An Unpleasant Experience This Way Comes
St. Peter’s ad Vincula Broad Hinton
Earliest records for St. Peter’s were thought to date back to the thirteenth century but when discovering a pair of 10th century Saxon window-heads during repairs in the nineteenth century, which are an integral part of the interior walls (one to north face of the chancel arch and one to the west of the vestry) records had to be amended. The church was restored in 1634-35 and what you see today has remained pretty much unchanged.
Stepping through the lych-gate from the north, I was immediately struck by St. Peter’s quiet serenity but then I guess most churches convey a sense of tranquility. Little did I know what was in store when my good lady and I reached the back of the church. More about that later and not what you're thinking!
Lady Winnifred Glanville of Broad Hinton Manor and Her Lost Treasure
There is a story that relates to a period in 1645, when one Lady Glanville, on hearing that none other than Oliver Cromwell himself was to pay her a personal visit to claim back unpaid taxes (parliament had decreed it was to recover all taxes owed during the years of 1644 - 1645) which she and her husband insisted had already been paid in full.
Fearing the worst, so the story goes. Lady Glanville quickly gathered up all her silver, jewels and cash and secretly buried them somewhere in Broad Hinton village. She was determined that Cromwell would not extort anymore from the family estate. I have to say, when researching for this post the validity of Cromwell actually visiting Lady Granville in person is debatable. I would venture it was most likely a consort of Cromwell’s rather than the man himself. Having said that, for this post, what the hell! Cromwell it is then.
Arriving at Broad Hinton Manor, Cromwell and his men were met at the door by a distraught Lady Glanville brandishing a burning torch. Taken aback by the woman’s belligerent demeanor, Cromwell watched in disbelief as Lady Glanville hurled the torch back into the Manor directly onto a pile of wood that she had stacked in the hall in preparation for his impending visit. The house was immediately engulfed in flames and Cromwell, seeing Lady Glanville had obviously lost her mind (as indeed she later would, suffering a breakdown and dementia) left empty handed and no doubt a tad bewildered.
There is another version of the story, that suggests that Sir John Glanville, Lady Glanville’s husband, set light to the property well before Cromwell arrived and in so doing denied Cromwell and his men any claim to the property. I think the first version is more exciting. Picture the dear woman waving a burning torch under Cromwell’s nose, sounds so much more heroic.
Much later, a broken-hearted and mentally fragile Lady Glanville, surprising really: her husband now incarcerated in the Tower of London (formerly the speaker of the House of Commons) for supporting the wrong side during the Civil Wars. Her son Francis - dead, a victim of the same war, his body returned to Broad Hinton by request from Lady Glanville where he was interned within St. Peter‘s Church. A statue of Francis was commissioned by Lady Glanville and can be seen in the church along with his gloves and helmet.
So. Lady Glanville, now frail of mind could never remember where she had buried her loot. It is believed to this day, that somewhere in the village of Broad Hinton there lays buried a considerable fortune. It is this fortune that Lady Glanville's ghost is said to search for. A spectral figure dressed in period costume with a mournful expression is said to wonder the churchyard and the area near to the church tower. Some have even claimed to have seen her ghost about the village, close to where the Manor used to stand.
St.Peter’s Ley Line
Now, back to the rear of the church as promised. To the north is the tower, beside which are several stone steps which lead down to an underground chamber of sorts. Not sure what the chamber is, or was used for as it was pitch black. It was whilst my good lady was descending these steps that she was suddenly gripped by an intense feeling of nausea, so much so, that she was unable to reach the bottom and had to return to the top. After a few minutes she called me over and ask me to go down the steps. I asked her what was down there that I should be interested in. “Never mind that just go down the steps,” she insisted. She said nothing of her experience as I started down the steps. On reaching the bottom she asked whether I had felt anything. “No, what am I supposed to be feeling?” I replied. It was then she told me what happened. Reluctantly she followed me down but again she felt unwell and had to return to the top.
Later, when I was researching the history of the church, I noticed in one journal a reference to a ley line. To my surprise, the document indicated that the ley ran approximate where the tower and steps are. For those not in to know, a ley line is a hypothetical line of ‘earth energy’ which is thought to align ancient monuments and places of geographical and historic importance. This ley happens to connect the village of Bincknoll Castle to St. Peter’s Church, where is passes through the lych-gate then on past the rear of the tower. From there, it traces a line to Avebury, then terminates at Tan Hill..
Now, I’m given to understand that there are positive and negative leys and that the latter can make some people who are of a sensitive nature feel stressed, nauseous and generally uncomfortable. What was of greater interest was the discovery that one of the locations where the ghostly figure of Lady Glanville has reputably been seen is close to those very same steps. Interesting me thinks.
Photograph, Chris Martin. For a full account relating to the above image, go to the 'comments' page at the foot of the post.