Preston Manor has a long history of ghostly phenomena and supernatural experiences. The Stanford family were particularly troubled by sightings of the lady in white, while a lady in grey apparently ascended and descended the main staircase disappearing into nowhere.
Several guests staying in the south-west bedroom (now housing the remains of Charles’s library) apparently reported seeing disembodied hands on the bedposts, and another recounted hearing ‘weird and uncanny noises… issuing from the big dress cupboard’.
There have also been modern-day sightings, such as a ghost playing with a toy tractor in the nursery in the 1960s and non-existent visitors, as well as lights turning off for no reason, and a ghostly hand turning a doorknob.
The Lady in White
A séance was held in the Cleves Room on 11 November 1896. For several years the family had been troubled by inexplicable phenomena including silk dresses cut into diamond patterns and mysterious figures seen on the staircase. The medium, Ada Goodrich Freer, revealed that she was receiving messages from a nun called Sister Agnes who had been wrongly excommunicated from the Church and buried in unconsecrated ground outside the house. It was claimed that if she was given a Christian burial, the haunting would cease.
A year later, there was an epidemic of sore throats, and the drains at the house were inspected. The skeleton of a woman was found under the terrace outside the dining room (now the Macquoid Room) and the bones were certified as being about 400 years old. Accounts of what happened next are confused, but the skeleton was apparently reburied discretely by a local gravedigger. The ghost is reported to have made no further appearances within living memory.
Most Haunted! at the Manor
Is Preston Manor the most haunted house in Brighton? LIVING tv’s Most Haunted! thought so when they filmed at Preston Manor back in June 2006. The crew experienced one of their most active nights of paranormal activity and show host Yvette Fielding said:
‘We were thrilled by our experiences at Preston Manor. The house has a fascinating history and our investigations were more than fully rewarded. Karl is convinced he was confronted by the manor’s White Lady!’