Prestbury Ghosts

Idsall House

This beautiful building, now offices, stands just off the High Street in Prestbury and has a couple of small ghostly incidents. It was reported to local newspaper, Gloucestershire Echo, in 1989, that whilst a workman was doing alterations on the house and had gone down to the cellar. It wasn’t too long after he got there, that he was pushed, hard, from behind. As he was there on his own, he made the decision to leave the cellar area promptly!

There have also been whispers in the village about a female resident who was afraid to go to the top of the house, so she wouldn’t bump into ‘the apparition’. 

I set about researching the house, the people who had dwelled there and why these hauntings could’ve happened. It wasn’t too easy to find out some history of this house until I found its original name; The Cleevelands. It appears the name change happened around the 1930’s as it seems the house went up for auction and part of the land (it had 16 acres) was sold to housing developers, who called the development ‘The Cleevelands Estate.’

Idsall House was first mentioned in a newspaper article in 1937 as the owner's daughter, Dorothy Stevens, who was an adult, passed away. Reports never gave her age but she appeared to have been involved in many charities in the area and a devoted churchgoer.

Before the Stevens owned the property, it had been the home of Dr Lidderdale, his wife and their children. Like the Stevens, they too had been involved with charity work, the church and local community. It was in August, 1921, that 47 year old Reverend John Gorham Forrest, stayed with the Lidderdale family at the property. He had previously spent 12 years in a London asylum and was allowed leave from the asylum but for only 2 weeks. He had written to the asylum, asking for a longer leave. The only rule Dr Lidderdale had made was that Forrest let the family know when he was going out and when he would return. His manner, as observed by Dr Lidderdale, had been one of calmness and Forrest was very cultured and could speak about current news and appeared to have no outward suicide tendancies. 

One day, when the post arrived, Forrest saw an envelope that had been sent by the asylum but addressed to Dr Lidderdale. The letter stated that Forrest would have to go back to the asylum on November the 15th. Forrest confided to Dr Lidderdale that he felt if he were to return to the asylum, he’d never get out again. 

It was now October and Forrest was playing the piano and appeared very cheerful. He had told one of the servants to inform Mrs Lidderdale that he wouldn’t be at the house for lunch but would return at 6 o’clock. The servant was the last person to see him alive.  Forrest had taken a trip to Tewkesbury to visit the Abbey and other historical places the town had to offer.

Back at the house, it had gone 6 o’clock and Dr Lidderdale became anxious about the no show of Forrest so he told the police. 

It was around 5.15pm that a local fisherman, Chas Bassett, was going to Lower Lode to take a boat out there to fish. When he approached the bank of the river, he saw a straw hat and a walking stick, placed carefully on a bush. Bassett went out on the water in his boat and found the body in about 6 feet of water. He managed, with assistance, to drag the body out and onto the bank, where he gave resuscitation to the body but to no avail. It was Forrest. 

At the inquest, a solicitor called Reginald John Winterbottom, who had known Forrest for 15 years, told the coroner that the asylum was about to relieve Forrest so he would no longer have to return to the asylum. It appears this was being discussed around the same time that Forrest took his own life. Winterbottom said that if Forrest had known this, then he would have never taken his own life. 

If you follow the theory of Stone Tape Theory, then could it be that the feelings of Forrest embedded the fabric of the building and in turn, scared someone who lived there and someone working there?  To add to this, there is an actual stream that is hidden and runs along what is now the drive of Idsall House and goes through the churchyard of St Mary’s, where many ghosts and apparitions have been witnessed. Some say that running water can enhance paranormal activities, so could that be the case for Idsall House and the churchyard?