The ruins of Basing House are all that remains of a sixteenth-century mansion, built on the motte of a former Norman castle. During the Civil War it was the home of Charles Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, who defended it for three years against Cromwell’s troops, but was forced to surrender in 1645; the Roundheads then blew it up. When members of Hampshire’s Women’s Institutes in the 1930s pooled their information on local history and traditions to make their book It Happened in Hampshire, they included several stories about Basing House. It was said that Cromwell’s ghost walks in this neighbourhood, going from the big barn at Lyckpit to Plover’s Dell. ‘No doubt,’ said one informant, ‘his spirit felt uneasy at the sight of the ruins he had made.’ Another tradition was that before abandoning their home the Paulets melted down their gold plate into the form of a Golden Calf, which still lies hidden somewhere in the ruins. A ghost in Cavalier costume could sometimes be seen at nearby Hook, walking on the common; he may have been a casualty of this battle.
Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson –
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008