The Dove Cote. Minster Lovell Hall. Name: Minster Lovell Hall
Location: Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire
Weather: Warm, bright and clear. No breeze. Temp: 13°C
Investigators: Philip, Jonathan.
Map Ref: OS Map of Minster Lovell Hall (remains)
trails some
The Ghost of Christmas Present: Back in 2003, at noon on Christmas Day, I encountered what I believe to be my first real brush with the paranormal. I could say, this is where it all started, and I would be right. Below is a new write-up of that occasion, created for inclusion on the 'This Haunted Land' website. The original online write-up is also available here.

On Christmas day in the morning: Philip and I had rented a holiday cottage (for the Christmas period), near the pretty Cotswold town of Burford. After exploring our immediate area, it was felt we should explore a little further on Christmas morning, and enjoy the quiet and unique atmosphere that Christmas Day has to offer. Checking our OS map, I was intrigued to see the word "remains" pinpointing an unknown site, only a few miles down the road. Jumping into the car we set off towards the village of Minster Lovell, on the Oxfordshire border.

Delicate 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 door.

Philip 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.

Ghost Games to play at home

Continue your Ghost-Hunting at home!

Ever wanted to attend a 'ghost-hunt' or explore spooky, haunted locations? You can, without having to venture out into the chilly darkness. The games are suitable for all, with lots of puzzles, hidden clues and historical research. Get 'ghost-hunting' today!

  • Use REAL ghost-hunting gadgets; seen on the TV!
  • See into the dark with Nite-Vision technology.
  • Communicate with ghosts, and try to 'set them free'.
  • Settings are all based on REAL British locales.

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 to London.

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 Day morning.


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.
Bruce Eggertson
Calgary, Canada

Click to view image 1. Click to view image 2.

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.


Another 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?

Click to view larger images of Minster Lovell Hall. Click to view larger images of Minster Lovell Hall. Click to view larger images of Minster Lovell Hall.
Click to view larger images of Minster Lovell Hall. Click to view larger images of Minster Lovell Hall. Click to view larger images of Minster Lovell Hall.


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. Please email if you have anything of use.