GUESTS WOULD WAKE IN A COLD SWEAT

To­day may be Hal­lowe’en but for the own­ers of Bri­tain’s haunted man­sions, ev­ery day is shared with ghosts and ghouls. There are white ladies who take on such a life­like form that those who see them have no idea they’ve come across a ghost – un­til the lady

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CCARO­LINE LOWSLEY-WIL­LIAMS, 46, grew up at Chave­nage House, near Tet­bury, Glouces­ter­shire. She is an events or­gan­iser and lives in a cot­tage on the 1,500-acre es­tate. She says: HAVENAGE is mostly El­iz­a­bethan and was in­her­ited by my par­ents, David and Rona Lowsley-Wil­liams, from my un­cle John. My brother Ge­orge, sis­ter Joanna and I were brought up here.

Ge­orge is the old­est son and he used to sleep in the room my fa­ther now uses as a dress­ing room. He suf­fered from bad dreams and was of­ten found in the morn­ing with a pil­low over his head. He said it was the only way he could sleep.

It wasn’t un­til he was grown up, how­ever, that he told us he could sense some­thing un­pleas­ant in the room and felt safer com­pletely cov­ered by bedding.

That co­in­cided with re­ports from guests who’d slept there when my un­cle owned Chave­nage. They would say they’d had an aw­ful dream where a man was lean­ing over their bed. In ev­ery case, the de­scrip­tion they gave of their noc­tur­nal vis­i­tor was un­can­nily sim­i­lar: long, greasy black hair, a Mex­i­can mous­tache and heavy gold epaulettes on his shoul­ders.

In fact, this house did un­dergo an ex­or­cism at the re­quest of my great-grand­mother in the late For­ties. She did this room and the Tapestry Room, which was where Oliver Cromwell used to stay when he vis­ited Chave­nage soon af­ter the end of the Civil War.

Over the years guests would awake dur­ing the night in a cold sweat, ter­ri­fied but not know­ing why. They’d also say the birds in the tapestries seemed to come alive at night.

My great-grand­mother cov­ered all the op­tions by ask­ing in both Church of Eng­land and Ro­man Catholic priests, so we had both the bells and the smells, but the ex­or­cism didn’t work.

My job is to ar­range events at Chave­nage, such as wed­dings and film­ing. Lark Rise To Can­dle­ford was filmed here and the sex scene be­tween An­gel and Tess in the re­cent TV adap­ta­tion of Tess Of The D’Ur­bervilles took place in Cromwell’s room.

A few years ago, there was a tele­vi­sion drama go­ing on and the ac­tor sud­denly went white as a sheet, threw back the bed­clothes and said: “I’m sorry. I must get out and have a cup of cof­fee. I feel ter­ri­ble and can’t re­mem­ber any of my lines.” Then a friend of mine slept there and he found the doors were locked and he couldn’t get out in the night, then sud­denly they were open again.

Mind you, as kids, my sis­ter Joanna and I used to hide be­hind the bed and when our fa­ther showed guests around and told them sto­ries of the ghosts we’d bang away at the right mo­ment!

Per­son­ally, I’ve never seen a ghost and I put down the door slam­ming and sud­den blow­ing out of can­dles to the move­ment of this house – it has a very big foot­print as it is only two storeys high. But Ge­orge is now 49 and he and a friend still re­mem­ber when they camped in the gar­den aged seven and saw all th­ese horses and cav­alry. They were very scared.

www.chave­nage­house.com/ 01666 502329.

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