Hangleton Manor Inn, Hangleton, East Sussex
Hangleton Manor Inn is in Hangleton Valley Drive, Hangleton, which is part of Hove and was built in the mid 16th century by Richard Bellingham, who was Sheriff of Sussex. It is thought to be the oldest domestic building in the area and it looks a little out of place in the middle of a modern housing estate. It didn’t become an inn until 1982.
Bellingham sold the Manor to the Sackville family in 1597 and they rented it to the Hardwicks for around 300 years. The Sackvilles kept the freehold of the property until 1967. It is believed that the Hardwicks moved to Hangleton from Derbyshire to sort out the smuggling problem in the area but it seems that they too became smugglers! The Hardwicks became used to hearing, and seeing, the building's ghosts.
It is haunted by a woman who is believed to have been a servant but she is dressed in a fine brown, silk gown. She is often seen at the same time that tappings are heard on the panelling of a ground floor room. The staff refer to her as Lady Jane. She is supposed to have become pregnant by the owner of the house. She murdered the child, either by throwing it from an attic window or by drowning it.
The sounds of skittles are often heard from the area where the skittle alley used to be and doors open and close by themselves. Footsteps and tappings have been heard in the building and white, disembodied hands have been seen on an upstairs door and its handle.
A man in a white velvet cloak has been seen downstairs and the jingling of his spurs were heard at the same time as this sighting.
Another woman, who is felt rather than seen, gently pushes people she doesn’t like out of one of the rooms and the air becomes colder when she is around. Like Lady Jane, she is also reported to wear a brown silk skirt, so have the stories of the two women ghosts become muddled over time?
A monk is said to have cursed the dovecote because he hated the droppings the birds created. Ghostly pigeons have been seen in it’s vicinity.
The air is thick with spirit, we could feel it as soon as we walked into the porch. Debbie could see a servant girl who is sobbing and holding a newborn baby girl. “What should I do? I don’t know what to do. The talk, the gossip. No-one will talk to me – they won’t even talk to me now. The shame. It’s not my fault. He promised, he promised me that I couldn’t get pregnant the first time, he promised that we were to marry. He lied, he lied. What I am to do? The baby is beautiful, I love her so much, but I can’t keep her. I don’t know what to do. Please help me God, I am so confused.”
She is standing looking out of an upstairs window whilst holding the baby. She hears a horse and carriage and leans out to see who is coming. The baby falls from her arms. She screams and keeps on screaming. “My poor baby. My poor baby. My poor baby. Help her.” A man gets out of the carriage and rushes over to the child. He picks her up and realises she is dead. Blood is coming from the back of her head. Her mother is hysterical. She is grounded and not at peace. She feels guilty about her baby’s death. She didn’t mean for her to come to any harm, it was an accident. But she didn’t want her and she believes that because she prayed for help, God took her away.
Debbie then sees a Tudor woman with a big, white ruffle around her neck, standing in the doorway between the two rooms in the Saxon Bar. Her name is Mary and she has a white, heavily made-up face. She is wearing a dark green dress and is related to the family by marriage. She is proud of her links to the family but feels like a poor relation. She helps to look after the children – she tutors them. She is proud of her education. She tells Debbie that not many women are as knowledgeable and literate as she is. She loves to write. She spends her allowance on parchment, ink and quills. She keeps a diary and writes down everything that has happened each day, together with all her thoughts and opinions. She is a second cousin and is lucky to have this position. One of her sisters was taken to a nunnery and another is married to a clergyman. Her brother will inherit their father’s property – not that there is much left now. She hopes to make a good marriage to a distant cousin. It gets very cold here in the winter. She has a room in the attic, bigger than the servants, of course, and, thankfully, she doesn’t have to share. “I am not a servant, I am family. I look after two children, one boy and one girl. Another is on the way. They are very young, so I am teaching them their letters on a slate with chalk. They are twins. The girl is older but the boy will inherit. Doesn’t seem right somehow. But then my sisters and I are older than our brother, he is the youngest, but he will have everything. My mother tells me off for being too independent. Men only want obedient wives. I must learn to be more obedient. It is so hard when you see men making stupid mistakes. My father lost a lot of money because he didn’t understand what he was doing. Mother and I knew, but we couldn’t stop him. You don’t question your father’s (or husband’s) actions. It is not done. They are supposed to know best. I hope I don’t marry a stupid man. My father is looking for a husband for me. I hope he is better at that than looking after money!”
Her father was well respected and her cousin treated her well. In her spare time she would often sit on the bench set into the wall in the entrance porch. She made Debbie sit there when we arrived and when we left. She felt at peace there. She was included in all family gatherings.
She never married. She died of an illness only 3 days before her wedding – to a stupid man!
Alec felt that there was a William and Henry there in Tudor times.
He also talked to Mr Smith who took part in any games that were organised by the pub. He said that Joan was a great sport, she would have a go at anything.
Debbie heard the words, “sleepy, fell asleep, by the fire, didn’t wake up.” An old man died in his sleep. He was quiet and unassuming. He was a loyal butler, approximately 300 years ago. He retired on a pension due to his loyal service and because he knew something damning about his boss, who was involved in an accidental death, which could have been interpreted as murder. The butler realised that his employer wasn’t at fault, so he kept his mouth shut.