Wooly Monkey's, a gothic cottage and a visiting ghost: Now, here's a pleasant change. A daytime investigation at a friendly tourist attraction! Murrayton House, near Milendreath, is home to 14 Amazonian wooly monkeys, who share their home with the ghosts of former occupants.
Built in 1854, the original house was a large complex of buildings, which included a stable block, chapel, gardener's cottage, lodge and orchard. There was also a 'creamery' located within the rambling buildings, and the cottage gardens are thought to have been beautiful. William Murray extended the house in 1965. Later, Earnest Murray married twice, with his second marriage producing 10 children. It is, without doubt, the busiest period of the Murray family, at Murrayton House. The gardens would have been alive with activity, and playful children, enjoying the spectacular Cornish setting. Murrayton remained the property of the Murray family until the late 1930's.
Flowers, bones and guests:
A Colonel Warren took on responsibility of Murrayton House, and converted the gardens into a commercial flower farm. Later, a Mr. Hancock ran a profitable business at Murrayton, when it was opened to guests as a seaside hotel. Slightly stranger, a Mr. Scruton opened Murrayton to the fashionable hypochondriacs of Britain, who were in need of a health farm . Scruton was a bone doctor, by trade. The house passed into the hands of a local farmer, by the name of "Mr. Moffit". Last, but certainly not least, Murrayton was bought in 1964 by Len Williams, which began its transformation from gothic country cottage to the monkey sanctuary we find today.
Much of the house is still beautiful, and very accessible. Leaving the monkey's behind, you can still access the gardens, which are currently functioning as a "wildlife garden". So, don’t expect a cottage garden, neat flowerbeds and exotic species from the darkest continents of the globe. The monkey's provide the exotica, and the gardens provide nectar, seeds and water for Cornwall's varied fauna and fauna. Towering over the sloping garden is the house itself, a rambling but imposing Victorian masterpiece, complete with glass panelled entrance, casement windows, dark timber frame and, of course, a ghost or two!
Late night supernatural shopping: I've been hearing strange things about Murrayton House, of late. There is visitor to the gift shop, who has no intentions of purchasing the teddybears, velcro wallets or souvenir pencils. They are heard by the gift shop staff, walking around the room, and also outside on the veranda. The shop itself has a very new looking wooden floor, and the veranda features the original pebble paved sitting area. It must be a delight in summer, but we arrive on a foggy afternoon in April. Due to the nature of this investigation, we have a few daylight hours to investigate, which although rushed, will make a very pleasant change from dank tunnels, and isolated ruins. You could say this is This Haunted Land's official Easter day out! But, to not lose interest, there was plenty to remind us why we had really come to Murrayton House.
The reluctant medium: Patsy (and her son Myles) joined both myself, and Matt, for this investigation. The limited time we had could not be wasted on pointless wandering, and a medium was required to help us pinpoint areas of activity. Patsy is a rather modest medium, and is no doubt reading this casefile in quiet embarrassment. Although obviously gifted, she dislikes the public image of mediums, given their portrayal in the media of late (especially television). There are some truly wonderful mediums in the public eye, but they are severely outnumbered by charlatans and panto psychics. Patsy has a much more organic approach, and does not enjoy the glamour. So, it is with some reluctance, that she enters the glassy entrance hall of Murrayton House to begin today's investigation.
The Investigation: April 3rd, 2005. From 13:30 to 16:30.
Upon entering the entrance hall, Patsy stopped immediately. She sensed a gentlemen in the room beyond view, but was unable to give us a name. She went on to say:
"…not an unpleasant man, but he's quite bossy. He likes things to be 'just so', and feels he isn't making himself clear. He needs to clarify something".
I enquired about a date, or further details regarding the man, and Patsy had this to offer:
"….busy, busy, busy, he's not wishing to lose anymore time. He's wasted a few years already. He's happier now, things are coming together, and he is less cross than before. He regrets…. Regrets…there's a second person involved. A woman. She also comes here for visits, from her resting place. Her aura is weak, less distinct. Oh. This is interesting. He's jealous of her, no, not jealous, that's too strong a word. He envious of her freedom, and ability to leave it all behind. He's busy with his books. She's not busy. She's happy to wander, and enjoy the house. He doesn't mind. No, he doesn't mind at all."
"Any names? Or rough dates?" I ask.
"…no, not from them, but the house has plenty to say. I feel these two people are in relaxed Edwardian dress, and the room beyond is dark, with panelling, and books. Definitely early Edwardian. She is younger than he is, and has a modern way of seeing the world. He is more of a traditionalist….there's a strong presence of mind, in the next room…"
It was at this moment that I recieved a definite, and strong, poke in the back. I thought, at first that Matt was attempting to draw my attention to something. Turning, I gave him a 'what?!' type look. His puzzled expression told me everything I needed to know. He hadn't poked me. Nor did anyone else. I point out this strange development, and Patsy smiles:
"Yes, you are not the only one. I'm sure a lot of people have experienced a touch to thier faces, and bodies. You shouldn't be alarmed. I feel it's a form of 'hello', the best way they can".
An uninvited guest joins the group: We leave the entrance, and step to the left, into the gift shop. I know this is where people have reported sounds, and shadows, but I haven't given any indication of this to Patsy. So, I was quite surprised, following her through the door, to find her pointing at the fireplace and saying:
"There, look! By the fireplace! Can you see her?!"
Sadly, I couldn't see anything, except the merchandise on sale, all around us. Frustrating, but immaterial at this moment. Thankfully, Matt was quick off the mark, and started taking photographs with his digital camera. Whether or not you believe in "orbs", we did capture one by the fireplace, as Patsy explained:
"It's the lady, who wanders the grounds. She's fading…. NO… she's going outside. She prefers the outside porch, and the swing."
Both Matt and I look at each other, and mouth the same question, "what swing?". We have no information regarding a swing, or any activities on the veranda. So, should the right person be reading this casefile, please drop me a mail. Anyway! Patsy is now moving through the French doors, and out onto the veranda. The atmosphere outside is calm, and a little eerie. The damp, foggy weather has deterred the tourists, and we have the place to ourselves. A wall of grey surrounds the house. If anywhere, or anytime, were suitable for a visitation I would say it was a none existent day like today. A day too stubborn to make a full appearance.
"There is a presence here, but it isn't the lady from the shop. It's not even human! Ha ha! A small dog plays in this area. He's 'yaps' away at all hours. People must hear it, it's very clear. He's delightful, and very friendly. He doesn't bother the monkeys, but he does find them fascinating. He's adorable."
Myles, Patsy's son, is delighted to hear about the small dog, but doesn't seem too bothered at not being able to see it. It was a charming moment, in a lovely location. This could well be the most life affirming moment I have experienced on an investigation so far. Writing this casefile evokes such happiness, as it proves not all ghosthunting need take place in dank basements and gloomy castles.
Walking back inside the house, via the gift shop, Patsy points out that this area is definitely the most "active". She is convinced people will have seen many an odd occurrence, but nothing too alarming. The entities who cause these events only visit, they are not trapped in the fabric of the building. They return to this place to remember endless, warm, wonderful summers.
"It's hot summer outside. Forget the fog. It isn't what she sees. The garden is in bloom, with red roses and hollyhocks. There's something about the ivy. She's quite specific about it. Go under the ivy, go to the rose, and we shall know."
Hmm, we were not expecting a ghostly riddle, but I will search the garden for any rose bushes. My horticultural skills are not too hot, but even I can spot a rose bush, can't I? Matt and Patsy continue their walk around the ground floor of Murrayton House:
"This is a lovely house. Not just the building. I mean the memories. The collective memories of those who have wined, dined, romanced and loved in this house. It's almost intoxicating. So many people have been loved by this house".
My search in the foggy garden is less romantic, and provided no secret rose bushes, or ivy covered follies. Wishful thinking. However, I did find a rather nice obelisk in a quiet corner. From there, I descended down some earthy steps to the woods below. On a clear day I can imagine the cliffs are visible through the branches. The location reminded me very much of Daphne du Maurier's 'Manderley'. A beautiful country house, perched precariously on the Cornish clifftops. My reverie was broken upon spying the most bizarre object. A stickman, in the style of the creations seen in the Blair Witch film, was propped in a fence panel. I can only imagine one of the staff has a playful sense of humour, as I am quite sure no witchcraft takes place. That would be silly. After a few moments, I returned to the house….
A fond farewell:
….my return to the house finds Patsy and Matt discussing the layout of the building, and the additions built to house the monkeys. She feels the previous owners are far from upset by the changes, and knows the monkeys are not the slightest bit bothered by any supernatural visitations. Packing up, we walk back along the tree-lined driveway, and I can't help think there is something truly bizarre about Amazonian monkeys witnessing Edwardian ghosts. Surreal, but very appealing. Murrayton House and The Monkey Sanctuary are delightful, and well worth a visit, regardless of whether you are an animal lover, or keen ghosthunter. I must thank the staff of the Sanctuary, who were most patient during our eccentric ramblings.
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