Ghostly encounters at West Horsley Place

I am not the bravest of people when it comes to ghost stories and yet I enjoy a good ghost story.  I have written previously about my maternal grandmother who was the teller of a good story despite outwardly declaring she had no belief in them which made her stories a) more believable and b) more scary.  I also like a good tv programme about ghosts, especially if they are a comedy and the BBC series 'Ghosts' is a firm favourite.

As is my usual habit, when watching anything I enjoy, I tend to be looking at garden glimpses whenever I can.  After a few garden glimpses I start wondering where something is filmed and is it open to visit.  Ghosts is filmed at West Horsley Place and yes, you can visit for all sorts of exciting events.

It is a bit of a schlep from where I live: around two and a half hours drive (M25 dependent) but I was determined to go.  I enlisted my fellow ghost loving brother to join me and the day was planned.  We would find somewhere good to have lunch and then have an afternoon of Ghosts-geeky fun.  (Lunch was at the Duke of Wellington in East Horsley - I highly recommend it.).
Even before we have reached the house I am predictably plant spotting.  I think this is a Magnolia grandiflora.  
This garden by the stables is absolutely charming.  How wonderful to live on site.  I had serious home envy.
We get to the house and there is another M. grandiflora.  To be honest if I see no more plants I am already more than happy.
The house is Grade 1 listed including the two matching dog kennels that mirror the door.  If you look closely you can see there is a stone water bowl in front.  
If you are a Ghosts fan the best thing about visiting West Horsley Place is that it is all filmed in and around the house.  There are no studio sets, they use/adapt/remodel rooms and spaces around the house.
So you will find their sofa.
You will find Lady Fanny's window.
You will find Lady Fanny.
and you will get so excited listening to the tour and looking at the wonderful things you will forget to take a lot of indoor photos.  This is good, this means you get to find out for yourself you if go and visit.  I will give you no spoilers either, I would not wish to spoil the TV magic.
Though I did get obsessed by the library and the general amount of books in the house.  There are books everywhere and apparently they have donated over 7000 books to another library. 
and what great books there are.
There were gardening books so the gardens have been loved.
and who knew Lady Jane Grey had sisters?  (don't say anyone with the internet/an interest in history).

The house itself has a fascinating history.  Start with that how Bamber Gascoigne inherited the house is very similar to how Alison in Ghosts inherits the house.  He did not know he was going to inherit this wonderful place though he did know it was in the family and had visited.

Go back further.  West Horsley Place was owned by Carew Raleigh, son of Sir Walter Raleigh and the last known place of Sir Walter's head.  They are not sure where it is now: is it in a cupboard, is it in the local graveyard?

The house is much older than you might think, with a pre-this building history going back to 1066 and the house itself in its oldest parts dating back to the 15th century.
The house, which is in the process of being restored, has many treasures such as this incredible Elizabethan ceiling.  When Bamber inherited the house it was in quite a state of disrepair.  Rather than selling it he decided to turn it into a trust and use it to promote arts and crafts.  There is an opera house in the back garden now.  Money from film/TV work obviously helps hugely and it has been used in several films (Enola Holmes) and TV including The Crown.

But I was there for the garden (well and to be a Ghost nerd obvs.)  As said the house was in disrepair when inherited so it is no surprise that the gardens had become unloved too.  Priority has to be to get the house restored and I have seen that they are working on the gardens too.  They are currently looking to create a sensory garden - oh if only I lived closer....
There is a small, private garden tucked into the house, which has this magnificent Medlar tree.  It looks really quite old and is of course totally fitting in an Elizabethan house.  Elizabeth I herself visited the house (twice) so did she eat medlar jelly made from this tree I wonder?
There is also this, I am going to suggest a bit ugly, pond.  It needs repair as it will not hold water but I do wonder what the purpose of it was?  It is so rectangular it feels functional rather than decorative.  Answers on a postcard.....?

There are impressive gates into the main garden.
and if they had a ghostly gardener, then their garden roller is there ready for them.
There is a fantastic old orchard by the side of the house.  The walled garden is seven acres (seven acres!!!).
We paused at the old well.
and then I started getting excited by their 'crinkle crankle wall'.
It is a thing of beauty and shone in the early autumn sun.
There might have been some unseemly excitement at seeing Thomas's tree,
and Mary's alcove.
There were glimpses of what the formal gardens might have looked like in their hey-day.
and I enjoyed seeing the rose garden. 
There was far too much excitement at going to see Pat's stump.  

The day was totally stolen by the appearance of one of the stars.
Dante.  'nuff said.

We had the best of days, the sun shone, the tour was wonderfully led by our guides.  We learned alot about Ghosts but also about this incredible house.  We are definitely booking next year to join one of the history tours.

If you don't watch Ghosts then do.  If you are really old like I am and remember the ITV children's series The Ghosts of Motley Hall, then watch Ghosts.  It is not the same and yet for me it has the same joy.  Oh and now I have to mention Rentaghost, because it is rude not to.

Take care and be kind.

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