by Willow from Haunted Wiltshire Blog

Set in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside, this 15th century Manor house has remained largely unchanged, other than a few alterations to its interior which were made during the 16th and 17th centuries. The last owner of Westwood was Mr Edward Graham Lister, who was responsible for much of the 20th century restoration. Lister died in 1953, from a motoring accident. He left the contents and endowment to the National Trust. Today the house is occupied by a tenant who administers it on behalf of the Trust

It was a warm sunny afternoon the day we visited Westwood. What immediately struck us, as we stepped through the grey stone entrance into the grand hall was that ‘lived-in’ feel, an expression used all to frequently for lesser properties but, in this case, well deserved. Low Jacobean ceilings with lime plaster motifs, grand Tudor fireplaces, oak panelled walls, Gothic oriel windows and not forgetting the handsome topiary garden, all added to that feeling of being welcomed.

Westwood Manor
Image used by kind permission of Haunted Wiltshire Blog

Heavy deep panelled oak doors lead off to all the rooms and one in particular, one which I had a vested interest in, was the Corner Bedroom. It is said that if you manage to get a good nights sleep in this room you have done exceedingly well. For it is this room that is reputedly haunted by the ghost of a woman whose identity is uncertain. Many guests who have slept in the Corner Bedroom have had eerie experiences and restless nights. Previous owner Mr Edward Graham Lister, was in no doubt that the ‘Corner Bedroom is most definitely haunted‘. Many times he claimed to have seen the ghostly form of a woman or heard unexplained footsteps emanating from that room. Guests and visitors alike have reported having had unpleasant feelings when staying in, or just being in, the Corner Bedroom. It is interesting to note, that the elaborate tapestries which hang from bed, come from the infamous haunted bedroom at Littlecote Manor near Hungerford, which was, in 1575 the scene of a most heinous crime perpetrated by ‘Wild’ Will Darrell’ where, in a fit of rage he threw his newborn son onto an open fire pinning him there beneath his booted foot. A decidedly unpleasant chap by all accounts. The Bedroom is said to be haunted by the mother of his child. This could be a case for a residual transference haunting.

Corner Bedroom – Westwood Manor
Image used by kind permission of Haunted Wiltshire Blog

I spent some time alone in the Corner Bedroom, just sitting there listening to a faintly discernable breeze as it sang in the eaves. I remember the ornate stone fireplace and imagined what it would be like when a fire had been lit, I could almost hear the spit and pop from the knots in the firewood. I think this would be a cosy room to spend the night in, but then I’ve not been disturbed by strange women in the dead of night, well not recently. I recall a distinct stillness about the Corner Bedroom; there was no movement to the air. There were few visitors that day so I pretty much had the place to myself hence the quiet I suppose. I am reluctant to say the room had a certain feeling about it but my partner did later remark when she had joined me later, that she felt she could ‘happily lose herself in here, such too its tranquillity.’ 

A former tenant by the name of Mr Denys Sutton, claimed there was another ghost at Westwood, a distinctly unpleasent fellow that took the shape of a fearsome headless spectre that would wonder the house silently at night and frighten the trousers off the unwary. 

One of the guides recalled a story told her by the gardener, a gentleman who has been in service at the Manor for many years. He described having just entered the Music Room, where he smelt and then noticed pipe tobacco rising and curling above a high-backed chair. The chair was facing away from him, so he could not see who was sitting there. He called out but there was no reply. He approached the chair but when he was but a few feet away the smoke suddenly evaporate, but what was more of a surprise was the chair was unoccupied. 

It is no secret that Westwood Manor is said to have been cursed. The story goes, the Manor was once the home of a magistrate who caught and sentenced a gypsy for poaching. Hearing of her husbands arrest, his enraged wife marched up to the magistrate and vociferously cursed the house and family. Shortly after, the magistrate and his family started to have misfortune, so much so that they sold Westwood and left. The curse of Westwood Manor seems to have endured, for there have been reports of mysterious fires, violent deaths, one occupant supposedly hanging himself, whilst another drowned and yet another threw himself from a second floor window.

The Manor has had many famous visitors over the centuries. One, in particular, was Queen Mary, she adored Westwood. She would often take a liking to a particular item of objet d‘art, so much so that the household would have to discreetly hide objects that they thought might interest her on subsequent visits. This measure was taken just to ensure they would not be obliged to make yet another gift of her adorations for certain objects she picked up during her visit. She was greatly loved and received by all at Westwood Manor and her pen, the one she used to write letters whilst staying at the Manor, is now in a glass box beneath her photograph in the grand hall. More on Westwood Manor, click here

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