Waddesdon, a haunted house?
Pippa Shirley, Director, Collections, Historic Properties and Landscapes, deliberates her personal experiences and whether Waddesdon could be haunted.
One of the questions we often get asked at Waddesdon is whether the Manor is haunted.
I still vividly remember soon after my arrival 20 years ago being asked by one of our very long-standing Room Wardens, as they were then called (they are House Hosts now) if I could hear “Miss Alice’s Bell”. Miss Alice, who died in 1922 was the sister of Baron Ferdinand, the builder of Waddesdon, and was renowned for strictness about high standards and her housekeeping “Rules” which were followed to the letter by her staff. Did she have a bell? We don’t know, but her personality is certainly still felt in the house today, and the Stewards still abide by many of her rules.
Waddesdon is a relatively young house – it was built from 1874 – so it does not have the priest’s hole, secret passages or uneven creaking floorboards found in some older houses, although we do have hidden service stairs. But it is undeniably impressive, particularly when walking through the dimly-lit rooms at night, when the visitors have departed for the day, and even more so in the winter months, when much of the collection is shrouded with white dust covers and the wind is singing down the high chimneys.
Now and then a bat will make its way in (the chimneys again) and we carefully remove them, and of course there are plenty of spiders. But every house has spiders….
Head of Collections and Gardens