and mysterious: Parking the car, near the village church, we wandered
around the site for a few moments, before discovering the ruins beyond.
The remains of Minster Lovell Hall are spectacular, enigmatic and
beautiful. Much of the medieval building remains, complete with elegant
windows, room partitions and impressive doorways. To be honest, after
a stroll around the grounds, I could think of no better place to spend
a Christmas morning. The location prompted Philip and I to separate,
and explore different areas of the site. We shared a single digital
camera, and took many photographs that morning, which illustrate this
page. After an hour, or so, we both became intrigued by the Dovecote
in the northern field, beyond the boundary of the ruin. A footpath
was evident, leading in that direction, as I had observed the occasional
festive walker, heading in that direction. We decided to do the same.
The Dovecote is a delightful building, and a picture perfect example
of its kind. The stout, round building is approximately 10 meters
across, and built from Cotswold sandstone, like many of the buildings
in this part of the country. The coloration is warm, and honey like,
and very pleasing. A small doorway, on the southern most area of the
wall, allows access to the interior. We both entered the space, unsure
of what we would find inside….
Empty, quiet and
eerie: Upon entering, we were both immediately aware of the strange
atmosphere around us. The bright daytime was gone, and an eerie atmosphere
was enhanced by the dusky hues within. All was quiet. Looking up,
I was very taken with roof construction, and took the digital camera
from my pocket. Philip was standing behind me, quietly taking in the
mood and detail of the interior. There were no additional floors to
speak of, and the construction seemed to tower above us. There were
no doves, or pigeons, present. As far as we knew, the space was deserted.
I took a photograph of the roof beams. The flash lit up the interior,
and the image remained on the digital cameras preview screen for two
seconds, and then disappeared. I was unsure, given the tiny preview,
whether the image was focused, so prepared to take another photograph.
Again, the flash lit up the interior, and my eyes were focused on
the preview screen. I was more than a little startled to see a large
white mass appearing to the right-hand side of the image. It took
me a moment to react, and sadly I panicked almost immediately. There
was something very peculiar about the image, and my instinct was to
leave the confined space, and return to the daylight beyond the small
was rather puzzled by my reactions inside the building, and I quickly
explained what I had seen. He viewed the photographs, but was unable
to come to any conclusions due to the preview sized evidence before
him. We quickly ruled out the possibility of condensation, carried
by our breath. The winter of 2003 was uncannily warm, and no breath
was visible, both to the naked eye, and the camera.
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We decided to return to the holiday cottage, and upload the images
onto our laptop. The increased size would help discount many possible
causes, and allow closer inspection. We were both interested in the
paranormal, but it was nothing more than a passing fancy. Talking
about ghosts often brightened a dull conversation, and we also enjoyed
films featuring the supernatural. I had read a few ghosthunting guides,
through research for my computer games, but had never partaken in
a ghosthunt, séance or vigil. We were both very surprised by our spooky
photograph, and talked for hours that Christmas afternoon about the
afterlife, and what research we could perform regarding the ruins,
and Dovecote. This would have to wait a few days, when we returned
The internet proved to be a great source of information, as always,
and we located various threads of history regarding the building,
but nothing regarding the Dove Cote. I began to compile a webpage,
featuring our photograph, while Philip discovered one interesting
fact after another:
The entire skeleton of a man….: The unluckiest owner of the
house must surely have been Francis, 9th Baron Lovell, who started
life a rich and powerful aristocrat and is said to have gone into
hiding within the vaults. Francis gambled his future on supporting
the Yorkists in the War of the Roses - unlike his predecessor John,
who was a Lancastrian. At first this change of sides brought rewards,
an Francis was made a Viscount by Richard III in 1483. Two years later
, Richard and his supporters were defeated at the Battle of Bosworth.
Francis never gained the favour of the new king, Henry VII, and after
an unsuccessful rebellion in 1487 he is said to have into hiding in
a vault at Minster Lovell Hall (trusting the only key to a servant
who died almost immediately). Two centuries later, in 1708, workmen
making alterations to the house found ‘the entire skeleton of a man,
as having been at a table which was before him with a book, paper,
pen… all much mouldered and decay'.
A disappearing bride: Another
story attached to the Minster Lovell begins one Christmas, when
William Lovell celebrated his wedding at the hall with his young
bride. During a game of hide-and-seek the bride offered to hide.
The guests and William searched for weeks, but she was never found
and eventually William died of a broken heart. Years later, servants
found an old oak chest hidden in the attic and inside was a skeleton
dressed in a bridal gown. It is thought that the lid had fallen
and locked her inside. On windy nights the anguished cries of William
can be heard, as he searches for his missing bride.
From the English Heritage website.
Two stories about individuals being locked away, and forgotten!
Coincidence? Frustratingly, two years later, I can still find no
information regarding the Dovecote, its history, and any possible
ghosts at that location.
As the event which kindled my interests in the paranormal, I can
happily say it could not have happened at a better location. The
photographic evidence taken that day is published above, so I expect
you to take a look, and make up your own minds whether it is a Christmas
Day ghost, or something else entirely. All I will add, is that I
feel it was a great start, and I look forward to returning to the
Dovecote in the future. My next venture through that small door,
and into the rounded building, will be with my ghosthunting gear,
and my fellow hunters from This Haunted Land. Perhaps on a Christmas
Footnote: New Developments
in November 2005
In January, 2006, I was contacted by
Bruce Calgary (of Canada), who had this to offer:
I was interested in your Xmas 2003
picture of the smoke-like "ghost" in the dovecote at Minster
Lovell. I was there first in November 2004 and took some regular
boring pictures which showed nothing peculiar. In November 2005
however, these 2 photographs of myself and my mate Robin were taken
with my cousin's digital camera approx. 30 seconds apart, showing
a phenomenon similar to yours.
It is interesting to
note how the 'mist' appears after the visitors had spent some time
in the Dove Cote, the time of year, and the 'descending' quality
of the 'mist' itself. These photographic examples are very similar
to the images captured back in 2003. Is there a spirit in the Dovecote,
who appears as a descending fog during the winter months.
A further converse with Bruce revealed that the weather, during
his visit to the Dovecote, was mild and sunny. There was no fog,
or mist, and the temperature was not suitable to produce condensation,
and visible breath. None of the party smoke cigarettes, and the
mist was not visible to the naked eye (although those present in
the image seem to be staring straight at it!). So, we are left with
a tantalizing re-appearance of the mists of Minster Lovell, but
are no closer to discovering their origins. Thanks to Bruce for
the images, and info. Minster Lovell is a wonderful ruin, and a
great place to ponder the supernatural.
A new investigation
is planned for Minster Lovell in 2006.
New Addition: Minster Lovell Hall seems to be the number
one for new additions to This Haunted Land, with yet another kind
enthusiast emailing photographs taken near the Dovecote, or among
the crumbling ruins of the old Hall.
Claire, and family members, enjoyed a day out at Minster Lovell
Hall on the 30th April 2006.( Those interested in esoteric calendars
may notice that April 30th is the Eve of May Day, a powerful night
in the pagan calendar). Various orbs, mists and shapes were caught
on camera, as Claire and the family prepared to leave the spot.
Claire reports that she encountered "orb activity, white mist
and strange red lines on our photos,cameras playing up". Please
browse the images below and make up your own mind. The photographs
were taken with Sony and Samsung digital cameras. Double-exposures?
Rain? Or something else?
A new investigation is
planned for Minster Lovell in 2006.
Any information regarding the
Dovecote, or news of investigations, would be very useful to me.
if you have anything of use.
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