Wollaton house, an Elizabethan country house in Nottinghamshire is a lavish structure lying on the Wollaton park hill. Although this house is now turned into a Museum, several creepy stories are associated with this Hall, making it a top spooky spot in Nottinghamshire. Wade through the creepy past and ghost investigation of the Wollaton hall.
Creepy Past of the haunted Wollaton Hall
Francis Willoughby was born in 1546 to Sir Henry Willoughby and Anne Grey. Sir Francis’ family (through very shrewd marriages) owned many estates in the mid countries, including Warwickshire, Dorset, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire. Being the principal suppliers of Coal, Iron and Glassworks, the family prospered. His was never to be a humble life and he strived to extend his holdings and fortune.
Through family connections he was related to many of those of court society. Through marriage he is related to the Dudleys, Greys and Seymours. Sir Francis was the youngest of three sons. Sometime prior to 1540 Francis’ father, Sir Henry, married Anne Grey, daughter of Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset. Soon after their first son Thomas was born. A daughter, Margaret was soon born to them, followed by Francis in 1546.
Anne Grey died shortly after Francis’ birth, presumably from puerperal fever. Shortly after Sir Henry died in 1547 during Kett’s Rebellion along side John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. Leaving the Willoughbye children to face the world alone and unsure of where their future lay. Thomas’ wardship was purchased by Sir Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset and Duke of Suffolk, the father of Jane Grey and their Uncle. Francis spent most of this youth serving the household of Sir Henry, also being trained in the courtly ways.
His sister was also being trained in the ways of the Court, to later take her place. The plans for the young family were cut short when Sir Henry Grey placed his daughter, Jane, on the throne, which lasted nine days. Once again, with an unknown future, Thomas’ wardship was sold to Lord Paget, while his sister, Margaret remained with Frances Brandon, her Aunt, as Lady in Waiting.
In 1559 when his brother Thomas died of heat exhaustion while hunting he assumed the role of head of his household. As he was only the age of thirteen his wardship was once again at fates mercy. Francis, being blessed and his fortune was made, when an old friend of the family, Sir Francis Knollys, purchased Francis’ wardship, and Francis’ studies were expanded to what a gentleman would need to know in order to conduct himself properly in the world he was about to enter as Knollys was to be in constant attendance on the Queen because of his position at court. This meant that Francis had a sudden loss of freedom, which did not settle well with his nature. Margaret was a firm favorite at Court and soon all of the Court gentlemen began to notice the beautiful Lady in Waiting.
A firm favourite was Sir Matthew Arundell, while knowing this was a wise match and assured her future, it was a true love match. Meanwhile, Francis, aged 18, was offered the chance to marry Elizabeth Knollys, sister to Lettyce. Always being an independent spirit and by this time in love, he refused, purchased his wardship back from Sir Francis and married Elizabeth Littleton of Frankley, the daughter of a close family friend John Littleton, a one-time Sheriff of Worcestershire and Governor of Deadly Castle. This appeared to cause no hard feeling between Francis and Knolly’s, as they remained friends. To show how much in love the couple were; the terms of marriage were quite simple. Littleton would pay a dowry of 1500 pounds, would purchase his daughters clothing, and provide a home and servants for the couple for three years.
In return, Francis would give Elizabeth one-third of his estates. While only a few friends supported the match, others did not. Margaret was against the marriage from the start feeling that John Littleton could not be trusted and was forcing a match on his friend to further his own interests. The couple were married in 1564. Off to a bad start, Sir John did not fulfill his part of the marriage contract, which caused a break with his dear friend, and hard feeling with his daughter Elizabeth.
As Francis was obsessed with wealth, power and status any loss was directed at his daughter, who was not of a stable personality. Fighting began in earnest and continued throughout the marriage. Life with Elizabeth was always turbulent, as those closest to her said that she had ungovernable passions. She insisted on having her own way in every situation and unafraid to voice her criticism of her husband. Though this was not to be a successful marriage, they must have had a few good times together as they produced 12 children, sadly only 5 of which survived and they were all daughters. Sir Francis was never able to produce his much-needed male heir.
Due to the lack of a male heir and the rift that was caused between the families of Willoughby and Littleton because of the failure of Sir John to hold up his part of the marriage contract, Elizabeth’s life became almost intolerable. Francis became more and more abusive toward his wife. She was restricted to her home, could only remain in her rooms and he did not provide for her or her servants. Her day was filled with needlework, reading, playing cards, music and talking with her attendants Elizabeth Mearing and Majory Garner.
In Sir Francis’ own words Elizabeth was forbidden to “ discharge or receive any servant” or “ strike or evil entreat any servant “. She had to submit herself to the orders of the two household Captains, she was not allowed to get any good from the household stores and could not purchase anything. Also she had “no authority to command anything in the house except necessary diet for herself”. She was not even allowed to take care of her own children, the nurse Joan was in charge of all of her motherly duties. She was kept a prisoner in her own home, which only served to cause a further rift between husband and wife.
She must have pleaded her case to her father, Sir John, because in 1579 Francis was persuaded to give Elizabeth a separate allowance for her upkeep. Not content with the circumstances of her life thus far, Elizabeth pleaded her case to the Queen, when finally in 1582, Francis was obliged to give her two hundred pounds a year “for Elizabeth’s separate maintenance”. Still not content, because of her status of being separated from her husband, she repeatedly pleaded with Francis to take her back.
Finally in 1588, after the completion of Wollaton Hall, Francis took her back. This was not due to love on his part or a tender heart, it was due to the fact that he needed her to furnish their new home and entertain to the level which his new life required. Finally Elizabeth had her freedom and the authority she desired. However, her erratic behavior began to lead to her health deteriorating further. She was allowed to visit her friends at Colwick, Belvoir and Newstead. She also spent time in London with her physician, John Banister, and frequently went to Buxton to take the baths, which Sir Francis could not find supportable to pay.
The life, which her husband had imposed on her, had finally taken its toll on Elizabeth. She died in 1594 after a fall at the home of the Countess of Shrewbury and after all the hardship and misery she had been through, her body and soul could not take the strain.
The daughter of Sir Francis and Elizabeth, Bridget, married Percival Willoughby, who it was thought that they would inherit the bulk of Sir Francis’s estate. Soon after the death of his first wife, Sir Francis married Dorothy Tamworth. He died in London on 16th November 1596. There were rumours that Sir Francis was poisoned. Some believe that his wife was involved. She was pregnant at the time of his death, which caused further strain between Dorothy and Bridget. If the child were a boy, it would threaten the inheritance, but a baby girl was born. Sadly the baby was not strong and soon died. The battle still raged between Dorothy and Bridget over the properties. Dorothy passed away without the matter being settled.
Owners of Wollaton Hall
|Pre 1580||Before the construction of the hall|
|1580-1596||Sir Francis Willoughby’s developments|
|1596-1687||Sir Francis’ death to Cassandra Willoughby’s arrival at Wollaton|
|1687-1800||Cassandra Willoughby’s developments and others|
|1800-1835||6th Lord Middleton and Wyatville|
|1835-1925||7th Lord Middleton to the sale to Nottingham Corporation|
FINDINGS OF THE INVESTIGATION
Below are brief bullet points of which the team members recorded and experienced in each area they visited:
The North Stairwell:
• A possible orb was found going around the corner and down the stairs
• Various taps and a loud bang from behind Paul standing in the doorway
• Possible orbs at various points
• A female form can be seen in the doorway, this is the area where Lady Middleton fell down the stairs
• Both Carol and Lucy had the feeling of falling when entering into this area; which could possibly be explained by suddenly coming out of a room into a large stairway
• The radio battery, which was freshly charged, went flat
• The flashlight batteries went flat in this area at the same time
• The sound of a moan could be heard and this was caught on the camcorder
• Tapping sounds could be heard in the next room
• Talking could be heard in this room also
• Temperatures dropped
The South Stairwell
• Lucy was pushed on her back, when she was sitting with her back near to the wall
• Carol felt a suicide connection, but within minutes it was picked up that it was murder, which was not only confirmed by Mark, but cleared up a mystery which has been rumoured for centuries
• Carol felt the hidden staircase, which had been panelled up for centuries
• Sharon had the feeling that she was carsick (which was the only way should could describe the feeling)
• Footsteps could be heard on the stairs, since some on the members of the team were sitting on the stairs, they would have seen them and this could was caught on the footage
• A whistle was heard, this sound appears on the footage
• A loud moan was heard by Carol, but no other members of the team heard it and it did not appear on the footage
• A second moan could be heard by Lucy, but no other members of the team could hear this
• Temperature appeared to drop to various members of the team
• The sounds of dress material and scratching could be heard behind the panelled door
• A bright flash of light can be seen behind Carol
• Sharon’s leg felt like a block of ice for only a few seconds
The Grooms Room (The Basement)
• This is the area where the murder took place; Carol could not enter this area due to the fact that the energy is high. She walked into the room to gather information and turned around and walked out. She received the information of the murder and the housemaid who was pregnant; who was left behind and kept in isolation, the child that was murdered, the owner who was involved in piracy and the servant who helped the owner and committed the murder.
• Richard at one point thought he heard on his microphone his name being called out, nothing occurred on tape and the camcorder footage recorded nothing, but his reaction is caught and he does appear shocked.
• Richard, Chris and Bryan went upstairs into the entomologists room but no one was there and as far as data is concerned nothing untoward happened in this area
• Lady Middleton’s presence was felt earlier in the evening and she felt that we should have come to her when we first arrived, paid our respects to asked her permission to enter into her home. It was confirmed by Mark that this was her salon and her portrait hung over the fireplace
• Photographs taken in this room shows a number of strange phenomena.
• Someone was seen inside the house when no one was left inside both in the Salon and at a window on the upper right-hand side of the building. Bryan and Paul ran to the building but no one could be seen to be inside
• Carol sensed a number of suicide in the lake; which was confirmed by Mark
Room 19 (second investigation)
• An amazing EVP was heard when Bryan stated that his fresh batteries were almost dead and a voice can be heard saying, “We are”. This is one of the clearest EVPs ever recorded by the Haunted Britain team
• The battery completely runs out after roughly 9 minutes
• A loud bang (which sounded like a board falling) could be heard from behind Chris (this was not captured on camcorder due to the batteries running out).
• Footsteps can be heard out in the hall a number of times and have been caught on the footage
• Temperature drops considerably
• Once again Carol sensed births, mourning and coffins laid out and Lady Middleton
• Someone struggling for air could be heard
• A Mother who gave birth to a still born child could be felt by Carol and the Mother was so weak that she could not be moved and the child was brought into lay in state next to her (at this point it must be noted that the camera begins to break down and then completely stops for no apparent reason)
• Three taps could be heard on one of the doors by a number of members of the team.
• Many people have felt that they were being pushed out of this room, no team member felt anything in this area
The Main Entrance
• A stone can be heard being thrown
• A male and female voice can be heard laughing
• A howl can be heard
Taking a look at the aforementioned phenomenon, it can be certainly said that the Wollaton hall is frequented by several malevolent spirits and mysterious phenomenon. If you are a horror aficionado, these are the most haunted places in England worth checking out.