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“There had stood a great house in the centre of the gardens, where now was left only that fragment of ruin. It was a place shunned by the people of the village, as it had been shunned by their fathers before them. There were many things said about it, and all were of evil. No one ever went near it, either by day or night. In the village it was a synonym of all that is unholy and dreadful.”
~ William Hope Hodgson, The House on the Borderland
III. The House of the Dead
The mansion stood proudly at the end of the new driveway 1, on the other side of the iron gates that the woman had come to know so well. A house once much loved, it had been abandoned and cursed, as a corpse buried in unholy ground 2. The wistful abode, derelict and desolate, is at present a decaying beauty of an era long past. A true work of art of the finest 19 th century craftsmen, no expenses were spared in its re-construction. This, however, would ultimately result in its downfall. All efforts were to be in vain for darkness and fear still continue to reign, side by side, within its walls. And its soul now lies hidden, behind boarded up windows, which prevent light and life from entering it. If any occupants still linger, they’re anything but human.
This Hall of Dreams has changed names and hands many times throughout its existence although it has never been truly owned; at least, not by mortal beings. In addition to the Redmonds of Norman origins and later, the fortunate Loftus family, it has housed two Catholic orders. The Benedictines (1917-1935), who renamed the Hall as the Convent of St. Mary’s and educated Novitiate nuns and the Sisters of Providence of the Rosminian Order (1937). The latter turned the abandoned Hall into a convent and school for young girls and set up a chapel for locals to attend weekly mass. However, like all mortal residents, their stay at the Hall would be a short one embedded with bitter memories of death.
Once again, the Hall would be abandoned until it was bought in 1983 by Michael Devereaux; it would re-open its doors as the Loftus Hall Hotel. However, Michael’s life was taken in this house. His wife, Kay or Kitty, continued to reside in the Hall until it told her to leave. And so she did, in great haste, leaving even clothes and personal belongings. Never to be seen again. It seemed the Hall may have spared her life. And empty, yet again, we continued to be held hostage.
Seemingly vacant upon first glance though evil and death were and always have been the only permanent residents. As eternities of darkness, they passionately devoured any life that came to exist within its walls.
Loftus Hall was also home to two notable families that shaped and contributed to the history of County Wexford, The historic home now harbours countless ghosts and trapped spirits, as well as a much older tenant. The woman had felt this darker, older energy the day I first saw her, when she felt me as we both stood by the present gates. She was not entirely sure of what it was, but she could not forget the feeling of dread and oppression that conquered her; the absolute darkness. She was convinced that it was an ancient force; previous to the existence of the current Hall, or for that matter, any of the buildings ever built on this star-crossed land. The woman was well aware that Loftus Hall, occupied a “most unusual site for a country mansion as the bleak and exposed landmark which dominates the landscape on the Hook peninsula”.
The current building is one of three family residences that were built within the area that came to be known as the Loftus Hall Demesne. The term “Demesne” evolved from “demayn” or “demeyn” in the 14th century, when it was borrowed from Anglo-French property law. At that time, the Anglo-French form was “demeine”. A “Demesne” can be described as the land surrounding a house or manor, retained by the owner for his or her own personal use; it contained buildings, gardens, farmland and woods. The deer park was the most distinctive feature of early demesnes, stocked mostly with fallow deer introduced in Ireland by the Anglo-Normans. It was also the site of the Holy Well of of Dubhán’ (also known as Duffin’s well). It was accessed by our beloved cliff walk, windswept and overlooking the rocks and eroding waves that pounded Hall Bay. The well was about “one-half mile north from Hook Church and quite close to the cliffs at the corner of the Deer park adjoining the Rathfield no. 13 on the Demesne Land Map9.” And of course, North from Loftus Hall, and on a straight track, was the circular burial mound or ring barrow I had feared as a child and which can still be seen today.
The residence of the noble Redmond family had only ended in the hands of Henry Loftus, through plunder and disloyalty and even more bloodshed. This unfortunate place that I had known so well had been a grand 17th century home. Its outbuildings, including the coach house and our walled garden, have outlived us all. The house was gable-ended with two storeys and nine bays. It was covered by a dormer roof and a steep pedimented gable. The two stone eagles that watched us then, were to be perched on new lookout posts of this place of torment. The residence had a forecourt with tall stone piers surmounted by ball finials which still remain and can be seen today. It also had a haunted tapestry room. Haunted indeed by our love; unable to die, it still resided within its cold and now lifeless walls.
Anne’s home then, was already centuries old and though beautiful as it was, I cannot say I had ever felt at ease in the Great Hall. Shadows, creaks and groans as well as whispers and growls have forever lived within its walls. Evil was part of its foundations and even then, the rambling mansion harboured many souls and secrets. This is something inevitable in a place as old as Loftus Hall. Old homes are enigmatical. It is a given that historic properties always come with countless invisible guests and much that remains hidden. They become alive through the people that reside in them. They breathe, love and dream much the same way mortals do. Awakening, with every heart beat and regretting every tear as they scream in silence. And if we listen carefully, we may be able to understand the meaning of such unexplainable noises. In time, walls deteriorate and their splendour fades. All that remains then is their skeletal structure and soul; the eternal memories of all those who lived and died within. And that is, in essence, what ghosts truly are. Shadows of what we once were, yet somehow refusing or unable to cease in existence. But some things are just not meant to last forever; it is unnatural. As unnatural and inhuman as what we’ve become. And along with such things are demons and monsters. This… is how dreams become nightmares…
By Helena B. Scott & Steve Meyler
All images are copyright of Steve Meyler and published with permission.
This article is a series of extracts from ‘ Loftus: The Hall of Dreams’ written by Helena B. Scott with photographs by Steve Meyler . Read more at: www.thehallofdreams.com
1 Having looked at the original maps of the Loftus Hall Demesne as they appeared in the 1771 Survey by Fritzell, we believe that the original entrance to the previous Hall was through a driveway from Portersgate. The previous gate would have been located where the walled gardens are as evidenced by the hinges which still remain to show where the gate would have been, now bricked up
2 Area possibly inhabited by druids believed to have been sacrificial grounds, but on which a Norman castle was later built in 1180. Norman constructions like churches were often built on pagan grounds and it is possible they may have been blessed in much the same way then, baptised in blood, following customs to avoid ill-fate.
Loftus: The Hall of Dreams - History
Loftus Hall Originally built as a castle in 1170, Loftus Hall is now a renovated mansion.
Ever since it was first built in 1350, Loftus Hall has remained an architectural marvel. Though this stunning Georgian mansion in Fethard-on-Sea, Ireland has long been revered for its beauty, it’s also inspired terror for its chilling tales of ghosts.
Legend holds that a mysterious man knocked on the door one night in 1775 and, though everything seemed normal at first, the family soon discovered that he was the devil himself. As the story goes, when the owner’s daughter saw his cloven hooves, she was traumatized for the rest of her life — and her spirit has wandered the halls ever since.
To this day, Loftus Hall’s most recent owners offer visitors haunted tours and spooky overnight stays. And though they put the 22-bedroom mansion on sale for $2.87 million in 2020, whoever owns Loftus Hall in the future must surely embrace its haunted legacy as well.
Loftus: The Hall of Dreams - History
A brief history of the Hook Peninsula
Hook Head (Rinn Duáin) is a headland in County Wexford, Ireland, located on the east side of the estuary of the three sisters rivers (the Nore, the Suir and the Barrow).
It is part of the Hook peninsula and is adjacent to the historic townland of Loftus Hall. It is situated on the R734, 50 km from Wexford town.
Hook Head is said to have found its way into common English usage in the saying “By Hook or by Crook.” A phrase derived from a vow made by Oliver Cromwell to take Waterford by Hook (on the Wexford side of the estuary) or by Crook (a village on the Waterford side of the estuary).
Loftus Hall is a large mansion house situated on the Hook peninsula.
It is Located on the right hand side as you drive towards Hook Lighthouse on the tip of the Hook Peninsula.
The first castle was built on the site in 1170 by the Norman Knight Raymond Les Gros, who changed his surname to Redmond to adapt an Irish identity.
The Redmond family built the Hall in 1350 during the time of the Black Death to replace the castle.
It then became known as Redmond Hall and stayed in the Redmond family until the 1650s when it was given to the Loftus Family who were English Planters, as part of the Cromwellian conquest.
Redmond Hall then became Loftus Hall.
It became the principal residence of the Loftus Family in 1666 when Henry Loftus, son of Nicholas Loftus took up residence in the Hall.
The building that exists today was heavily renovated between 1872 and 1879 by the 4th Marquess of Ely, John Wellington Graham Loftus in preparation for a visit from her majesty Queen Victoria. His mother Lady Jane Loftus, The Marchioness of Ely was Lady of The Bedchamber to Queen Victoria from 1851 to 1889.
The renovations to Loftus Hall were inspired by Osbourne House where lady Jane Loftus spent a lot of her time with Queen Victoria. Unfortunately the Queen’s visit never happened and the Loftus family were left with a massive debt following all of the works.
Following his death without issue in 1889 and his mothers death one year later, the Bankrupt estate was put up for sale.
In 1917 Loftus Hall was bought by the Benedictine order of nuns who resided at the Hall for 18 years. It was then taken over and run by The Sisters of providence as a school for girls interested in joining the order until the early 1980s.
In 1983 it was purchased by Michael Deveraux who reopened it as “Loftus Hall Hotel” which was subsequently closed again in the early 1990s.
It was privately owned by Deveraux’s surviving family until late 2011, when it was sold to its current owners, the Quigley family from Bannow.
The Quigley Family have undertaken a huge commitment as the Hall was in a derelict state when it was purchased. They have secured the structure and are taking massive strides to re-generate the walled gardens, The courtyard and the house to ensure the future of Loftus hall for years to come.
The Legend of Loftus Hall
Loftus Hall stands alone and austere on the bleak landscape, This Backdrop adds to its eery story.
It is for many years said to have been visited by the Devil, so many people from the surrounding area are nervous to enter the place after dark.
Legend has it that during a storm at sea, a dark stranger approached the Hall on horseback after his ship was driven into nearby slade Harbour with rough seas. He was invited in to seek shelter and spent some days with the Tottenham Family who were living at the Hall at the time. The young Lady Anne Tottenham was especially taken with this dark stranger and fell head over heels for him. One night during a card game, she dropped a card and upon bending down to retrieve it, she noticed that this dark stranger had cloven hoofs instead of feet. As soon as he realised what she had seen, he shot through the roof in a ball of flames.
Anne never recovered, she went into a state of shock and madness and her family locked her in the tapestry room for fear that anyone would see her.She died a couple of years later, still quite young, but her death was no release as servants and family members reported seeing her wandering through the house at night. The family had the local catholic priest Fr. Broaders exorcise the Hall but he could not exorcise the tapestry room.
This story has been told through the years and many have said there is something about Certain areas of the Hall, its atmosphere, the temperature and the general feeling of unease.
Since Loftus Hall was re-opened to the public in 2012 for house tours, people claim to have felt and seen things in the Hall that have left them wondering.
Loctushum, Locteshusum (xi cent.) Lofthusum (xii cent.) Lofthus (xii-xv cent.) Loftous, Loftos (xiii cent.) Lofthouse (xiii–xix cent.).
The parish contains the market town of Loftus, and to the south the isolated farms of High and Low Wapley, (fn. 1) with Gallihowe, Deepdale and Street Houses to the north. Its area is 3,744 acres, of which 137 acres are foreshore, 6 acres are covered by inland waters, (fn. 2) 885 acres are arable land, 1,741 acres permanent grass and 457 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 3)
The whole township is called Loftus, but, as in 1308–9, it is divided by a stream into North Loftus and South Loftus. (fn. 4)
Between 1615 and 1633 all the arable, meadow and pasture land in the common fields and 'ings' of North Loftus was partitioned among the farmers who had purchased the manor. (fn. 5) The land of the old inclosures in the south of the parish is said to be of superior quality here there is a considerable amount of ancient woodland, and in 1791 Thomas Richardson of Handale Abbey was rewarded by the Society of Arts for having planted 40 acres of land with mixed timber (fn. 6) which still flourishes. The subsoil is inferior oolite, lower, middle and upper lias, the soil strong clay. Hard white sandstone is obtained for building purposes (fn. 7) alum rock was mentioned in a letter to Sir Thomas Chaloner in 1603–7, (fn. 8) and alum works had been started shortly before 1657–8 when the mine was let on a lease by the lord of the manor, (fn. 9) who leased it to the Crown for £400 yearly in 1665 (fn. 10) and refused to abate the rent to £300 per annum, despite the threats of Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper. (fn. 11) The workings were temporarily suspended in 1673, and as a consequence the pier and staithes built for the workmen were then being destroyed by the sea. (fn. 12) Appurtenant to the manor of North Loftus in 1717 were the alum houses, mines and rocks, all other mines, wreckscarrs, pits, pans, cisterns, coal-garths, havens and staithes. (fn. 13) A decrease of 140 in the population in 1831 was ascribed to the depreciated state of the alum works and consequent emigration to America. (fn. 14) The population is said to have more than doubled in 1861–71 owing to the commencement of the iron industry. (fn. 15) The ironstone was at first sent to Middlesbrough for smelting, but the Skinningrove Iron Foundry is now established here. In 1874 the royalty of the North Loftus mines belonged to Mr. Anthony Lax Maynard of Skinningrove, that of the South Loftus Mines to the Earl of Zetland. (fn. 16) There are at Loftus timber-yards and saw-mills.
The Yorkshire coast-line recedes due west in this parish, forming the great Hummersea Cliff, which varies from 300 ft. to 625 ft. in height. At its highest point is Gallihowe. Middle Gill rises by High Wapley in the south at a height of 650 ft. and flows north by the site of the Cistercian priory of Handale or Grendale. (fn. 17) There are now no remains, but in 1808 the west end of the chapel was to be seen skeletons were found here in about 1830. (fn. 18) A cotton manufactory had been established on the site a few years before that date, but owing to the decreased demand during the European war the works were at a standstill, (fn. 19) and by 1846 they were demolished. (fn. 20)
After leaving the priory the stream flows north through Wapley, Handale and Loftus Woods, passing Holywell Farm and Cottage, and joining Liverton Mill Beck west of Loftus Mill. A tributary rises by Far and Near Foulsyke in the east of the parish, divides the village of Loftus into two parts and turns Loftus Mill (fn. 21) before uniting with the chief beck, which then, as Kilton Beck, descends in a small well-wooded valley to the sea between Loftus and Skinningrove.
Loftus, 1½ miles inland on the Whitby and Saltburn road, has a station on the Whitby and Saltburn line of the North Eastern railway. The urban district formed under the Local Government Act of 1894 (fn. 22) comprises the parishes of Loftus, Liverton and Skinningrove. A pretty town, in spite of its mining industry, it has grown up round its old High Street, in the centre of which are the Town Hall and church of St. Leonard. Trees everywhere abound. It was stated in 1808 that a weekly market had been started recently and was a convenience to the alum workers (fn. 23) the present market for pigs, meat and vegetables, held on Saturday, belongs to the Marquess of Zetland, who claims under an ancient charter it is rented by the Loftus Urban District Council. (fn. 24) A yearly wool fair is held in June.
A public elementary school has been built by the Marquess of Zetland, and a Roman Catholic school was opened in 1906. There is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the honour of SS. Joseph and Cuthbert there are also Congregational, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels.
The capital messuage at Loftus was given by Thomas Humet to Guisborough Priory in the 13th century, (fn. 25) and from the 17th (fn. 26) to the 19th century the lords of the manor lived here. Sir Robert Dundas, who greatly improved the town, built Loftus Hall. (fn. 27)
The rectory-house was built in 1844 and is in the Italian style.
A cist and skeleton were found in a tumulus on Wapley Moor (fn. 28) Cockpit Hill, for many years planted with trees, has been supposed to contain sepulchral remains. (fn. 29)
Rosecroft, now a farm, is mentioned in the 12th century, (fn. 30) and may have some connexion with the 11th-century place Roscheltorp. (fn. 31) Other old names in the parish are Boythorp, Brakynwath, Selandes, Midilheveth, Fulfredale, Warthouflates, Wartesecteflates, Crudescroft, Croseflat, Blakestayndale, Grundlous, Grenhals super Raclyfes, Westmyewra, Blaberimorgate, Hellerdaleheved, Swarthouflat, Turf pits, Langbrotes (fn. 32) (xiii cent.) Tibthorpe (fn. 33) (xvi cent.) Alamclose, Lathefield, Scawes, Castle Cliff, (fn. 34) and a close called Scotgate (fn. 35) (xvii cent.) Radcliffe Close, Marrs, Micklehow and Longtailles closes (fn. 36) (xviii cent.).
There were two vills of LOFTUS (fn. 37) in 1086, each composed of 4 carucates of land. Before the Conquest Siward Earl of Northumberland held 4 carucates here as a 'manor,' then worth £48, but in 1086 waste. To the manor belonged the soke of 'Roscheltorp,' Hinderwell, Boulby, (fn. 38) Easington, Liverton, Guisborough, Rockcliff, Upleatham, Marske, West Leatham, (fn. 39) Lazingby and Lackerby, (fn. 40) in all 46½ carucates at geld, and all, with the exception of Easington, laid waste. (fn. 41) Before 1074 all these lands had been granted to Hugh Earl of Chester, (fn. 42) and a fine was still paid from Loftus for ward at Chester Castle at the close of the 13th century, (fn. 43) although Earl Hugh's lands had long before passed to the Percys who were afterwards overlords. (fn. 44)
From the first Peter de Brus (fn. 45) a mesne lordship descended (fn. 46) to the Fauconbergs of Skelton (fn. 47) and from them to the subsequent lords of Skelton. (fn. 48)
An under-tenant Richard Barde was said in the 13th century to have been the first lord (of both North and South Loftus) after the Conquest. (fn. 49) With the consent of Roger his brother and heir he subenfeoffed Guisborough Priory of the services of Robert de Butterwick for 3 carucates of land here, (fn. 50) but died leaving a son and heir Geoffrey, (fn. 51) perhaps the Geoffrey to whom Loftus belonged in 1179–80. (fn. 52) Geoffrey was succeeded by his kinsman and heir (fn. 53) William de Sauchay, (fn. 54) who in 1201 farmed Loftus to William de Stutevill (fn. 55) and crossed the seas. Taking part with the king's enemies, he lost his English lands, and in 1205 the mesne lord Peter de Brus paid a fine for having seisin of Loftus. (fn. 56) The Brus lords retained the manor and part of the vill in their own hands (fn. 57) until the third Peter de Brus apparently subenfeoffed his uncle Simon de Brus, to whom he at all events granted lands, the mill, and suit of the mill. (fn. 58) Afterwards Peter, who died in 1272, (fn. 59) left these tenements to Guisborough Priory to find a chaplain to pray for his soul and those of his ancestors and heirs. (fn. 60) The manor and mill subsequently belonged to Guisborough Priory until the dissolution of that house. (fn. 61)
The mill was appurtenant to the manor in the time of William de Sauchay, (fn. 62) but both before and after was in the hands of under-tenants. It is said to have been held in the time of Henry II with 3 carucates of land here by one Tybaud who left daughters and co-heirs Emma and Maud. (fn. 63) In 1230–1 Roger de Butterwick, descendant of Emma, and Roger son of Peter, (fn. 64) descendant of Maud, disputed as to these tenements. (fn. 65) Then came an Alexander de Butterwick who left daughters and heirs, Maud, married to Peter son of Humphrey de Lazingby, and Cecily married to Thomas de St. Martin, who granted in fee to Peter de Lazingby 6s. 5d. rent from the mill. (fn. 66) In 1278 Peter son of Humphrey granted the capital messuage, close and mill beside the capital messuage to Guisborough Priory, (fn. 67) and Cecily and her son William quitclaimed all her right. (fn. 68) The pound of John son of Robert de Lazingby at South Loftus is mentioned in 1305. (fn. 69) According to a pleading of 1465 'the manor of South Loftus' was granted in 1327 by William de Embleton (Elmedon) to Richard de Thornton and Denise his wife and their issue, with remainder failing such issue to William son of Roger Terry in tail-male with contingent reversion to the heirs of William. (fn. 70) On the failure of heirs to the Thorntons and Terrys the manor was claimed by Thomas de Embleton as great-grandson of the grantor. (fn. 71) No further history of this holding has been found.
The Humets perhaps held under these families. The first Peter de Brus is said to have granted part of the vill to 'the ancestors of William Humet and other tenants,' (fn. 72) who held 4 carucates here in 1272. (fn. 73) Before this, however, Thomas son of Eudo de Humet had granted to Guisborough Priory the chief dwellinghouse and mill beside the garden with its suit and pool. (fn. 74) The Humets still held tenements in South Loftus in 1428. (fn. 75)
The Crown seems to have retained the manor after the surrender of the priory until 1602 when the mill, the close called Tibthorpe, various messuages and 32 oxgangs of land, lately belonging to Guisborough Priory, were granted to Richard Burrell of London and William Allen. (fn. 76) These tenements were afterwards known as the manor of NORTH LOFTUS, (fn. 77) South Loftus becoming attached to Handale. Richard Burrell sold the manor in 1615 to William Duck, (fn. 78) one of three trustees appointed for the purpose by the farmers of North Loftus, to whom the trustees conveyed each his own land in severalty, Philip Wheath, clerk, acquiring the manor. (fn. 79) Philip died about 1633 and his son Philip (fn. 80) in 1651 conveyed the manor to Zachary Steward, (fn. 81) D.D., brother and heir of John Steward of this place, (fn. 82) in fee. (fn. 83) Zachary by 1655–6 had been succeeded by his son Zachary (fn. 84) (living 1666), whose daughter and heir Mary (fn. 85) must have married Thomas Moore, for in 1694 and 1695 Thomas Moore, Mary his wife and Zachary Steward Moore made settlements of the manor with a warranty against the heirs of Mary. (fn. 86) The manor, as the possession of Zachary Steward Moore, brother of Thomas Moore of Angram Grange, (fn. 87) was registered among 'Papists'' estates in 1717. (fn. 88) A gamekeeper was appointed for the 'manor of North and South Loftus' in 1738 by Zachary Harmage Moore (fn. 89) 'of squandering memory.' (fn. 90) He sold Loftus to Sir Robert Dundas, (fn. 91) ancestor of the present owner the Marquess of Zetland. (fn. 92)
Beckwith of Handale. Argent a cheveron gules fretty or between three hinds' heads razed gules and a chief gules with a saltire engrailed between two roses and as many demi fleurs de lis all or.
The priory of Cistercian nuns at HANDALE (alias Grendale, xii-xiv cent. Grindale, xvi-xviii cent. Handle, xviii cent.) is said to have been founded in 1133 (fn. 93) by William son of Richard de Percy of Dunsley, (fn. 94) younger son of the Domesday tenant in chief. At the Dissolution the site and appurtenances were valued at 40s. (fn. 95) The manor was leased in 1540 to Ralph Beckwith, goldsmith, of York, (fn. 96) and the reversion of the site and the mill beside the nunnery were sold by the Crown in 1543 to Ambrose Beckwith, (fn. 97) whose family established themselves here. Ambrose died seised of 'the manor or capital messuage' in or before 1575 leaving a son and heir Leonard, (fn. 98) who died in 1624, and was succeeded by Newark son of his brother Roger. (fn. 99) Newark died in 1656. His son and heir Leonard (fn. 100) made a settlement of the manor and mill as the manor of 'South Loftus' early in 1660–1. (fn. 101) Leonard's sons Roger and William (fn. 102) died childless, but Roger son of his son Newark was living at Handale Abbey in 1741, (fn. 103) and appointed a gamekeeper for his 'manors' of Handale Abbey and Wapley in 1748. (fn. 104) Roger, who apparently died childless (fn. 105) in 1758, (fn. 106) sold it to a Mr. Sanderson of Staithes his daughter and heir married Thomas Richardson, from whom the priory was purchased by Thomas Stephenson, owner in 1808. (fn. 107) The manor was conveyed by John Buckton and Ann his wife in 1819 to Thomas Jackson, (fn. 108) and in 1846 was the property of John Bell. (fn. 109) It has since followed the descent of Thirsk (q.v.).
The vill of WAPLEY (Walplo, Walepol, Wapelhou, Walplwe, xiii cent. Walplowe, xiii–xvi cent. Wapley, Whaplowe, xvi cent. Wayplay, xvii cent. Waupley, Woapley, xvii cent.) passed with Loftus from William de Sauchay to the first Peter de Brus, who gave it to the nuns of Handale. (fn. 110) After the Dissolution in March 1544–5 the manor was granted to the Archbishop of York (fn. 111) and has since descended with the manor of Marske (fn. 112) (q.v.).
The church of ST. LEONARD was rebuilt in 1811, the former building being described by Graves about 1808 as a 'mean and humble edifice' in a neglected condition. (fn. 113) Ord in 1846 describes the church as a 'plain but capacious edifice, built chiefly by Bonomi, on whose architectural genius it confers no great lustre.' (fn. 114) With the exception of the west tower, which remains as erected in 1811, the church was almost wholly rebuilt again in 1901, some portions only of the old west and south walls remaining, and now consists of a chancel 33 ft. 6 in. by 24 ft., north vestry and organ chamber, nave 60 ft. by 24 ft., north aisle 10 ft. wide, and west tower 9 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. There is no structural division between the chancel and nave, both being under one continuous red-tiled eaved roof. The new building is in the Gothic style with a large pointed window of five lights and perpendicular tracery at the east end, and an arcade of four pointed arches to the aisle. There is a clearstory on the north side and the aisle has a flat-pitched leaded roof. The building is of no architectural interest. The tower finishes with an embattled parapet and has a clock dial on the north and west sides towards the town.
The font and fittings are all modern, and the organ dates from 1902. There are two bells, one dated 1811, and the other a modern recasting of an old bell with the inscription in Gothic letters 'Ave Maria gratia.'
The plate consists of a silver cup without marks and quite plain in design, and a paten with four marks very much worn (the date letter is possibly that for 1713), inscribed 'The Gift of the Rev d . H. S. Hildyard M.A. Rector of the Parish, Lofthouse, A.D. 1859.' There is also a pewter flagon and plate. (fn. 115)
The registers begin in 1697.
There was a church without a priest (fn. 116) in 1086. (fn. 117) William de Sauchay gave the church to Guisborough Priory, (fn. 118) and since the Dissolution the advowson has been retained by the Crown. (fn. 119) The living is a rectory.
In 1735 Thomas Woodill by his will devised land in Ugthorpe, containing 5 acres or thereabouts, for the poor of this parish and Ugthorpe. The sum of £2, being a moiety of the rent, is distributed, together with a rent-charge of 12s. paid in respect of Ralph Robinson's charity, among the poor, in sums of 2s. to each recipient. In 1864 Thomas Earl of Zetland gave £1,666 13s. 4d. consols, the dividends to be applied for the day and Sunday schools.
The Wesleyan chapel and burial ground were conveyed by deeds of 1814 and 1841, and a school building was acquired by deed in 1836.
The chapel known as the Ebenezer Chapel, comprised in deeds of 7 June and 19 October 1828, was by an order of the Charity Commissioners of 23 July 1907 authorized to be sold, and the proceeds applied towards defraying the cost of the Congregational chapel now erected upon a site in West Road, which has been conveyed upon trusts approved by the Charity Commissioners.
Haunted houses and mysterious gate lodges: Ireland&rsquos hidden history
The term “historical revisionism” or “secret history” is perhaps the most suitable category to describe a lavishly produced book about an historic mansion tucked away on the tip of the Hook peninsula in southwest Wexford. Loftus, The Hall of Dreams (Maison Noir Press, €125) by Helena B Scott adopts a new perspective and beguiling approach to the history of the house, said to be one of the most haunted in Ireland and known for its psychic disturbances.
Based on a Gothic story supported by historical facts, Scott’s text marries appealingly with Steve Meyler’s striking photographs of Loftus, its demesne and surroundings to create a substantial landscape-style book printed on silk paper. A mysterious and alluring landscape, the peninsula has attracted invaders from monks to Vikings and from Normans to Knights Templar. Previously known as Redmond Hall, its name was changed to Loftus Hall in 1666 following the Cromwellian conquest. Down the years it has masqueraded under many guises and in the 20th century became a convent and later hotel.
Through the use of tarot cards, each representing a specific subject, the author attempts to solve a mystery from the past – a paranormal experience which disturbed her in the hall and which she likens to a crime scene investigation. Containing a wealth of detail, this is not a crime novel nor a traditional textbook, and although some sections read like fiction, no parts are made up. The intriguing story, which embraces ley lines, geomancy and freemasonry, has many surprises and makes history come alive in a distinctive way. The book is best perused during the long winter nights curled up by the fireside when the reader should expect the unexpected.
A completely different approach to the built heritage is taken by Kimmitt Dean, who for 50 years has been gathering information about Ireland’s gate lodges. His third volume in the series, The Gate Lodges of Munster: a gazetteer, (Wordwell, €30) represents an exhaustive study of the history and architecture of 2,775 of these quirky buildings divided by county. The gate lodge was the prelude to the big house, a symbol of the power, status and wealth of the owner to impress passersby and neighbours.
Half of the lodges have been demolished, deserted or boarded up, sad reminders of halcyon days but a considerable number of fanciful and ostentatious styles survive. Many are characterful, such as Fota at Carrigtohill in Cork which is lovingly maintained, as well as the exquisite lodge at Muckross in Killarney. The decoratively thatched roof of Deenagh Lodge, also in Killarney, is now frequented by tourists in its new role as a tearoom. One of the most extravagant is Dromana at Villierstown in Co Waterford where the gate lodge, built in the Hindu-Gothic style, is better known than the mansion and comes with copper onion domes modelled on the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
Dip into this book and you will go on dipping. Written in a brisk staccato style, it features the expressive lingua franca of architecture. You will learn about decorative fascias and entablatured breakfronts, carved bargeboards, ornamental quatrefoil toes, mouth-organ fanlights and a raft of plinths, friezes and cornices. The author has been on his perambulations again and the final volume of his life-long immersion into this huge enterprise will feature Connacht in 2019.
One of Ireland’s best-known castles at Kilkenny, occupying a commanding position over the river Nore, has been home to the powerful Butler family for more than six centuries and is a place where history lies deep. The Chief Butlers of Ireland and the House of Ormond (Irish Academic Press, €50) edited by John Kirwan, is an illustrated genealogical guide with a comprehensive record of the lineage of the Chief Butlers, dukes, marquesses and earls of Ormond and their families.
An illuminating 40-page essay by archaeologist Ben Murtagh outlines the complex history, architecture and archaeology of the castle with details on alterations, renovations and remodelling. Since 1969, it has been in State care and is now a major visitor attraction.
Antiquities of Rural Ireland (Wordwell, €25) by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, Liam Downey and Dara Downey, sheds light on Ireland’s agricultural and rural past focusing on monuments sometimes overlooked. Divided into seven sections, the book ranges from farming and food-processing, settlement and historical routes, to turf-harvesting, salt-making and kelp-production.
Coastal features explored take in a selection of “old reliables” including Martello towers, coastguard stations, lighthouses and promontory forts. The final section looks at ritual and ceremony covering rock art, wedge tombs, ogham stones, holy wells and the absorbing story of cillíní, children’s burial grounds which occur in a diverse range of landscape settings. Illustrated throughout with maps, aerial photographs, colour images and sketches, this is an instructive handbook to help identify fixtures in the landscape.
Paul Clements is a contributor to the newly published Fodor’s Essential Ireland, 2019. His email address is: [email protected]
An index of selected articles available exclusively to our readers with an Irish Times digital subscription
NOTE: Loftus Parish in the 19th century and up to World War II comprised the township of Loftus plus the hamlets of Waupley and Streethouses.
When you set about getting to know Loftus, the first thing to get straight is its name. The Parish registers date from 1697 but the name on their covers read LOFTHOUSE – the spelling as the names of two other Yorkshire villages – both in the west of the county. Loftus in Cleveland kept that early spelling until c1890 so that it is written as Lofthouse on all census returns currently available to researchers. So if an ancestor of yours is recorded as being born at Lofthouse, Yorkshire, it may NOT mean your having to seek out parish registers covering Lofthouse in Nidderdale, or Lofthouse near Leeds – what you want could well be Lofthouse in Cleveland and therefore at Teesside Archives.
Loftus was a pre-conquest settlement, held by Siward, Earl of Northumberland. By the time the Domesday Book was compiled, however, the land around it had suffered a great deal from King William I's efforts to subdue his rebellious northern subjects. Much of it was recorded as 'lying waste'. The Percy family held the land for several generations, and Guisborough Priory owned more than 700 acres of it in the late 13th century.
The Parish Church of St Leonard (rebuilt 1811 and again in 1901), is believed to have dated from the 13th century, although it was almost certainly built on the site of an earlier Saxon Church, as a record of its clergy dates back to 1294.
Two miles to the south of Loftus lies the site of Handale Abbey – home of a religious community founded in 1133, though the ruins of it had all but disappeared at the beginning of the 19th century. From the dim and distant past of this area, a legend has survived (being more durable than bricks and mortar!). Most people will have heard of Wearside's 'Lambton Worm'. Loftus too, was plagued by a fearsome serpent which ate cattle (and fair maidens, of course) until one, Scaw, put an end to it with his trusty sword.
It's a pity that no local musician set the tale to music, as they did at Lambton, then perhaps the name of Loftus in Cleveland would be more widely known. (“Oxford Dictionary of Place Names” mentions Lofthouse in Nidderdale, Lofthouse near Leeds, but its compilers seem to have been unaware that we have a Lofthouse/Loftus in Cleveland).
Such reference books may overlook Loftus in our own times, but it was an important place in 18th and 19th century Cleveland. Unlike Skelton, Brotton and Marske, which were mainly agricultural communities until ironmaking started. Loftus had an 18th century industry – Alum mining. At the beginning of the 19th century, it ranked as a 'Market Town'. Alum miners mostly lived at Streethouses, coming into 'the township for the Thursday market.
Loftus has another distinction that dates back to 1801. Family historians are sometimes heard to lament the fact that England's earliest censuses – 1801, 1811, 1821 1831 include only numbers: no names. All we know about most East Cleveland parishes in 1801 is the number of households, and the number of men and women each contained. Loftus, however can boast something very like a complete census that was taken in 1801.
At that time, it was feared that French troops might attempt to invade the North East coast. Parish Constables in the danger area were required to supply certain information about farm stock, stores of bay and corn, numbers of inhabitants willing to help with defence arrangements, and number who would help if an area had to be evacuated.
Some parish Constables filled in the required returns with mere numbers others listed names of those willing to help. But William Dobson, Parish Constable of Lofthouse, did the job with commendable thoroughness. He wrote down the name of every householder, men as well as women, giving occupations, number of people in each household and the capacity in which each able bodied male was prepared to serve, should the need arise.
For example, we know that one, Joseph Toas, had three people in his household who would need help if evacuation became necessary that he earned his living as a labourer and that he was prepared to undertake the driving of farm stock to a place of safety. William Dobson actually went one better than the census takers later in the century. He recorded Thomas Atkinson, Sailor, absent at sea, and Kenneth McClean, away in prision. No need for researchers to scour the returns for 'strays' in this mini-census.
(You'll find it all in Appendix 3 of “Escape the Monster's Clutches” compiled by M Y Ashcroft. There's a copy in Teesside Archives and the Society also holds a copy) (Library is now at Teesside Archives. Ed)
One name is missing from William Dobson's list. Zachery Moore had been Lord of the Manor at Loftus until a few years before this time, but he was such a reckless spender that he had to sell out to the Dundas family who owned most of Loftus in the 19th century. John Walker Ord in “History of Cleveland” (1846) pays tribute to Sir Robert Dundas who died in 1844 having done a great deal to improve farming standards in the area and improving the quality of life for his tenants. He also built Loftus Hall.
In the 1850's, Loftus seems to have declined somewhat in importance. Whellan's “Topography of the North Riding” (1859) ranks it as a 'village' because its market had ceased to be held, except for the sale of meat. Oddly enough, it was 1857 that Loftus achieved another distinction – it was the first parish in what is now Langbaurgh Borough (Now Redcar & Cleveland – Ed) to open a cemetery. The first grave to be dug there received what the sea had left of a poor chap called William Raine who drowned when the 'Amelia' was wrecked off Staithes. He was washed ashore eight months later.
Then in 1865, Loftus iron mine was opened and the 'village' expanded like a balloon. It acquired a railway link with the rest of the area, and a Town Hall (1879) became the administrative centre for the new Urban District created in 1894. It even had a local newspaper of its own. “The Lofthouse Advertiser” commencing in 1876. Published by Joseph Cooke, who also ran a printer's business, it lasted into the 20th century.
Mining came to an end at Loftus in 1958 and Loftus U.D.C. was aborted by Langbaurgh Borough Council in 1974. (Teesside in 1968, Cleveland then Redcar & Cleveland – Ed.) Loftus has gone back to its village status now but it is a village that has every right to be proud of its history.
Parish registers for Loftus 1697 – 1909 are all at Cleveland County Archives, but some later ones have not yet been deposited. There are also some 18th and 19th century 'terriers' and an apprentice record 1809 – 1827 which could yield useful names. There are also non-conformist records for the area – Loftus and Staithes Methodist Circuit 1853-1966.
Census returns for the parish can be studied both at the archives and Redcar Reference Library. The F.H.S./ 1851 index volume 7 gives all Loftus inhabitants in that year. In its local Collection, Redcar Library has several booklets that will extend your knowledge. “The History of the Church of St. Leonard” by J.R.V Carter (1975) is one “A brief History of Loftus” by former Loftus Librarian Michael Oliver, published in 1984 is another. There are a couple of articles about Loftus Sword Dance team founded 1890, and if you fancy a look at copies of “The Loftus Advertiser” keeping the town ahead with the news between1879-1916, you will find issues for those years on microfilm at Redcar Library.
Lastly Loftus, like Marske, has a museum. Their old iron mine had been turned into “The Tom Leonard Mining Museum” open from April to October, photographs, mining tools and equipment can be seen there. Altogether, there's plenty to help you get to know Lofthouse / Loftus.
by the Late Mary Williams (Originally included in Journal of April 1992)
This version taken from CFH Journal October 2005.
Having many ancestors from Brotton and Loftus I have a keen interest in the area, I have transcribed the 1834 Pigots Directory for Skelton which covers Loftus, Brotton and Staithes in the main.
Transcript follows, I hope it is some use to you
Nivard Ovington in Cornwall (UK)
G.g.g.grandson of Ralph OVINGTON born 1775 Loftus, parents William and Mary living at the Warren and g.g.grandson of Thomas OVINGTON b.1818 and Jane Isabella WEBSTER b.1820 both of Loftus.
From Pigot & Co, National Commercial Directory of Yorkshire 1834
SKELTON, KIRK-LEATHAM, LOFTHOUSE, STAITHES AND NEIGHBOURHOODS.
SKELTON is a village and township, in the parish of its name, in the eastern division of the wapentake of Langbaurgh, North Riding, three miles and a half N. E. from Guisborough. It was formerly celebrated for its castle, which was erected by Robert de Brus, a Norman Baron, who came over with the Conqueror. There are now but few remains of the ancient building existing,
the whole having been modernised in 1794. It was once the seat of John Hall Stephenson, Esq. known in the literary world as the author of "Crazy Tales," it is now the residence of John Wharton, esq. The church, which is dedicated to All Saints, was rebuilt in 1775. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Archbishop of York : the present incumbent is the Rev. William Close. The parish contained, in 1831, 1,241 inhabitant, and the township 781 of that number.
KIRK-LEATHAM is a village and township, in the parish of its name, in the same division and liberty as Skipton, about four miles and a half N.N.W. from Guisborough situate near the mouth of the Tees, and is chiefly celebrated for its hospital, founded and endowed by Sir William Turner, for the maintenance of forty poor persons, viz. ten men and ten. women, and an
equal number of boys and girls. There are a chaplain, a master, a mistress, a surgeon, and a nurse, who have salaries and apartments in the hospital the annual income of which amounts lo about £1,600.An elegant chapel adorns the centre of the building, and over the altar is a
splendid painting on glass. By means of a bequest made by Sir William Turner, a building for a free grammar school was erected in 1709, by the
nephew of the donor. There are, however, no scholars at present on the foundation,the premises being occupied by poor families rent-free. The church is a handsome structure, dedicated to St. Cuthbert the living is a discharged vicarage, in the gift of Henry Vansittart, esq. The parish contained, at the
last census, 1,074 inhabitants, and the township 663 of that number.
LOFTHOUSE is a village, in the parish of its name, (having no dependent township), in the same division, and liberty as Skelton, pleasantly situate about five miles E.N.E. from that town and 9 from Guisborough. The vicinity abounds with stone and alum rocks, the latter being worked to a considerable extent by Sir Robert Dundas, under the able management of Mr. William Hunton, and afford constant employment to nearly one hundred persons, thereby contributing largely towards the support of the village. The church is dedicated to St. Leonard the living is a rectory, in the gift of the crown, and incumbency of the Rev. Sir William Mursay, bart. Here are two Sunday schools, zealously superintended by the Rev. James Bruce, minister of the chapel for independents here. A customary market is held on Thursday, but it is by no means considerable. The parish contained, in 1821, 1,178 inhabitants,and, in 1831, 1,038.
STAITHES is a hamlet, in the parish of Hinderwell, in the same division and liberty as Skipton, 12 miles N.E. from Guisborough, and 11 N. W, from Whitby, situate on the coast of the North Sea, immediately under Cow-bar Nab, Fish curing is the principal occupation of the inhabitants, who are said to vie with Yarmouth in their method of preserving the herring. About
one mile hence are the extensive Boulby Alum Works, belonging to Messrs. Baker and Jackson, superintended by Mr. George Westgarth : these works employ many of the industrious poor. Population returned with the parish, which contained, in 1831, 1,881 inhabitants, 1,698 of whom were returned for the township of HINDERWELL, and 183 for that of ROXBY.
POST, SKELTON.-Letters arrive from and are despatched to GUISBOROUGH, daily,
Many Thanks to Nivard Ovington for transcribing the above and allowing us to use it on the site.
NOBILITY, GENTRY, AND CLERGY.
Bruce Rev. James, Lofthouse
Close Rev. William, Skelton
Dundas Right Hon.,Lord, Marsk
Dundas the Hon. Thomas, M.P. Up-Leatham
Harrison Rev. Joseph, Marsk
Hixon Mr. John Ellerby (attorney) Skelton
Hutchinson Mr. Thomas, Brotton
Lacy Jonathan, esq. Up-Leatham
Shaw Rev. Edward, Kirk-Leatham
Smith Rev. William, Hinderwell
Todd Colonel -, Lofthouse
Vansittart Henry,esq. Kirk-Leatham
Wharton John, esq. Skelton castle
Wilkinson Rev. Jos. Up-Leatham
ACADEMIES & SCHOOLS.
Adamson Catherine (brdng) Skelton
Adamson James, Skelton
Bailey Elizabeth, Kirk-Leatham
Binks Edmond, Kirk-Leatham
Cook Jane, Brotton
Creason William, Marsk
Metcalf Dorothy, Lofthouse
Mills Smith, Brotton
Rogers John, Marsk
Rogers Mary, Marsk
Sharp John, Skelton
Ward John, Lofthouse
Watson George, Lofthouse
Hunton Wm, manager, Lofthouse
Westgarth Geo. manager, Boulby
Bonnett John, Staithes
Dowson Thomas, Staithes
Hasewell John, Lofthouse
Scott William, Staithes
Taylor Elizabeth, Staithes
Bradley Thomas, Yearby
Carter Thomas, Skelton
Bryon Luke, Up-Leatham
Bryon Newrick, Marsk
Kilburn William, Skelton
Parvin John, Marsk
Robinson Isaac, Lofthouse
Robinson Robert, Skelton
Sanders John, Staithes
Savers Anthony, Lofthouse
Smallwood William, Staithes
Walker William, Lofthouse
Young William, Skelton
BOOT & SHOE MAKERS.
Adamson Leonard, Staithes
Bell Robert, Skelton
Brown Mark, Staithes
Brown William, Lofthouse
Bunting Thomas, Skelton
Hatherton John, Skelton
Hebron John, Lofthouse
Jackson William, Staithes
Johnson John, Skelton
Johnson Thomas, Yearby
Lewis John, Skelton
Low Thomas, Skelton
Pindar Jonathan (& clog) Staithes
Seamer John, Staithes
Simpson George, Brotton
Spinks James, Staithes
Thompson Thomas, Brotton
Wilkinson William, Up-Leatham
Wilson Thomas, Marsk
Gibson William, Staithes
Mann Christopher, Staithes
Mann William, Lofthouse
Parks Thomas, Staithes
Stevenson John, Marsk
Ventriss William, Up-Leatham
Walker Thomas, Lofthouse
Walker Thomas, Staithes
Wilkinson William, Skelton
Williamson William & Son, Skelton
GROCERS & DRAPERS.
(See also Shopkeepers, &c.)
Adamson Robert, Lofthouse
Brown William, Lofthouse
Dixon William (& druggist) Skelton
Hutton Richard, Staithes
Longstaff George, Lofthouse
Macnaughten Duncan, Skelton
Macnaughten George, Lofthouse
Moore Ann & Son, Staithes
Moore Thomas, Lofthouse
Patten William, Lofthouse
Shemelds Thomas & Son, Skelton
Lavrick George, Staithes
Skelton Thomas, Hinderwell
Smallwood William, Hinderwell
Trettles Matthew, Staithes
JOINERS, CABINET MAKERS AND CARTWRIGHTS
Burton William, Staithes Carrick Mark, Skelton Chapman John,
Hinderwell Stonehouse Roger,
Lofthouse MILLERS. Bell James,
Lofthouse Moon Isaac & George,
Staithes Wilson John, Lofthouse
Breckon Elizabeth, Staithes
Gowland William, Skelton Robson Thomas, Brotton
SHOPKEEPERS & DEALRS IN GROCERIES & SUNDRIES.
Beadnall Thomas, Lofthouse
Coates Richard (and bacon dealer) Staithes
Robinson Benjamin, Skelton
Trettles Thomas (aud fish dealer) Staithes
Wilkinson Elizabeth, Skelton
Wilson Christopher, Skelton
Sanders Thomas, Up- Leatham
Bailey Charles, Kirk-Leatham
Shemelds Thomas & Son, Skelton
Brown Mark, Staithes Miscellaneous.
Bradley Robert, bricklayer, Yearby
Brown Addison, ship owner, &c. Staithes
Brown Ths.ship owner & master.Staithes
Dawson Thomas, linen, weaver, Skelton
Gibson William, retailer of beer. Staithes
Laverick Thomas, saddler, Staithes
Overend Thomas, slater, Lofthouse
Toase Thos. brazier & tinman, Lofthouse
Wilson Christr. retailer of beer, Skelton
George Hogarth, from .Marsk, every Tues. and Sat.-and Ths. Johnson, from Staithes,Wed.& Fri.
To STOCKTON, Jonathan Wilkinson, from Lofthouse,every Tues.-and Robt. Robinson, from Skelton, Wed. and Sat. To WHITBY, William Mann & Jonathan Wilkinson, from Lofthouse, every Fri- day, and Thomas Johnson, Thursdays.
Loftus: The Hall of Dreams - History
The Loftus hall which stands today on a baron edge of the Hook peninsula in County Wexford was built over the remains of Redmond Hall in 1870. Redmond Hall had been the residence of the Redmond family since around 1350.
On the 20 July 1642, during the Irish Confederate Wars, Redmond Hall was attacked by English Soldiers. The Soldiers took a ship from Duncannon Fort with around ninety men and two small canons. Alexander Redmond, who at the time was sixty eight years old, barricaded the Hall and prepared to defend it. At his side were his two sons Robert and Michael, some of their tenants, two men at arms and a tailor who happened to be working in The Hall at the time, a total of ten men. The English discovered that their small canons made little impression on the front door of The Hall, and to add to their troubles around half the English soldiers abandoned their captain to pillage the countryside. During the fight a heavy sea mist descended on the Hook Peninsula and the English forces were unaware that an Irish Confederate force in the area, coming to the aid of the Redmonds, had marched up behind them. Around thirty English soldiers escaped to their boat, many were killed including the English captain, with the remainder taken as prisoners. The next day several of the English prisoners felt the hangman’s noose tighten around their necks. On the 20th August a further eleven of the prisoners were hanged at New Ross.
Alexander Redmond was attacked several more times, but received favourable terms from Cromwell. When he died around 1651, his family, however, were evicted.
Where ‘the devil played cards’: Ireland’s ‘most haunted house’ on the market for €2.65m
T he mansion on the Hook Peninsula in Fethard-on-Sea, Co Wexford, was bought by local brothers Aidan and Shane Quigley in 2011 and subsequently opened to the public for the first time in 20 years in 2012.
Its foreboding presence and reputation as the most haunted house in Ireland has led to it becoming a tourist attraction and film location. The 2018 Gothic horror movie The Lodgers was filmed there in 2016.
According to legend, the devil himself is among those said to have visited Loftus Hall, arriving one stormy night in 1775 and befriending the young Anne Loftus.
Invited to play cards with Anne and the rest of the Loftus family, the devil’s identity was uncovered when his cloven foot was seen beneath his clothes.
He is said to have disappeared through the roof of the building, and a large hole remains today.
Although the building underwent an exorcism some years later, the legend persists.
Loftus Hall has established itself as a popular attraction, with tours operating throughout the year and peaking at Halloween.
It is being sold by Keane Auctioneers whose “ghostwriter” describes it as possessing “some of the most beautiful architectural design that can be found in any property of its kind” and “absolutely oozing with potential for possibly a boutique spa, country guest-house or many other commercial applications”.
Aside from its ghostly reputation, its other claim to fame is the ornate staircase in the main hall which was just one of three with the same design in the world. The other was the grand staircase on the Titanic, while there’s a similar one at the Vatican.
“This could be the retreat of dreams, for the house offers unrivalled views all over the Hook Peninsula, St George’s Channel and Dunmore East,” the auctioneers said. It is situated on 63 acres overlooking the sea in what the auctioneer describes as a “one-off, unique setting”.
“It is steeped in history, originally built by the Norman knight Raymond Les Gros (later known as Redmond) and portrays some of the most beautiful architectural design that can be found in any property of its kind.
“From the magnificent entrance/driveway, which leads to the front door, its truly captivating gardens, stone buildings, excellent car-parking, private beach and top quality multi-purpose lands – the house sits on overlooking all of these and takes in unrivalled views.”
Described as having the “potential to make one of the most stately homes in the country” it has 22 bedrooms on three floors, 14 bathrooms, reception and function areas.
“While in need of some extensive refurbishment, it maintains some of its “unique feature including the remarkable hand-carved staircase, magnificent fireplaces, unique architectural features (all with their own legendary stories and tales), to name but a few. “
The Legend of Loftus Hall
'THE Legend of Loftus Hall' dates from 1766, when the house was occupied by the Tottenham family.
L ord Tottenham had married Anne Loftus some years earlier and the couple had two daughters - one called Elizabeth, and other also called Anne - but his wife became ill and died while those girls were still very young, and Tottenham took another wife to assist in the bringing up of his daughters.
At the time, many ships landed on the shores of the peninsula and it was customary for their occupants to take shelter from storms at the great Hall. It was during one such storm, after Tottenham's daugthers had grown into young women, that a ship pulled up unexpectedly at nearby Slade Harbour, and a stranger made his way to Loftus Hall, where he too was taken in. This time though, the storm continued for days and even weeks, and so the stranger continued to reside at the big house.
Lady Anne Tottenham found herself becoming close to the visitor during all this time, and they would spend many hours sitting and talking to each other in The Tapestry Room, before spending the nights playing cards with other members of the family and occasional visitors.
During one of these games, Lady Anne dropped a card, and leaned down to pick it up. She saw a cloven hoof, and began to scream. The stranger had been exposed as The Devil - he immediately disappeared through the roof in a ball of fire, leaving the family shocked in The Card Room, and Lady Anne in a trauma from which she would never recover.
It is said that the family grew embarrassed by her state, and locked her away in the same Tapestry Room where she had spent so much time with the stranger. There she remained until her death in 1775 - and it is from there that her ghost is reputed to have haunted the house and surrounds ever since.
Meanwhile, poltergeist-like activity was blamed on the spirit of the devil for the many years that followed. While an exorcism was carried out many years later by the local Fr Thomas Broaders, it is said it wasn't 100 per cent effective. and that the house is still haunted to this very day.
Next owner of Loftus Hall
Aidan says he doesn't think there's any doubt that the next owner of the house will have a strong interest in the paranormal and in the house's history.
He said: "It's not something you're going to buy and accidentally discover, because it is world-renowned."
According to Aidan, Loftus Hall has a "funny way of picking its own owners".
He observed: "I think the next chapter of Loftus Hall will be an exciting one.
"I would love that the public will always have access to Loftus Hall - I wouldn't like to see it being returned to a private residence."
Aidan, for his part, says he has no regrets about the purchase of the house - saying it has been a very rewarding nine years.