Tuesday, 1 December 2009

St. Peter's Church - Broad Hinton


South View


North View


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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

having been born in the village in 1932 and never heard of any of these events I think they are absolute nonsense and a figment of your imagination

Willow said...

Thanks for your comment ‘Anonymous’. I respect your point of view as someone who has clearly spent much of their life in the village and is no doubt familiar with its history.

The story of Lady Winnifred Glanville, is, as far as I am aware and through my own research; accurate. The validity of her ghost however is purely anecdotal as are all ghost stories in my opinion. Having said that, references to her haunting do appear in several publications dealing with Wiltshire’s legends, folklore and hauntings.

During my visit to Broad Hinton, I chanced to meet with several locals, some of whom confirmed the stories adding their own twists and some, like yourself who did not.

My reference to ley lines (hypothetical veins of subterranean energy said to link ancient sites and buildings) are, for those who believe in such phenomena, well known in the area. Indeed, I am given to understand that dowsing is still occasionally practiced in and around the village.

I should point out that this blog is totally impartial toward the subject matter and is designed purely as a reference.

I remain as always an open-minded sceptic

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I went to the church to take a star trail photograph for my best friends wedding present. I got to the church around midnight, set my camera up facing the church, set it to continuous and left. I went home and returned two hours later, retrieved my camera and took it back to my house to see the results. About 1/4 of the way through the photos, a shadow appears from the right side of the church, followed by the next photo, a huge light enomaly. i am neither saying it was or wasn't supernatural as I am open to all explanations. The following week, I'm at my friends wedding rehearsal, and afterwards I approached the vicar and said I had a question for her. "Say I came into the church at night time to take a photo...would I get into trouble for trespassing?". "No" she replied, so I told her the past events and I got as far as saying "came to the church at night to take a photo" she said. "You got something on camera didn't you." It didnt seem like a question, but I replied "yes". "The White lady?" She said. I continued to show her the series of photographs and she smiled and nodded "yes you saw the White lady!". I'm not sure if this is the woman from your blog, a car pulling into the car park 50 meters away, the moon shining through a haze or any other possibility. It has however made me look into who or what it could have been.
I was born and grew up in the village, I have had one other "ghost" encounter which I am very open to other possibilities.
I hope this is of some interest. If you have an email address I would be more than happy to send you the photos of you would like to post them.
Chris.m.

Willow said...

Thanks for your comment ChrisM. Interesting story. I would like very much to see your photographs. It is extremely difficult to authenticate ghost photos as I'm sure you can understand but they are always a source of interest which promote discussion.

The 'White Lady' is reputedly that of Lady Granville who is said to be searching for her lost treasure.

You can contact me via the link email address in the sidebar. 'Comments' is a Google no reply service I‘m afraid.

James Moffatt said...

Hi, I read your article and found it quite interesting. Lady Winifred, through my maternal line, is my 10th great-grandmother, and the two stories of the burning of the manor both have some truth. The house was indeed burned down by the couple, and though I have heard of the story of lady Winifred burning the house in a fit of madness, it must be noted that John Evelyn (the celebrated diarist and contemporary of Samuel Pepys) , whose wife was a cousin of Glanville's, visited, and noted that Glanville was residing in the lodge house as a result of burning his house down to prevent Cromwell setting up a garrison there. As for the taxes, when Sir Glanville was imprisoned, he was required to pay a sum of £2320 in fines, which roughly equals £270,000 in real money today, or £80,000,000, in economic power today. Much along the lines of many hard-done-by noble families, it was common to bury heirlooms in hidden vaults for future non-taxed generations to prevent the family being essentially dissolved, so it is perhaps likely that this is what Lady Glanville did. As for the family, their end as such was near. Whilst a great fortune had been amassed by Sir John Glanville and his father, it was John the younger's son that sold the manor, where it would eventually end up in the ownership of the 1st Dule of Wellington. Johns son, Edward, was my 8th Great Grandfather, who, whilst born in Broad Hinton, died in Devon. Through a successive male line, it got to my grandmother.
James Moffatt.

James Moffatt said...

Hi, I read your article and found it quite interesting. Lady Winifred, through my maternal line, is my 10th great-grandmother, and the two stories of the burning of the manor both have some truth. The house was indeed burned down by the couple, and though I have heard of the story of lady Winifred burning the house, it must be noted that John Evelyn (the celebrated diarist and contemporary of Samuel Pepys) , whose wife was a cousin of Glanville's, visited, and noted that Glanville was residing in the lodge house as a result of burning his house down to prevent Cromwell setting up a garrison there. As for the taxes, when Sir Glanville was imprisoned, he was required to pay a sum of £2320 in fines, which roughly equals £270,000 in real money today, or £80,000,000, in economic power today. Much along the lines of many hard-done-by noble families, it was common to bury heirlooms in hidden vaults for future non-taxed generations to prevent the family being essentially dissolved, so it is perhaps likely that this is what Lady Glanville did. As for the family, their end as such was near. Whilst a great fortune had been amassed by Sir John Glanville and his father, it was John the younger's son that sold the manor, where it would eventually end up in the ownership of the 1st Dule of Wellington. Johns son, Edward, was my 8th Great Grandfather, who, whilst born in Broad Hinton, died in Devon. Through a successive male line, it got to my grandmother.
James Moffatt.

Willow said...

Hello James.

Thanks you for comment and fascinating history.