On Home Ground: Levens Hall, Cumbria

Richard Cavendish explores Levens Hall in Cumbria.

A guide was taking a group of visitors round Levens Hall some years ago when he realised that they had all stopped listening to him and were gazing fixedly at something over his shoulder. Turning to look, he saw what it was – a figure standing on the staircase in a long pink print dress, apron and mob cap. It was the celebrated Pink Lady, an apparition who bobs up in different parts of the house from time to time. There is also a friendly little black dog which runs up the same staircase, accompanying visitors who are then puzzled to find no trace of it when they reach the bedrooms.

That Levens Hall should attract ghosts is hardly surprising. The present owner, Mr Charles Henry (‘Hal’) Bagot, who has been in charge since 1975, is not psychic. He rather wistfully regrets that he has never seen one of the haunting visitants himself, but the house has an outstandingly warm and friendly atmosphere which any sensible spectre might well decide to linger in. It has been preserved in its pre-Georgian glory of panelling and plasterwork by generations of Bagots and their Howard predecessors, while outside is one of the finest topiary gardens in England.

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