him, a posture reminiscent of the late Lord Stawell. Various individuals have witnessed this apparition, including a groom who recognized the figure as his deceased master.
Mrs. Ricketts’ Terrifying Experiences
Perhaps the most compelling accounts of the hauntings come from Mary Ricketts. She documented a series of chilling experiences in her diaries, from seeing ghostly figures to hearing strange sounds.
Her accounts provide a firsthand glimpse into the supernatural occurrences that have made Hinton Ampner infamous.
In her personal record, Mrs. Ricketts describes an incident where a nurse, Elizabeth Brelsford, saw a gentleman in a drab-colored suit of clothes enter the yellow room.
Despite an immediate search, no one was found. However, this incident was dismissed as the effect of fear or superstition until the later disturbances brought it back to Mrs. Ricketts’ recollection.
Here is a short excerpt from one of Mrs. Ricketts’ diaries recounting the event:
About six months after we came thither, 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, appropriate 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 this door, and plainly saw, as she afterward related, a gentleman in a drab-colored suit of clothes enter 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.
Mrs. Ricketts also recounts the experience of George Turner, the gardener’s son, who saw a man in a long blue coat in the great hall. He assumed it was the butler, who wore such colored clothes.
However, upon reaching his room, he found the butler and the other men-servants in bed, leaving the identity of the figure he saw unaccounted for.
Here is another fragment describing the event:
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-colored coat, whom he concluded to be the butler, who wore such colored 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.
Even Mrs. Ricketts herself experienced numerous disturbances.
She frequently heard the rustling of silk clothes and the steps of someone walking in the adjoining room or lobby. On one occasion, she distinctly heard the tread of a man walking heavily towards the foot of her bed.
Despite her efforts to investigate these disturbances, she could not discover their source.
Harry Price’s Investigation
His most notable work was his analysis of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England.
However, his work was not limited to this location. He also conducted a series of investigations at Hinton Ampner, which were documented in his book “Poltergeist Over England.”
Price’s approach to this case was methodical and scientific, as he was known for using advanced tools and equipment to document and analyze paranormal phenomena.
During his time at Hinton Ampner, Price documented several paranormal phenomena, from mysterious apparitions to poltergeist activity. He concluded that the property was, indeed, haunted by several ghosts.
However, Price’s investigations were not without controversy. Some critics argued that his methods were flawed or that he was too quick to dismiss potential explanations for the phenomena he observed.
Despite these criticisms, Price’s work at Hinton Ampner remains one of the most detailed and comprehensive investigations of a haunted house.
Hinton Ampner Today
Today, Hinton Ampner stands as a proud testament to Britain’s architectural heritage and its intriguing history of the supernatural.
In 1985, the house was handed over to the National Trust, a charitable organization dedicated to preserving and showcasing the United Kingdom’s historical and natural treasures.
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As a National Trust property, Hinton Ampner has opened its doors to the public, allowing visitors to explore its elegant interiors, beautiful gardens, and, of course, its haunted history.
Visitor Experiences and Reviews
Visitors to Hinton Ampner are often struck by the stark contrast between its tranquil setting and the chilling tales of its haunted past.
The house’s beautifully preserved Georgian architecture, meticulously landscaped gardens, and stunning views of the South Downs offer a serene backdrop to the stories of ghostly apparitions and strange disturbances.
Reviews from visitors often highlight the house’s atmospheric charm, with many noting a sense of unease or eeriness, particularly in certain parts of the house.
Some visitors even claim to have experienced paranormal activity during their visit, from feeling sudden cold spots to hearing unexplained noises.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hinton Ampner in England?
Hinton Ampner is a stately Georgian mansion located in Hampshire, England. It’s known for its beautiful architecture, landscaped gardens, and reputation as one of Britain’s most haunted houses.
Where is Hinton Ampner?
Hinton Ampner is located in the county of Hampshire, in the South East of England. The house is situated near the village of Bramdean.
When was Hinton Ampner in England built?
The original Hinton Ampner House was believed to have been built in the 1540s. The current structure was built in 1797, after the original house was demolished due to intense paranormal activity.
Was Hinton Ampner really haunted?
While it’s a matter of personal belief, Hinton Ampner has a long history of reported hauntings. Numerous accounts of paranormal activity have been associated with the house, from ghostly apparitions to unexplained noises.
Who was the poltergeist at the Hinton Ampner?
The identity of the poltergeist at Hinton Ampner House is not definitively known. However, one of the most frequently reported apparitions is the ghost of Edward Stawell, the 4th Baron Stawell, a previous estate owner.