Royalist Devil of Woodstock

by MJ Wayland

From Woodstock Manor House comes the tale of the “Royalist Devil of Woodstock”, whether the spirit was the devil or an ingenious follower of the King, it disturbed the Parliamentarians so much, they refused to occupy the building again.

Formerly Woodstock Palace, Woodstock Manor House was visited by Cromwell’s commissioners on 13th October 1649, with order to remove all evidence of the King’s occupancy there. During their stay they were victims of sever poltergeist activity, believed at the time to be the disembodied spirit of a Royalist.

Three days after their arrival at the Manor House, paranormal activity began. Two of the commissioners, and members of their staff, saw a phantom dog entering the room they were using as a bedroom. It went over to their beds and started gnawing at the cords.

The next night was even more eventful, their beds were hoisted up and down so violently by invisible hands that they were said to be a mass of bruises the following morning. The wood from the King’s Oak, which by then had been cut into small pieces, was found scattered around the dining room, and furniture was found overturned. Objects were hurled about various rooms and candles were blown out as soon as they were lighted. Bedclothes were flung from their beds.

On 29th October, the walls were shaken and the windows broken by loud noises that were heard all over the neighbourhood and the servants were panic-stricken. One of the servants was nearly killed by another, when he appeared during the night dressed only in his shirt, and was mistaken for a ghost.

For the next few nights there was complete silence but on the 2nd November the sounds were heard again, this time seeming to come from three different places at the same time. The noise became that bad that it scared away local poachers who were wandering in the grounds, leaving their poaching equipment where it lay as they fled. One of the commissioners saw a hoof, as it was about to kick out the flame of his candle. Drawing his sword to strike the “beast”, invisible hands knocked the weapon from his grasp, and then knocked him out with a single blow.

After that incident, the commissioners decided to give up their task and left Woodstock, declaring that “all the fiends of hell had been let loose on them”. No more was heard of the poltergeist, although the Puritans always avoided the Manor House after that and it was considered haunted for the remaining days of the Commonwealth.

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