Places to Visit: Minster Lovell Hall

Tucked behind the church of St Kenelm in the beautiful Cotswolds village of Minster Lovell lie the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall. Home of the Lovell family for generations, Francis Lovell, loyal follower of Richard III, lived here in and Richard himself visited the Hall in 1483. There is also a Dovcote to see and to make it even better, this is one of English Heritage's free to visit properties!

These imposing ruins stand beside the river Windrush, an idyllic, peaceful location. However, if the stories are to be believed, the history of Minster Lovell Hall is full of disappearances, tragedy and sadness. 

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In 1487, Francis Lovell backed the pretender, Lambert Simnel against Henry VII.  He was forced to flee after the rebellion was crushed and was last seen swimming his horse across the River Trent after the battle of Stoke. Legend has it that he returned to the Hall and  hid in an underground room, looked after by an old servant, the only person who knew where he was.  When the servant died, Lovell was trapped in the room with no hope of escape.

When builders were renovating the Hall in 1708, they discovered a secret vault behind an old chimney where there was a body, sitting at a table,  with a book, pen and paper, his dog at his feet, and a cap laying on the floor. Just to add to the mystery, it is claimed that the bones crumbled to dust before their eyes. 

Another story tells of the ghost of a knight in shining armour, riding his white charger- perhaps Lord Lovell himself. 

Yet another story connected to Minster Lovell Hall is related in a ballard entitled 'The Mistletoe Bough'. One Christmas,  William Lovell was celebrating his wedding when his bride offered to hide for a game of hide-and-seek. Everyone searched high and low- but she was never found and William is said to have died of a broken heart.

Years later, a servant found an old oak chest, hidden in an attic, and inside was a skeleton dressed in wedding finery, leading people to believe that William's bride had become trapped in her hiding place and died. On windy nights, it is said that William's anguished cries can be heard, echoing through the hall as he searches for his missing bride.

English Heritage make no mention of these ghosts either on the signs at the site or on their website, but have published a wonderful book called 'Haunted Heritage' by John Mason which I used as my main source for this post- well worth a read whatever you believe!

Minster Lovell Hall is a wonderfully atmospheric location- these are stories ripe for an amazing author to develop and make their own. If only I could write...

Haunted Heritage   John Mason

Collins and Brown    ISBN: 978-1855856936

You can find out more about Minster Lovell Hall on the English Heritage website.