The Ghosts of Nether Lypiatt Manor

Sightings of a ghostly Blacksmith riding a horse are said to be seen on every January 25th. Here's the story and history behind the hauntings and the people who once lived there. 

Nether Lypiatt old photo

There is a beautiful neo-classical house near the town of Stroud in Gloucestershire called Nether Lypiatt and it was built on the instructions of Judge Charles Coxe, who was sometimes known as the hanging judge.

Judge Coxe married Mary Chamberlain, whose father was Thomas Chamberlain of Wanborough Wiltshire. The Chamberlains descended from an ancient family called Freme and it was this land that Judge Coxe came to be the owner of from his marriage to the heiress Mary in 1693.

There had been a house on the acres of land but it was demolished so that Judge Coxe could construct a house that fitted in with his tastes and lifestyle and was built on the exact spot the previous house had been. The new house was said to have been inspired by 2 very well known houses of that time; Coleshill and Clarendon House, who were designed by the prominent Sir Roger Pratt. 

Judge Coxe was very particular about the house. It had to be designed to be as square as the rolling lands would allow for and has been described as small but perfectly formed. The house has had several well known (and very rich) owners but the ghosts of Nether Lypiatt all seem to come from the time Judge Coxe resided there.

The house has a beautiful set of wrought iron gates and the folklore here is that Judge Coxe had a case before him and the accused was a talented blacksmith. It is said that Judge Coxe offered the blacksmith a deal; make me the most perfect iron gates or you will be hanged for your crime. It is never stated what crime this blacksmith was accused of, only that the blacksmith agreed to undertake this task. The judge added that if the blacksmith were to fail, he would be hanged,

So the blacksmith, under the threat of being executed, started making these perfect wrought iron gates. He spent weeks making the gates until he felt they were, in fact, perfect. When the gates went up, Judge Coxe went to look at them and found a small imperfection. It was then that the blacksmith was hanged but before he was, the blacksmith cursed the judge. His house and lands. Any bad luck that the occupants of Nether Lypiatt was blamed on this curse.

It’s also said that the son of the judge hanged himself in the house but there are no records which show this to be true. There was one living thing that Judge Coxe seemed to very much love and that was a horse called Wag. It is said that this horse lived to a ripe old age and that he was a very clever animal indeed, The occupants at Nether Lypiatt, would attach panniers to the horses saddle with shopping lists inside and Wag would make his way over to Stroud and the shopkeepers would greet the horse and look into the panniers for the lists then put those items into the panniers. Wag would then return back to Nether Lypiatt and the shopping would be done!

There is a bronze obelisk amongst the trees by the house and there is an inscription to the horse and it read;

‘My name was Wag that rolled the green,

The oldest horse that ever was seen,

My years they numbered 42,

I served my master just and true’  

The judge was considered hateful to blacksmiths but fond of animals by the townsfolk of Stroud and you can see why.

The house and its lands are haunted by the hanged blacksmith and Wag the horse and it is said that on every January 25th, that the ghost of the blacksmith sits on top of a ghostly horse (said to be Wag) and crashed open those iron gates, with the blacksmith wailing out loud. This is said to have been the date the blacksmith lost his life.

Another occupant of the house, a Mrs Violet Gordon-Woodhouse moved there in 1923. She lived a very bohemian and hedonistic lifestyle at Nether Lypiatt. She was the first harpsichordist to have her playing recorded and broadcast, She had prodigious abilities in her playing the harpsichord and clavichord. She was married but in name only and took on several lovers, both male and females, some of whom resided with her and her husband at Nether Lypiatt. The ghosts were widely spoken about during Violet’s life in the house and when her nephew took up residence there, after Violet's death, the blacksmith’s curse was blamed for any bad luck such as divorcees. Accidents. deaths of pets etc

Her own family background was also notable in the sense of how she inherited her fathers immense wealth. It is said that her 2 unmarried sisters, to whom her father left all his wealth and possessions to, were murdered by their butler so the money went to Violet. You can read about Violet’s life here


Nether Lypiatt was locally known as the Haunted House and in 1956, a local historian said it was given this name due to it being empty and having a poor state of appearance not long before WWII. There had been people breaking into the house and some reported seeing a horse of the rather grand stairwell as well as a grey lady being seen too.

It was in 1981 that the cousin of Queen Elizabeth the II, Prince Michael of Kent, moved him, his wife, Princess Michael of Kent and their children into Nether Lypiatt. It is reported that the house cost £300,000 and ended up selling it in 2006 for £5.75 million and that they had to move due to their financial situation . They were asked if it was the hauntings that made them leave?The Princess is quoted as saying: "I have no doubt that many old houses have some kind of spirit presence or ghost and, if Nether Lypiatt Manor has such, he, she or it, must be benign and well disposed. "We as a family, our guests and our pets have always felt a welcome from the house from the day we arrived, and have been extremely happy living here".

It is not known whether the current occupants have experienced any hauntings and I do wonder if ghostly music, played on a harpsichord or clavichord, has ever been heard there too?