In Silver street, there stands a house that has as much history to it as it does hauntings. Slowwe House, or as it was originally called ‘Slo’ or ‘Sloo’ House. It is a Grade II Listed building but originally said to have been a hunting lodge when the grounds were used for farming purposes for Berkeley Castle. There is mention of the then house being occupied in the Domesday Book. It has been added to over these years so parts of the house were modelled onto and into the house as the centuries passed. It has a Victorian wing, a Jacobean staircase and Gothic windows and is now 3 storeys high. The actual site of the house had been dated to have been used during the Roman times as there is a Roman coffin in what is now the garden and the courtyard is said to be Roman. The bottom of the garden, there is a monastery wall and there is even a tiny chapel attached to one side of the house. In 1566, Thomas Hodges purchased the house and it remained in his family for 290 years. Personal items of the Hodges family were later discovered at the property; a sleeveless silk gown (1700-1710), a hatbox from the 18th century and an original bill of sale from 1778 from a Covent Garden shop called Riding Habit & Robe Maker. All of these items were donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
When it was owned by the Reverend John Sayer in the 19th century, he was the vicar of Arlingham and would entertain the School Master and Mistress of Arlingham Day school and Sunday School. Even the pioneer of the smallpox vaccine, Edward Jenner, would visit the house. For an in depth history of Slowwe House and Arlingham, get a copy of Antiquities of Arlingham Parish, which goes into much more detail.
Slowwe House has had many residents throughout its existence, as you can imagine and the first reported ghostly goings on takes us back to the 1960’s, when the house was occupied by a hippy commune. The house, by this stage, was quite a tumbledown and unkempt building. Apparently the haunting got so bad that a priest was called in to perform an exorcism. The house had gone to auction in 1968 but failed to reach its reserve so was withdrawn. It was also used for the local flower arranger group in the village to exhibit their flower arrangements in 1962.
In the 1970’s, a progressive rock band Paladin lived, rehearsed and where they would invite people from the music industry to Slowwe House to listen to their music as they didn’t record demos of their music. There isn’t anything on record to say the band or their guests experienced any paranormal activity.
The Grey Lady
Also in the 1970’s, the Lacey family, mum, dad and 7 children, purchased the back wing of the property. There was also a hippy commune living in the front part but it was the Lacey’s that experienced what they called ‘The Grey Lady’. The Lacey’s moved into the barn so that they could gut the building as it was in a dire state. When doing the renovations, it was then that the ghostly activity began. They would have to return to the house as lights would be switched on even though they had made sure no lights were left on. One evening they had to return 3 times to switch the lights off. Windows would open and shut by themselves when no one was in the house. As the building work ended, they started to decorate the walls with their favourite pictures but these pictures kept falling off the walls. In particular, one picture (sadly it doesn’t state what the picture was of) kept being taken off the wall so much so that Mrs Lacey never bothered putting that picture back up on the wall.
Mrs Lacey says that the family didn’t take too much notice of these happenings until she was looking out onto the courtyard when she saw the ghostly figure of the grey lady, walking across the courtyard. She had on a long grey dress and wore a grey bonnet. Mrs Lacey did a double take and still saw her! Mrs Lacey turned away for a couple of seconds then turned back to look out the window and the figure had disappeared.
The grey lady was also seen in the house. Mrs Lacey was in the kitchen and as she turned round to get something from the worktop, the grey lady was right behind her, only to disappear in front of her eyes. She was also spotted on the landing, walking along and then disappearing. It seemed that the grey lady liked the guest bedroom as she was often seen there by the family and their guests. The 2 young daughters of the Lacey family would sometimes like to sleep in that room and would sometimes see the grey lady, just standing there in the room when they awoke. There had been much paranormal activity in the front part of the house, so much so that the hippy commune called in a priest to exorcise it in the 1960’s.
Another property in the village, called Court House, had a dark and spooky foretelling of a future event. It was on the 24th May 1757, when the residents, the Yate family, saw a ghostly funeral procession make its way up the avenue to Court House. It was exactly a year from that date that the last male heir of the Yate family died. The house was passed onto a distant descendant by marriage so was no longer in the Yate family as it had been for many centuries.
It was at the Arlingham church in June, 1902 where there was a sighting of a ghost. Alice Godfrey, who wrote about her own ghostly encounters during the turn of the century, went to the church where she wanted to view some carvings. As Alice entered the church, she came upon a lady, who was sitting on the front pew on the left hand side of the church. As Alice approached her, she saw the lady was of an older age and wore a black gown, a white lace cap with her hair up in a bun. She then asked the lady where she would find the carvings. The lady looked at Alice, smiled and then just vanished. Alice scuttled out the church but took a look back and saw the figure of the lady, sitting right where she had been. Alice went to where a gardener was working in the graveyard and told him of what she had seen. He told her she had seen ‘Old Mrs Budge’, who had been the vicar’s housekeeper but had been dead for many years.