Claverton Farm: The Mysterious Ghost Lady Of Bishops Waltham
Claims of a ghost sighting identical in description was reported by three people between 1969 and 1971 at an old farmhouse in south Hampshire, a building of great age, standing on a site that has had human habitation for perhaps thousands of years. Here are the reports.
Claverton Farm, between Winchester and Bishops Waltham, stands on a site where there is a continuous record of a dwelling for over 800 years. Less than a hundred yards aware are traces of Roman settlements, perhaps from the first century of our era. It is not only its age that is remarkable, but also it's standing: as early as the thirteenth century when the majority of peasants were tied to the manor or the church by feudal bonds of service, the Claverton family were living on the farm as free tenants, paying to the Abbot of Tichfield a nominal rent of half a point of cumin seed a year.
This freedom was achieved usually by faithful or notable service to the feudal lord, and as well as being excused from the humiliating duties of serfdom, gained the tenant the title of Franklin. By the tutor period, their average holding was about 150 acres, making them a kind of rustic middle class with some of the material prosperity but none of the social standings, of the gentry.
Unfortunately, though the Claverton family farmed the land for over 350 years they produced very little in the way of a permanent record. An occasional glimpse of the succession glimmers through the dust of an old legal document, but it is generally information about the property rather than the people. By 1930, the farm had fallen low in its fortunes: the land was sour and unproductive; the woods were overgrown and neglected and the house itself had been split into two cottages for farm workers. During the war, the land was reclaimed and became very productive with the farm buildings occupied by prisoners of war.
But by 1945, the house was empty and derelict again. Standing half a mile from the nearest road and neighbour, without water, sanitation, or electricity it was left to moulder under creeping brambles, ivy, elder, and wild thyme.
It was at this time that the present owners discovered it and recognised the peace and beauty of the place, just as some invading Saxon had 1500 years earlier. As far as possible. without altering the basic structure and character of the house they restored it until it offered twentieth-century standards of comfort comparable to those enjoyed by the Clavertons at the height of their prosperity in the sixteenth century.
In 1969, soon after the alterations had been completed, the wife of the most recent owner was sleeping alone in the house. Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, she found herself wide awake. Opening her eyes, she became aware of a figure standing at the foot of the bed. The body was vague and appeared to be wearing a cloak with a hood, but the face stood out in natural colour with extraordinary clarity. It was of a youngish woman, who seemed to radiate an immense peace.
The lady of the house noted the hazel eyes, and the sweet, kindly expression. She and the apparition smiled at each other, and then without any trace of disquiet, she turned over and went straight back to sleep. She mentioned the incident to her husband when he returned but didn't refer to it again until the following year when an ex-naval Petty Officer called at the farm on business.
For some time he and the owner sat discussing prosaic mechanical matters. The host then moved to the corner of the room to refill their glasses and, when he returned to his chair was immediately asked, "Is this house haunted?" A little startled, the owner hesitated, and the sailor interjected with, "No - don't tell me: let me tell you. I have just seen a woman wearing a cloak and hood. She moved behind me and went out through that door."
Once again, there was absolutely no feeling of distress or alarm, only, the visitor said, an atmosphere of great tranquility.
The third appearance was more sinister. In 1971, two old friends of the owners, on leave from Hong Kong, were staying on the farm overnight. The wife was an exceptionally beautiful woman, and after an evening of reminiscing in front of the log fire, the guests retired to bed.
In the early hours of the morning, the wife awoke in great distress, crying out, "No! No! She is trying to get inside my body. She wants my body!" Her husband soothed her by saying that it had been a nightmare, and after a while, the wife became composed and went back to sleep. It was not until nearly two years later that the husband returned to the farm on his own: only then did he tell the owners of the terrifying nightmare his wife had experienced there, and, unaware of the previous incidents, said that his wife had told him the phantom in her dream who had desired to possess her body had been a beautiful woman in her early thirties - a description which seemed to tally uncannily with those of the two other witnesses.
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