The village of Compton is full of history and like anywhere with old buildings, we appear to have plenty of ghosts wandering around.
The Lyne family farmed from Compton Manor House between 1853 and 1903. Ada Este Lyne (born 1891) wrote an article about the house and times.
“It was supposed that the house was haunted and various people, over the years, had stated that they had heard noises coming from the nether regions of the house. Others moved that a figure of a woman, dressed in a white garment, came up the stairs and brushed past them. My mother was not a person to be easily scared, but she felt obliged to have company, when on her own”.
Two of the sisters later met Penny Neyroud in the mid-1960s. They said that they had had to leave the house because of the “grey lady’s” activities. She pulled off the bedclothes and threw things in the kitchen. The doctor said that these activities would cause “brain-fever” if they remained.
The Neyroud family moved into the Manor in Place Lane in the 1960s and have stories about “the Grey Lady” who frequents the place, although they have never seen her.
The Neyrouds say they hear noises – a woman’s voice down in the kitchen, a doorknob turned on a door which is blocked from the other side. Once the front doorbell rang but clearly no one was there. On occasions, Penny would think she heard her husband come home in the evenings, but when she checked he was not there and arrived later on.
Major Hatherway-Jones and his family, who lived there during the Second World War, frequently saw her in the small kitchen when they were cooking breakfast, but it didn’t worry them.
Between the wars, Miss Wilson stayed at the Manor when it was a small private hotel, while her mother was looking for a place to buy. She heard someone come up to her room and thought it was her mother, but then her mother came up later and had not been up earlier.
Dogs too seem to sense her presence. Another lady, who lived at the Manor between the wars, said her dog avoided some places in the garden. She had found him staring at a bricked up gate. Another dog was seen staring down the hallway. Sophie Neyroud says her dog often growls at one corner in her bedroom.
Some of their tenants have seen her too. There were four young men living there, and one of their girlfriends was most annoyed to find a dark woman in the bedroom. An Australian couple with six children lived in the cottage for a year. After their first night, their daughter came down to breakfast and asked ‘who was the stone lady who came into my room?’
David, the son of a friend of Penny’s, a most matter of fact young man, was walking down Place Lane to Twyford when he saw a lady in grey standing by one of the little bridges over the Itchen feeder channels. As he drew near, she vanished. Was she the Grey Lady? Penny always heard, but doesn’t know if it is true, that the Grey Lady may have been a housekeeper during the Civil War and that she had gone for a walk down to the river where she had seen the people in the big house in Shawford (which was in the field behind the walls just after the railway tunnel) burying their money; and they killed her. This is probably wrong, but if true it would explain why she might have been seen down by the river.
One night when it was dark and cold, Penny was walking up Compton Street to the Scout Hall when she saw a black-robed figure coming out of the churchyard. Thinking it was the Rector, Nigel Ovendon, she said good night to him. A little further on she met Nigel coming out of the Rectory gates! She thinks she saw one of the monks from Silkstead who, the story goes, haunt the yew walk.
Also in Compton Street, there is reputed to be the ‘angry ploughman’ or “Piers, the ploughman” who often appeared in the kitchen. It seemed he once had a dispute over wages long ago. Others have heard Oliver Cromwell’s troops and horses clattering around at night.
Yew Tree Cottage is one of the oldest houses in the street. It dates back to around 1635 when it was two cottages. The far end was a very small cow barn, with the dairy adjoining the barn and the house. The present owners, the Ashcrofts, have not seen the ghost. They believe he was a roundhead who fought at the Battle of Cheriton on 29 March 1644. The legend is that he wanders around the far end of the house where the barn was. They think that Oliver Cromwell came to the barn, and discussed attacking Winchester.
The research into the ghosts has reminded me of some of the fascinating history that is connected to Compton. Perhaps there are some more characters apart from the ladies, farmers, soldiers and monks. Has anyone else any stories I wonder?
- From Penny Neyroud (Compton Manor Farm House 1964 – present)
- Ada Este Lyne (Compton Manor Farm House 1891-1903)
See also on this website:
Footprints From The Past… Place Lane for the better-authenticated story of Goldfinch Cottage and Captain Barnard.
The original version of this article appeared in the March 2015 issue of the Compton & Shawford Parish Magazine. Revisions of paragraphs 2 to 5 are by John Wilkinson.