England is a fertile land for haunted houses and castles and Chambercombe Manor is no exception.
It is a house dating back to around 1100, now home to a museum, which for years has hidden a dark secret.
A sad finding
As I mentioned before, today the house is a museum that contains many pieces of furniture and antiques. Before, however, it was a house like any other. Almost. In 1738, in fact, during the restoration of the roof, the owner of the house had noticed something that was wrong: he saw the outline of a window that did not belong to any of the rooms of his house. When he inspected the house he realized that there was a space between two rooms that was not just a wall, but in ancient times it must had been a room. When he knocked down the wall, he found a bed that had been worn out by time and, lying on the bed, a skeleton.
At the time, the investigations only established that it was the skeleton of a woman, but nothing else. A legend, however, would explain this sad finding.
The legend of the Oatway family
In the 17th century Chambercombe Manor was inhabited by William Oatway and his wife. The house is located not far from the coast and after a stormy night the couple had gone to the seashore to see if any ship needed help. They heard complaints coming from some rocks and when they got close they saw the body of a young woman with her face tortured by the rocks. They took her home and tried to heal her, but she died during the night.
William saw among the young woman’s possessions a bag containing several jewels and gold coins. Opportunity makes the thief and William stole that little treasure to make his dream come true: to buy the house in which he lived.
The next morning, a shipping agent knocked on Chambercombe Manor’s door and asked the Oatway couple if they had any news of a woman who had disappeared during a shipwreck two nights earlier. William, scared because he had stolen the money of the woman, said he didn’t know anything. The agent thanked him and said to keep an eye out for the missing woman named Katherine Wallace.
William said goodbye to the agent, and when the door was closed, he and his wife burst into tears.
To discover the identity of Katherine Wallace and why her name has caused so much dismay in the Oatway couple, we need to take a step back.
William’s father, Alexander, lived in Chambercombe Manor and made his living by robbing ships who ventured too close to the coast, crashing onto the rocks. Often it was the man himself, with a powerful lantern, who signaled to the ships that they could approach, sending passengers and crew to a shipwreck.
He often brought his son William with him, but he didn’t want to follow his father’s “profession”. One day they found a Spanish woman injured on the beach, victim of a shipwreck, and decided, moved to pity, to take her home to heal her. The woman quickly recovered and fell in love with William. The two married and went to live in a house of their own, moving away from William’s father because they did not share his lifestyle. Several years later, after the death of William’s father, they moved to Chambercombe Manor. The house was beautiful, but unfortunately they rented the place, not being able to afford to buy it and this became a nuisance for William, who wanted to become the owner of a house to be able to leave it, one day, to his children.
And soon, in fact, came a little girl who grew up happy. One day the girl met a captain, fell in love and got married. The couple wentto live in Dublin. The child of the Oatway couple was called Katherine and her husband was called Wallace.
The Mystery of the Skeleton
The girl that the Oatways had robbed, therefore, was none other than their daughter who had come, after years, to visit her parents. William, devoured by guilt, put his daughter in a room and walled her up, taking this secret with him to his grave.
Until 1738, when the owners of Chambercombe Manor discovered Katherine’s secret room and skeleton.
The Ghosts of Chambercombe Manor
It is said that from the room where the young woman’s remains were found, one can hear complaints and sometimes hear steps along the corridor.
However, this would not be the only ghost that would haunt the house. Being a decidedly ancient building, there would be several ghosts still wandering through its rooms. One of them would be a little girl named Sofia, who says she is 7 years old.
If you also want to see the ghosts of Chambercombe Manor, the house is open to the public and you can visit it by booking on the official website.