The history of Boringdon Hall stems from the Doomsday Book, where one of the earliest mentions of a permanent construction was recorded. The name “Boringdon” comes from the Saxon “Burth-Y-Don” meaning “enchanted place on the hill.”
It was around the year 956AD that King Edgar granted the Manor of Boringdon & Wembury to St Peter of Plympton, so naturally Boringdon Manor belonged to the priory until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by Henry VIII. Boringdon Manor became crown property and Henry VIII granted it to his courtier Thomas Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton who was a favourite of the King.
In 1549 Thomas Wriothesley sold the Manor to Henry Grey the Duke of Suffolk and father of the fated Lady Jane Grey, who became Queen of England for only nine days in 1553. In that same year Henry Grey sold Boringdon to Richard Mayhew of Tavistock. His grand-daughter married John Parker who inherited it in 1582 and it was he who remodelled the manor to the more tradition “E” shaped Elizabethan design, still incorporating much of the medieval house. It was then that Edmond Parker named the building Boringdon House. The picturesque village of Colebrook was built by Parker to house their estate workers and was part of the land owned by the family, which stretched to the old gateway at Plym Bridge.
Work on the Manor was completed in 1587 and it was in the year that John Parker gave a great banquet in honour of his old sea faring friend Sir Francis Drake, to celebrate the sea dogs well planned raid on the Spanish fleet in Cadiz Harbour. Many distinguished quests were present at the banquet Drake’s Uncle Sir Hawkins Richard Grenville, Sir Walter Raleigh and William Parker (brother of John Parker) who became Lord Mayor of Plymouth and was most distinguished of the Caribbean Pirateers.
During Queen Elizabeth’s progress through the West Country in 1588 she stayed at Boringdon, which was one of the foremost Manors in the West Country during these times.
All visitors to Boringdon Hall will immediately notice the great mantle above the fire place in the Great Hall depicting the coat of arms of King James I. It bears the date 1640 and is ornamented with the figures Peace and Plenty.
The Parkers were loyal to King Charles and in 1642 civil was broke out. It was during the civil was that Cromwell’s Round Head Forces destroyed the missing part of Boringdon Hall. The house was then confiscated and the large family fortune was lost.
When King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 the Parker’s were rewarded for their loyalty so house and fortune was returned to them. By the end of the century the wealth of the Parker family had increased considerably and in 1712 they purchased Saltram House, which they enlarged and remodelled to their own needs.
The family moved in 1750 and this was the early beginnings of Boringdon’s decline. Still owned by the Parker family as recently as 1920, it was used only as a humble farmhouse.
In modern times many owners have come and gone including the National Trust. At one time the whole property could have been purchased for little more that £5000. Boringdon Hall was converted to a hotel by a previous owner but was destroyed by fire in March 1989. A considerable amount of time and money has been invested in making Boringdon Hall one of the foremost hotels, banqueting and conference centres in the south west of England.
Most sightings of ghosts at Boringdon Hall are of Lady Jane Grey and Sir Francis Drake. Others have experienced strange men sitting on their bed or noises from the toilet, particularly in the 'haunted' rooms 15, 16 and 17.
People sleeping in rooms 15, 16 and 17 have experienced the feeling of someone sitting on the bed and unexplained noises. Strange lights and flashes have been seen by staff and residents, one visitor is said to have almost fainted in fear of what lay behind the door into room 15. Another guest sleeping in room 16 woke to see a dark shadow crossing the room, and even a ghost of a cat has been seen in room 15. Night porters have also heard loud footsteps and felt cold spots; sometimes the electricity will cut out for no apparent reason leaving them alone in the dark.
Date: Friday/Saturday 1st/2nd February 2008
Site Technical: Byron Jackson
Site Co-ordinator: Byron Jackson
Medium: Eileen King & Gavin Cromwell
First Aid: Lesley
Advance Team: Byron, Barrie, Andy
Martyn – Team Leader/Technical
Lesley – Team Leader/First Aid
Trace - Sensitive
Rachel - Sensitive
Edward - Sensitive
Laura – Team Leader
Barrie - Camera
Jo - Sensitive
Andy - Technical
Paul - Camera
Electro Magnetic Pulse:
The baseline test were carried out by Barrie & Andy
An introduction to the investigation was carried out by Byron along with a safety brief.
Byron welcomed all the team and the hotel guests. The members where then allocated in to teams and supplied with the evening’s schedule. A ritual protection was carried out by Eileen (Haunted Devon Medium) and then the transfer to darkness took place for the investigation to begin. (Lights Out)
The final part of the investigation involved a de-brief and a final protection exercise which was held to protect the team.
Boringdon Hall is a great location set in fantastic grounds with a beautifully built house. It has a long history with plenty of paranormal activity recorded, mainly by paranormal groups with leaning to towards proving evidence rather than disproving.
What was interesting about this investigation was the involvement of over 40 welsh tourists on a weekend break. Many had an interest in the paranormal, but there were plenty of sceptics involved which would provide an invaluable balanced view on the events over the 2 nights.
A large group of approximately 12 tourists were starting the investigation in room 16. They picked up on children running around the room by the window and tugging at their clothing at a child’s height. It has been documented before that children were picked up on previous visits by paranormal groups.
In room 15, two of the guests picked up on a cat that runs along the floor, which again was picked up before from previous investigations. This information is available on the net.
One of the most interesting pieces of evidence picked up on the night was provided by Eileen (Haunted Devon medium) Eileen had picked up on a soldier in room 17 that was posted at the house and she could hear a train running past the front of the house in the distance. The main line from Plymouth runs past the house in the very direction that Eileen described, but it is hidden from view with very few people (other than local residents) knowing of it’s location.
One group using glass divination contacted Oliver Cromwell (who had allegedly visited the house during the troubles) It has also since transpired that our Guest celebrity psychic Gavin Cromwell who visited on the Saturday was actually related to Oliver Cromwell.
What proved interesting were the views of 2 of the tourists that did not want to take part in the ritual protection that is provided by the Haunted Devon mediums at the start of the investigation. Their attitude was that if anything untoward happens to them then it will happen! After taking part in the glass divination exercise, they were amazed by the results and the information supplied. Approximately one hour later they could not find Eileen quick enough to carry out protection on them!
Thanks to Boringdon Hall for letting Haunted Devon investigate this fantastic location, Many thanks also to all the team members and hotel guests for their reports and observations of the night’s events.
Editor - Haunted Devon