Ghostly going on
In a business the size of the Partnership there are bound to be stories about the supernatural.
Brownsea Castle has had its share of things that go bump in the night – and spirits that play tricks in daylight.
It was purportedly just such a cheeky ghost that terrified Brownsea Castle Head Chef Steve Lorch at 7am on a summer morning in 1976. Mr Lorch told local newspaper the Poole and Dorset Herald that ‘some supernatural agency began to agitate the sheets and blankets on his bed, and move his pillows from side to side, as he sat up listening to mysterious knockings in the ancient castle walls’. The terrified chef rushed out of the room and was given three days’ leave in which to recover by the then Brownsea Castle secretary, John Lukens.
Mr Lukens was sympathetic but not entirely convinced. ‘There are bound to be ghost stories, but all I know is that my wife and I have not seen anything. We hear all sorts of things that go bump in the night – probably the central heating or the water pipes – but if there is anything it certainly doesn’t seem menacing or nasty’.
A week before the incident affecting Mr Lorch, Porter Alan Foggin saw a reel of cotton from his bedroom fly through the air and roll past his feet as he made his way to the kitchen.
Odney apparitions have included a headless lady reportedly sighted in Lodene Greys, walking along a balcony with her head tucked under her arm. Then there were the two ghosts, of a woman in a long robe and a little girl, who appeared in 1969 in the area between Strande Park and Strande Water in nearby Cookham Rise.
These were seen by several people while Maidenhead Archaeological Society was excavating the area. Claims had already been made in the 19th century by William Grazebrooke, who built Strande Castle, that Strande Water was haunted by a woman in white.
Partners travelling through Cookham Dean to the Odney Club or to Winter Hill Golf Club might find themselves at a notorious spot.
The junction where Choke Lane joins Winter Hill Road was once considered the most dangerous part of the road from London to Bath after Hounslow Heath. Highwaymen lurked there in the 18th century, and over the years people have seen a ghostly horse and rider jump out at them as they leave the footpath from the common.
Staying with ghost riders, Cookham’s most famous spirit is Herne the Hunter, an antlered figure said by some to lead the Wild Hunt of spectral huntsmen. One legend describes these apparitions as the souls of unbaptised corpses, forever condemned to chase the phantom hart across the night sky, and in the 1970s a couple driving a car in the Whyteladyes Lane area saw the ghostly shape of a white stag leaping past their vehicle.