Monday, 23 August 2010

Newark Park - Wotton-Under-Edge (Gloucs)


Newark Park House


Part of the Haunted Stairway


The Tudor Bedroom

Newark Park estate is situated close to the town of Wotton-Under-Edge. It stands in Gothic splendour high on a limestone cliff giving spectacular views over Gloucestershire, the Mendip Hills and the Marlborough Downs.

Newark Park was built by Sir Nicolas Poyntz in 1550 as a Tudor hunting lodge, originally named ‘New Walk‘, it was largely constructed from building material acquired from Kingswood Abbey some five miles away. Following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, much of the Abbey was demolished and the stone and timbers used for building elsewhere. Today, only the 16th Century gatehouse and some precinct walling remain of what must have been a once grand Abbey. It is thought by some researchers of the paranormal who lend support to the ‘imprint’ theory, that Newark’s hauntings may be the result of Kingswood Abbeys restless monks, who, by means unknown have managed to transferred from Kingswood to Newark.

The Clutterbuck family purchased the house in 1790 and commissioned James Wyatt, a renown English architect to update and extend it introducing a Georgian gothic arched porch and a new remodelled south elevation.

In 1949 the National Trust took possession of the lease and a further twenty years of letting ensued. A succession of tenants adapted the house for use as a nursing home for the elderly. By 1970 it had become very rundown and neglected. Nature had reclaimed the once beautiful gardens and the house was now in a state of disrepair. The Trust were desperate to find someone willing to rescue the house from almost certain ruin. Eventually, the lease was taken by Robert Parsons, a Texan, who in 1971 signed the agreement on the understanding that he would restore the house and gardens, which he did and dedicated much of his life in doing so. He was joined in the early 1980’s by Michael Claydon, who is still the current occupier, together they finished the project. Robert Parsons died in 2000 after a short illness but during his occupancy he was convinced the house was haunted.

One article written in 1978, stated unequivocally ‘the house has many ghosts’ and went on to surmise that the sound of footsteps on the stairs could be the Abbot of Kingswood searching for his lost abbey and that the hauntings would subside when the restoration to the house were complete. This is not a new theory, some believe that by disturbing a buildings fabric, it can in some cases trigger paranormal activity. As for spooks hitching a ride from building to building…

Robert Parsons spent much of his time living alone when the house was semi derelict, he claimed to have experienced many inexplicable disturbances. He would often lie in bed night after night listening to the sounds of heavy footsteps on the stairs which lead up to the first floor. The footsteps would often be accompanied by tapping, rapping, thumping and knocking. Michael Claydon has also heard similar inexplicable sounds coming from the stairs and also the terrifying crash of doors being slammed at great force. The stairs, more than anywhere else in the house, seem to have developed into a ‘hotbed’ for unexplained phenomena . On one occasion, Michael Claydon was going downstairs from the second floor when he noticed his dog Boston, a Great Dane, on the half landing with hackles raised and emitting a slow growl whilst appearing to watch something at the foot of the stairs. Michael watched in stunned bewilderment as the animal moved its head, apparently tracking the progress of something unseen. This chilling behaviour lasted all of 10 minutes, Michael and Boston were alone in the house. Many guests and visitors to Newark have claimed of feeling uneasy when on the stairs, especially between the ground and first floor.

At the top of the house is the Tudor Bedroom, most likely to have been the bedchamber of Sir Nicolas Poyntz. Many guests staying in that room have been woken by the sounds of shuffling footsteps coming from the other side of the door and also the sound of something heavy being dragged across the floor. The muffled voices of women, soft whispers and men arguing, are another ghostly feature of this bedroom. As I looked about the room I was amused to see some light reading that Michael Claydon had made available for his guests on one of the bedside tables: Great Ghost Stories, The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories and one or two similar tomes, which I am sure were carefully selected so as to keep his guests at their ease - nice one.

Many researchers of the paranormal have held vigils at Newark and still do. Peter Underwood, the celebrated author and acclaimed ghost researcher, spent several days with members of The Ghost Club and obtained some surprising results. A full and detailed account of their visit is available to read in his book Nights in Haunted Houses..



The house has a long history of hauntings, all have been audible but none, I am given to understand have been visual, unless of course you count the strange photograph above.

This curious amorphous shape was captured quite by chance when a professional photographer was taking promotional photographs for the National Trust’s handbook. He was blissfully unaware of the ’blemish’ during the shoot and only discovered it when later developing the film. He immediately contacted Michael Claydon who has since put the photograph on display in the upper part of the house. I will leave to you to decide what is in the photograph. Coincidentally, the image was captured outside the Tudor Bedroom.

Michael Claydon welcomes visitors to his home and is always fascinated when people claim to have seen or heard something in one of the rooms. There have been incidences where visitors have felt uneasy in certain parts of the house, more often than not on the stairs.

Should you wish to do some ghost hunting of your own, the National Trust hires out an apartment on the first floor that accommodates six.

21 comments:

maj6 said...

Having just spent 2 nights at the Clutterbuck Apartment, Newark Park, the first being peaceful, the 2nd definitely not with 4 of our party having experiences difficult to explain I would recommend a visit, the house has some serious vibes!

Willow said...

Hi maj6.

Thanks for your comment. I would be very interested to learn more of your second night.

maj6 said...

Hi Willow
When we first arrived,upon entering the kitchen both the kettle and the cd player came on by themselves however nothing else untoward occurred and things felt normal apart from my bedroom being cold, one radiator was lukewarm. Externally, I felt very drawn to the East-facing Tudor front with the painted window and during the Saturday morning positioned myself at a fire door which I figured faced the Painted window on the other side of the house, mentally inviting something to happen (I should add I have not tried that before). I should also add that the tenant advised me nothing had occurred or been reported in the Clutterbuck Apartment before. Later several of us felt the vibe change. The main bathroom had a door leading to the corridor which one had to remember to unlock for our guests to access. The second night I found it hard to get off to sleep, my attention was fixed to a spot above the door (which lead to the corridor) in the corner at ceiling height where there was a damp patch and the wallpaper had lifted slightly. I was almost asleep when a loud rattling bang brought me bolt upright. I thought that I had forgotten to unlock the other door allowing access to the bathroom and that someone needed to use the loo so went into the bathroom to check. The door was locked, I assumed I left it locked and opened it to check if anyone wanted to use the bathroom. I tried the door but could not make it replicate the noise I had just heard. The corridor was empty and I heard nothing from the other bedrooms. On the way back to bed wind whistled through a window frame and made a second door move slightly but not enough to make the noise I had heard. Again it took me a long time to get back to sleep, I stared at the same spot near the ceiling for quite some time, I again heard a loud bang but that seemed to come from deeper into the 15th century part of the house. In the morning I checked to see if I had locked anyone out of the loo .. answer was no. However one of our party advised he was sitting in there after I had gone to bed and the floor around him started to creak as if someone was walking around him. He saw nothing. We checked in the morning and could not make any noise on that particular flooring, it was some sort of rubber covering.When we finally awoke my partner was extremely quiet .. and when asked why, advised that he had seen the face of a very old lady wearing something black on her head, I asked him was it high up, he nodded, I than asked if it was in a corner of the room, he nodded. I then pointed to the corner I had been fixated upon during the night , and that was where he had seen it. I was quite annoyed that I had seen nothing, just felt something. He had also heard many loud bangs during the night which he thought were car doors .. I very much doubt cars were being used in the middle of the night in such an isolated spot. Another member of our party was extremely disturbed sleeping in the green twin bedded room, at one point early in the morning of the same night he felt as though someone was on his bed, I had felt slightly uneasy when in that particular room but put it down to the less than pleasing shade of green paint on the walls. Several of our guests were extremely pleased to leave the apartment even though we had enjoyed ourselves immensely. I must say I felt no fear at any time but was greatly intrigued by this amazing house. I may have inadvertently worried the charming cleaning ladies who appeared to know nothing of the haunted reputation of the house, one of them had always felt uneasy in the green painted room and wouldn't service it without leaving the door open. Lastly, the first day we were there, the feeling I had from the apartment was 'happy' almost euphoric, the second day the atmosphere was very different. An extremely interesting weekend for me. Very stupidly it did not dawn on me to use a camera, if I go back I will make sure I have one to hand.

Willow said...

Hi Maj6

A fascinating experience by all accounts. I too have to concur with the cleaning staff, I was unaware that the room you stayed in was haunted.

Having spoken at length with the National Trust room guides, they were of the opinion that the staircase, the Tudor bedroom and the kitchen where at the forefront of most of the strange goings on in the past. The disturbances you describe are in common with those of the late and previous owner - Robert Parsons. His accounts of laying awake at night and listening to the cacophony of bangs, crashes, doors opening and closing and running footsteps, all in an empty house I may add, are well documented.

Your camera; well, I have got into the habit now of taking my camera everywhere I go…you never know

Willow

maj6 said...

Hi Willow

I forgot to mention that many of the door frames in the apartment have draught proofing strips applied which logically should have prevented the noises I heard. The 'cold' radiator in my bedroom became hot on the Sunday morning. I have to admit to being slightly miffed at not being able to access the main staircase areas and that is why I guess I tried to 'communicate' through the fire door. I hope that I have not 'started' something in the part of the house that was previously unaffected. I am also wondering who the 'old lady' might be, is it known if Mrs. Clutterbuck died in the house?

Willow said...

Hi maj6

I am not aware of the whereabouts of Mrs Clutterbuck eventual demise. I believe the Cluttersbucks' vacated Newark Park in the mid 1860’s, so it is unlikely that Mrs C is still there, but you never know.

maj6 said...

Hi Willow

If you hear of any further 'activities' in the Clutterbuck Apartment, please let me know. Many thanks

Willow said...

Hi maj6

It is unlikely that I will hear anything more, as currently, I have no plans to return to Newark Park in the near future.

Should I hear something on the 'spook grapevine', then rest assured I will update my blog.

Thanks for your interest.

lap23 said...

Have you any old photographs of the Clutterbuck family or even better the staff in the 1860s? My ggg grandmother was a servant in the 1861 census Margaret England aged 19

Willow said...

No, sorry 'lap23', I do not have any such photographs of the Clutterbucks'. I would suggest you contact Newark Park via the link below - good luck:

newarkpark@nationaltrust.org.uk

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I spent my first few years growing up in Newark Park until I was about 5 years old. What I do know is someone used to sit on my chair facing me and just smiling and this I can't explain. Mr Claydon did tell my mother of the stories of heavy footsteps and so on as you list on your website. However, once one was told of these stories its very hard not to hear things and I really feel one becomes more apparent because one's mind starts to believe these stories. Whistling for what seemed could be a dog, clanking of chains were all explained for by this cylindrical passage way and when the farmer on the farm next door would speak and walk etc, quite often it would hold the sound and I feel a lot of the noises were due to this...

kind regards,

Willow said...

Hi 'Anonymous'. How interesting you grew up at Newark. Your point about being briefed with regard to the stories surrounding Newark only confirms the power of suggestion and how it can kick start the imagination.

Margaret said...

Having read the 'anonymous' post I am mystified by the reference to a farm next door, I recall the house stood alone surrounded by nothing but gardens. I would add that none of our party were aware of the 'haunted' reputation of the house prior to arrival apart from myself.

Margaret (maj6)

Willow said...

Thanks for your comment 'Margaret (maj6)' You have me at a disadvantage there regards a farm house, don't remember one but then I was not looking for one.Perhaps 'anonymous' will reply to your query.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a farm as such and yes of course it stood on it's own, it was a stately hunting lodge. The buildings near by I mean and as a young child I used to think they were farmers. Our gardeners used to soend a lot of time maintaining the gardens and their noise as well as nearby noise did travel.

Willow said...

Ah ‘anonymous’ I think I see where you’re coming from. It was originally a hunting lodge built around 1550 then remodelled in the 1670’s by Sir Gabriel Lowe who effectively doubled the size of the house. Its current appearance is due to modernization in the 1790’s by the Rev. Lewis Clutterbuck.

Margaret said...

Hi

I am still at a loss to recall any buildings nearby the house, the house appears to be completely isolated and the only noises we could hear OUTSIDE the house were the cries of the peacocks ... there was a very small outbuilding in the garden, more of a shed I think so am puzzled by 'anonymous' description.

Stuart ACB said...

Hi Williow,

The Sunday before last my partner, my mother and I visited the park. We had never heard of if before that morning despite not living too far away so we jumped in the car to go and see it.

I was in the Tudor bedroom standing at the foot of the bed while my mum was looking down the Tudor drop-loo when I felt a jab between my shoulder blades. I swung round, but there was no one in the room besides myself and my mum.

I guess it could be easily explained away, but it was a distinct physical experience as I felt my shoulder blades pull together. This followed on from another physical experience while I was walking up the main stairs. I was wearing shorts and it felt like a small animal had brushed past me. My hand instinctively shot down to brush my leg - again there was nothing there. At the time I dismissed it out of hand as perhaps an insect, but when the poke in the back came a few minutes later the first incident took on a slightly different portent.

Willow said...

Hi Stuart.

Many have reported strange experiences in the Tudor Bedroom, so you're not alone.

I don't if you can still stay at Newark but in the past one room has been allocated for bookings. The room I refer to is just off the Tudor Bedroom, some might find that fortuitous, especially if they are looking for ghosts.

maj6@hotmail.co.uk said...

Hi Stuart, that was an extremely interesting experience - lucky you!

Anonymous said...

The farm buildings that the individual may be referring to could be something like the barn, the old sauna and the potting shed just off the gardens. None are accessible to the public, but sound of footfalls and voices does carry across to the house from these buildings, which are less than 100 yards away. I can say that the house is an absolute joy and certainly a hub for "activity" if you want to call it that. Nothing malicious or dangerous, mostly just books falling off shelves and people being seen from windows which are unoccupied etc.

Many thanks.

Room Guide at Newark