1962


39
YEARS

CLAYDON HOUSE

“I first visited incomparable Claydon

in 1962...”

“...at the invitation

Sir Harry Verney...”

“...whose family had owned land at Claydon

since the fifteenth century.”

Claydon is located in Buckinghamshire.

“Delightful Claydon House, built in 1768…”

“...and standing in its own open parkland…”

“...has several ghosts…”

“…including Sir Edmund Verney…”

Anthony van Dyck; Portrait of Sir Edmund Verney [1596 - 1642] (circa 1640)

“…who walks here

looking for his hand

which was buried in the family vault.”

Verney was an English politician and soldier.

He was a favourite of King Charles I.

Verney was killed as

“the King’s Standard Bearer

at the battle of Edgehill in 1642…”

Detail from The Eve of the Battle of Edge Hill (1845) by Charles Landseer

A standard-bearer is someone who bears a standard (i.e. a flag) which is used as a visual symbol of a state, prince, military unit, etc.

Oliver Cromwell played a leading role in bringing Charles I to trial and to execution.

His rise in English politics led to him to take control of Parliament following the English Civil War.

(Cromwell leads an attack against the Royalists.)

“When Cromwell’s men captured Sir Edmund

...they demanded that he give up the colours…”

“...but he refused, saying:

‘My life is my own,

but my Standard is the King’s...’

“…so he was killed…”

“But when the Roundheads came

to take the Standard from his hand…”

Supporters of Cromwell were known as 'Roundheads'.

“...they could not unlock his death grip…”

“…and they cut off his hand

with its signet ring...”

(The signet ring contained a miniature portrait of Charles I.)

John Pettie (1839-1893); Portrait of a ‘Roundhead’

“Later in the battle the Standard

was recaptured by the King…”

“...Sir Edmund’s hand still grasping it…”

“…his hand was sent home

and was interred in the family vault at Claydon.”

“When the family vault was opened some years [ago]

...there was no coffin for Sir Edmund…”

“...only a casket large enough

to take a hand...”

“The ring was removed

and is now in the possession

of the present baronet, Sir Harry Verney…”

Sir Harry Calvert Williams Verney, 4th Bt
© National Portrait Gallery

“...who showed it to me

when I was there in 1962…”

“Sir Harry had…taken the trouble

to obtain a written account of an apparition…”

“...seen by his sister on the red staircase…”

The ‘Red Stairs’ at Claydon House, where the ghost of Sir Edmund Verney is reputed to have been seen.

‘…it must have been about 1892, when I was thirteen,

that I ran up the Red Stairs at Claydon House…’

‘…and…I noticed…a man…

He was tall…and wore a long

black cloak, beneath the hem of which…’

‘...peeped the tip of his sword…’

‘…he carried a black hat

with a white feather...

That was all I saw...’

“It cannot but be interesting to observe that,

according to Sir Harry Verney…”

“...the same figure was seen in the same place

nearly a century earlier…”

“Sir Harry told me of John Webb,

the…carpenter who assisted 

with the demolition...”

“...of the enormous ballroom

that was pulled down some years before...”

“He had been working among the rubble

when he chanced to look up…”

“...and saw a strangely dressed man

standing nearby

looking sadly at the devastation...”

“When the carpenter

called out to the man…

…the figure disappeared…”

“Sir Harry Verney keeps an open mind

on the question of ghosts…

and although he hasn’t encountered the wraith of Sir Edmund wandering about…”

“…looking

for his

lost hand…”

“…I am sure he would treat his ancestor

courteously and sympathetically

should he ever do so…”

Gazetteer of British Ghosts
'Middle Claydon, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire'

This Haunted Isle
'Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire'