Date: Sat, 10 Oct 1998 12:02:05 +0100
From: “C.J.Huff” (C.J.Huff@durham.ac.uk)
Subject: Washington Old Hall, Washington England.
Hello there from the Uk where we are actually having a decent day for a change.
Don’t know if you want this one but I thought I would give electronic publishing a go for a change.
The attached account of the paranormal activities at Washington Old Hall, whilst a known haunting in the area, does not seem to be widely known about.
I am an investigator with ASSAP based in the NE of England and currently a Postgrad at Durham.
WASHINGTON OLD HALL. WASHINGTON VILLAGE. ENGLAND.
Situated: 5 miles West of Sunderland and 6 miles south of Newcastle upon Tyne, just off A1231 in Washington Village. (NZ. 313565)
Category: National Trust. Open to the Public at certain times.
Originally a wooden Saxon Hall mentioned in a charter of 973, the first stone hall at Washington was built in 1183 by William de Hertburne, who became William de Washington upon gaining the lands at Wessington -now Washington Village. The Washingtons had as their arms a white shield upon which were two bars and three stars in red, and are the original Washington family from which the more famous George Washington was later to spring.
A vestigial fragment of this medieval hall is visible in the internal wall between the kitchen and the adjoining hall where two central arches separated by a central pillar form an entranece to the kitchens. In the early 1400s the Hall passed to the Mallory family where it stayed until in 1613 the hall was bought by William James, the Bishop of Durham. It was he who rebuilt much of the hall, drastically altering it to its present form by pulling down much of its original fabric.
The present Hall is a medium sized 17th century building, with a symmetrical frontage, which faces the church. However the Hall started to fall into a state of decline having tennants instead of owners, in the census for 1891 there were recorded to be 35 persons living in the hall which was partitioned into family units. By 1936 the building was considered to be unfit for habitation, but fortunately it was rescued before it had decayed too much to preserve. Much work by individuals, most especially Frederick Hill the teacher at the nearby school, in raising both awareness of the importance of the building and funds led to its preservation.The Old Hall in Washington is now owned by the National Trust who have done much to restore the Jacobean period interior of the building and are in the process of restoring the gardens.
The Hall is reputedly haunted by the ghost of a grey lady who walks the corridors of the upper floor, variously described as wearing a long flowing grey dress, and in some tales is seen weeping. When the Hall was used as a tennement the apparition was mostly seen by the children, one tale from this period relates how a child asked its mother who the lady was who was weeping in the room, the child had of course seen the grey lady.
On a visit to the hall in August 1998 details of recent paranormal occurrances were related by the curatorial staff, Edith Dawson, Kate Gardner, and Anne Hurst who all asserted that there had been the strong smell of lavender perfume in 1997 and 1998, emanating from the areas of the stairs and in the entrance hallway. Another incident concerned a young woman with children who having taken the children out of the hall soon returned to say thet there was a definite presence there, especially in the great Hall. She asserted that the hall had the feel of a church, although she was unaware that the building is used as a wedding venue, and that the spirit seeme to like watching the ceremonies in the hall. Kate Gardner also related the tale of when she was talking to one of the caterers in the upstairs room, the caterer was looking past her at a figure in the room. There was of course nobody there. Whilst Ms Gardner has often stayed in the house overnight, she has not seen the apparition of the grey Lady
Chris Huff (ASSAP) 1998.