The Cheltenham Ghost con’t….
This infamous ghost was officially investigated by the society for psychical research. Frederick Myers who was the honorary secretary of the society interviewed a number of first-hand witnesses and many more people had claimed to have seen this phantom over the years. The hauntings occurred between 1882 and 1886 just 20 years after the house was built on Pitville Circus. Many residents had a terrible time there and one of the first to live there was an unhappy man, Henry Swinhoe. A solicitor from Calcutta, he had taken to drink, apparently devastated by the death of his first wife
His second wife Imogen was mistreated as a result. Both succumbed to heavy drinking and after many years of alcohol-fuelled arguments, Henry died alone in the house. Sometime later a new family arrived, the Despards. Captain Despard and his wife never experienced anything particularly ghostly beyond inexplicable noises and footsteps in the hallway however their servants, children and guests all claimed to see The Cheltenham Ghost. Here’s 19-year-old daughter Rose’s, account of her first sighting;
“I had gone up to my room but was not yet in bed when I heard someone at the door and thinking it might be my mother, on opening the door I saw no one, but on going further along the passage I saw the figure of a tall lady dressed in black standing at the head of the stairs.
After a few moments she descended the stairs and I followed for a short distance feeling curious as to who it could be. I had only a small piece of candle and it suddenly burned itself out. Being unable to see clearly I went back to my room.
The figure was a tall lady dressed in what seemed to be black soft woollen material and when she moved her face was hidden by a handkerchief held in her right hand.
This is all I noticed then but on further occasions when I was able to observe her more closely I saw that her left hand was nearly hidden by her sleeve and a Widow’s cuff was visible on both wrists. The whole impression was that of a lady in widow’s weeds”.
She claimed to see the figure about a dozen times and on one occasion Rose approached the phantom and attempted to speak to it. Rose was convinced it was attempting to reply but all she heard was a sigh and the ghost disappeared into the darkness. On other occasions the family heard mysterious bangs bumps and the turning of door handles by invisible hands.
Many years after the Despards time, a full review of the case was published and investigations completed as recently as 2021. Garden Reach become a boarding school for boys in the 1900s but was forced to move because of the regular appearance of the ghost. Soon after the building was converted into Flats renamed. No further tales of ghostly activity have ever been reported since.
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