Mannington Hall

Mannington Hall was the setting for a ghost story well known in the nineteenth century. The antiquary Dr Augustus Jessopp, staying at the Hall on 10 October 1879, was working in a room off the library after everyone else had left or gone to bed when he saw a large white hand within a foot of his elbow. Turning his head he saw the figure of a large man sitting with his back to the fire and bending slightly over the table, examining the books which he, Dr Jessopp, had been reading:

The man’s face was turned away from me, but I saw his closely cut reddish-brown hair, his ear and shaved cheek, the eyebrow, the corner of the right eye, the side of the forehead, and the large high cheek-bone. He was dressed in what I can only describe as a kind of ecclesiastical habit of thick corded silk or some such material, close up to the throat, and a narrow rim or edging, of about an inch broad, of satin or velvet serving as a stand-up collar and fitting close to the chin …

When the doctor moved a book on the table, the man vanished, but reappeared five minutes later. Dr Jessopp continued working, and when he had finished closed his book and threw it down on the table. It made a slight noise as it fell, and the figure once more disappeared.

According to Enid Porter in The Folklore of East Anglia (1974), the steward of Mannington Hall had once revealed the ‘ghost’ to be none other than an Italian servant come in to remove the brandy. The episode was remembered in the family of Mr T. Purdy of Aylsham, who writes:

My grandfather R.J.W. Purdy was a friend of Lord Orford and used to shoot at Mannington, and his story, as handed down to me by my father T.W. Purdy … was that the ‘ghost’ … was in fact the Italian butler whose name … I believe was Carlo. Carlo always fancied a night cap of a glass of brandy before he retired, and the brandy decanter stood on the table in front of the Dr.: so when the latter was deep in thought and appeared to be asleep, Carlo slid quietly into the library but every time he reached for the decanter, the Dr. opened his eyes …

However, in Dr. Jessopp’s own account of the apparition, published in the Athenaeum for 10 January 1880, what he had been drinking was seltzer water.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008