The Ghosts of Sudbury Hall

by JoHarrington

Haunted Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, England, was the seat of the Vernon Family. Are some of them trapped there still?

17th century Sudbury Hall was built between 1660 and 1680, though more wings were added over the years. The grand house was the seat of the 1st Baron Vernon and his heirs until 1967, when it was gifted to the National Trust.

The Grade One Listed stately home once had an even more illustrious resident. The widowed Queen Adelaide retired there after the death of William IV. She technically left in 1842 when, as a tenant of William Ward, the Dowager Queen moved into her own home, Witley Court, in Worcestershire.

But some say that she came back to Sudbury, in December 1849, and she remains there still. She's just one of the ghosts said to haunt Derbyshire's Sudbury Hall.

Photographic Print of Sudbury Hall

Situated near Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, England, it is one of the finest restoration period stately homes in the country.
Photographic Prints of Sudbury Hall, Sudbury, Derbyshire, England, ...

A Royal Haunting at Sudbury Hall

Queen Adelaide has been identified as the ghostly lady in the green, velvet dress.

Queen Adelaide was certainly at Sudbury Hall during her lifetime. There are countless historical documents to prove it.

Records from the house recall how many servants accompanied her; and how suddenly more grand everything became. Everything from etiquette to the quality of the meals steps up a gear, when royalty is in residence.

Dowager Queen Adelaide arrived in 1840, three years after the death of her husband, William IV.

Her niece Queen Victoria was on the throne. In the movie, The Young Victoria, it's Adelaide we see privately giving advice to the teenager, before quietly retreating. London could not cope with two Queens!

So it was to Sudbury Hall that Adelaide went. It was here where she wrote her will, then quietly mourned her husband. She was gone again by the end of 1842 to take up residence in Worcestershire instead.

The only question hangs over whether she later came back to Sudbury.  Countless members of staff and visitors to the hall think that Adelaide might have done just that.

In the Queen's Room, several people have reported a feeling of being watched.

Occasionally people approaching the small dining room will catch a glimpse of green from the corner of their eyes. Others have seen more clearly the woman in the green, velvet dress. She walks into the room and disappears.

No reenactment staff even dress like that, let alone are on duty during the sightings. But it's obvious who she is. Too many portraits of Queen Adelaide exist not to match her visage with the ghostly apparition answering a long gone dining call.

Queen Adelaide on Wikipedia

Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and of Hanover as spouse of William IV of the United Kingdom. Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, is named after her.

Adelaide was born on 13 August 1792 at Meiningen, Thuringia, Germany. Her father was George I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen; and her mother was Luise Eleonore, daughter of Prince Christian of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. She was titled Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess in Saxony with the style Serene Highness from her birth until the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), when the entire House of Wettin was raised to the style of Highness.

Memoir of Queen Adelaide

The Woman in Black

The great staircase is the location for a distressing scene, which historians have been unable to place.

In contrast to Dowager Queen Adelaide, nobody knows the identity behind a far more frequent haunting at the house.

The grand staircase is beautiful to behold. Visitors to the property tend to spend a long time gazing up its height, taking in its sweeping elegance and the portraits lining its walls.

It's even appeared in movies. This was the staircase used in the classic BBC miniseries of Pride & Prejudice. Housekeeper Mrs Reynolds stood on it to show miniatures to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr and Mrs Gardiner.

Fortunately for them, the only people in shot that day were actors and actresses. Others looking up the great staircase have seen much, much more; and it's terrified them all.

A woman in black descends from the top floor. She appears to be in distress.  All of the color has drained from her face.  She reaches the bottom step and pauses. She's grief-stricken and doesn't know what to do.

Then she disappears. 

Who she is, or what has upset her quite so much, remains a mystery. The annals of history are silent.

A Quick Tour of Sudbury Hall

More Books about Sudbury Hall and its People

George Vernon built the hall; Frances 'Fanny' Lawrence was a New York heiress, who married the 7th Baron Vernon. Buy these books to learn about them.
George Vernon 1636-1702 'Who Built Th...To Marry an English LordSudbury Hall (National Trust Guidebooks)

The Long Gallery Ghost of Sudbury Hall

Who is the blue lady who walks up and down this room at night?

Since Elizabethan times, stately homes in Britain have included a long gallery. Sudbury Hall is no exception. 

Stretching the length of the house, lined with windows and artwork, this room would have been used for exercise. High born inhabitants would pace up and down, collecting their thoughts and contemplating the scenery.

One of them apparently still does.

There have been many sleepless nights for Sudbury Hall's National Trust Property Managers. The flat which comes with the job is situated directly beneath the Long Gallery.  During the night, when all is otherwise quiet, footsteps can be heard walking up and down, up and down, in the room above.

Sometimes it even triggers an alarm. Responsible for security, the manager has to leap from his or her bed and rush up the grand staircase to check for intruders. There is never anybody there. The Long Gallery remains empty.

However, a clue to the nocturnal walker may come in the blue lady seen by some visitors to the house.

When the Mayor of Derby visited, in an official capacity, his chauffeur remained with the car outside. Sudbury Hall staff, eager to extend their hospitality, kept nipping out to invite him to come inside. There were refreshments being served in the Long Gallery. 

The chauffeur said no, but everyone got the sense that it wasn't just professionalism keeping him out. He looked decidedly uncomfortable.

Eventually he was outright asked why; and then he shared a story dating sixteen years before. He had been just an ordinary visitor then, touring the house with his family.  They'd wandered into the Long Gallery and immediately spotted the lady in a long, blue gown, sitting on a chair at the far end.

The assumption, of course, was that she was a tour guide, dressed in period costume as part of a living history day.  But that was strange, because no-one else was doing that.

As the family neared her seat, she suddenly stood and, without a word, walked into the adjoining Talbot Room.  They followed her inside, then started with shock.  The book-lined room was completely devoid of a single soul, but themselves.

By now very rattled, the chauffeur and his family rushed out to find the nearest actual tour guide. They were reliably informed that no-one was dressed up that day; and no-one had been overseeing the Long Gallery.

Derbyshire Ghosts and Legends

Buy these books to delve further into the haunted heritage of Derbyshire.
Derbyshire Ghosts and Legends (Ghosts...More Ghost Walks in DerbyshireHaunted Places of Derbyshire (Haunted...

Strange Phenomena in the Boiler Room

Is one of the old boiler room servants still on hand to help with house maintenance?

A warren of broad rooms lie under Sudbury Hall. There is the vast kitchen, filled with daylight from windows up near the ceiling. There is the large billiard room. There are workshops too. And then there is the boiler room.

The boiler room appears to be a hive of supernatural activity, surpassing any other area in the whole estate. 

A previous National Trust curator was once following a guided tour into the area. As she did so, the torch in her hand started to flash on and off. She was not touching the switch!

The present administrator of the house is also employed by the National Trust. His job includes everything from keeping the books to ensuring the maintenance of the property.  He lives on site and claims never to have seen a single ghost.

But that doesn't mean that he's not encountered something weird in the boiler room.

One day, he needed to go down there, so went to walk through the cellar to get to it. The door would not budge. This was a little perturbing, as it was never locked and it was his job to make sure all worked well!

He tugged on it, wriggled the handle and peered into the keyhole. There was nothing to see, but the cellar door held fast. Eventually he gave up and fetched a crowbar to lever the lock, in case it had jammed. Even with that tool in hand, he could not force the door open.

Naturally calling a tea break at this point, he walked away to consider his options. It turned out that they were not needed.  As soon as he left the point, the door sprang open on its own.

On another occasion, an electrician was in the boiler room fixing a light fitting. He realized that he'd picked up the wrong screwdriver, so asked his assistant to pass the correct one to him. While the electrician held the fitting, the tool was placed into his hand.  He muttered his thanks.

But then was stunned a moment later, when said assistant hurried into the room to ask what he wanted. The boiler room had been otherwise empty, when the screwdriver had been passed up.

Yet More Ghost Stories from Derbyshire

Buy these chilling tales if you dare to venture into the spooky underside of this English county.
Haunted Pubs, Inns and Hotels of Derb...Haunted Derbyshire HbGhost Walks in Derbyshire and the Pea...

More Hauntings at Sudbury Hall

A child, a servant and a poor murdered woman. Will you encounter them at the house?

Tour guides tell of a fire, which once roared through a bedroom on the top floor. A young maid was trapped inside and she was burnt to death.

It should have been a tragic footnote of history, but for one small fact.  She is still trying to get out.

At the rear of Sudbury Hall is a wonderful landscaped expanse leading down to the river. Every so often, a visitor strolling between the topiary will glance back at the house. What they see sends them running back inside. 

A child peers back from a top floor window, apparently desperate to summon help. Of course, she's never there, when staff run to check.

Also on the subject of children, one of the National Trust's staff members was living in a self-contained flat within the house. She had recently had a baby, which was sleeping in its cot. She went into the room to check on her to find that someone was already doing the same thing.

A ghostly maidservant could be made out watching over the infant.

Finally, a psychic visiting Sudbury Hall encountered the ghost of a young woman named Mary, in the entrance to the kitchen. The spirit informed her that she'd been murdered there in 1715 and her body buried in the grounds. The house had since been extended over her grave, which now was right beneath their feet.

All that she wanted was the floor taken up and her bones exhumed, so that she could be given a Christian burial.

More Paranormal Stories

Are there Hungry Fields in Ireland waiting to trap unwary walkers? And if so, what ghosts lurk within? True Irish hauntings as recounted to me.
For nearly 1000 years people have lived in the Tower of London. Many were tortured and killed there. Things like that leave their mark.
An aggressive ghost attacked a family and visitors to a home in Atchinson, Kansas. No-one can live there now.
Since before Titanic sank, on April 15th 1912, there have been strange stories connected with it. Prepare for a voyage into the unknown.

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Updated: 10/11/2013, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 05/14/2012

TWELVE! :0 Wow!

She certainly does sound very cool. :D

Shonna on 05/14/2012

Someday, my friend :) You'd be well impressed with her. She's decided she's a roller derby goth into Daft Punk and vampires. Cool chick for sure. I know without a doubt she'd be over the moon to talk with you more about all of this! As for the still 4...she's still secretly 4 in my mind, too - it's just not possible that she's now 12!

JoHarrington on 05/14/2012

I'd be thrilled to take you! Well, mostly I'd be thrilled to have you here, but a trip out to a pretty Restoration house is a nice bonus too. :D

I shall have to write loads more true ghost story articles just for Elen then. Leave it with me! (And she's still 4 in my head. Don't tell her that bit...)

Shonna on 05/14/2012

Yet another place I'd love to visit should I cross the pond. I'll have to show this to Elen, who loves ghosts, ghost stories and all things dark and mysterious or so she tells me. She'll LOVE this!

JoHarrington on 05/14/2012

I thought it was stunning! I really liked the Museum of Childhood next door too.

EMK Events Ltd on 05/14/2012

I've been there. Nice place.

JoHarrington on 05/12/2012

I've been there and that floor is made of huge flagstones. It would take a lot to lift them. No-one's been under them to verify whether a body is there.

Archivists have looked at the house records and found that none of the Vernons disappeared in 1715. That, of course, doesn't account for servants and guests.

Lucas on 05/12/2012

There's probably better things to be asked, but since my curiosity is insisting on this, did she get a proper burial?

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