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One of the finest houses of the era, and still in the occupation of the famous Lyttelton Family. The current house was built between 1754, and 1760, by the 1st Baron Frankley, George Lyttelton. He had been born in a previous house somewhere on the estate. Long associated with the top notch of society and Government, the family has many acolades to it's name, and a fine record of service to the country. It does though, have a few dark little secrets, one of which is the famous " Lyttelton Ghost ". This story is centred around the 2nd Baron, Thomas Lyttelton, born in 1744, altogether a different character than his illustrious father. Where his father had the title " Good Lord Lyttelton ", Thomas aquired one, the complete opposite, being called " Bad Lord Lyttelton ". The family had land at Frankley, Hagley, and Upper Arley, were well off, and the young Thomas was indugled, and possibly spoiled by all the wealth. He was attracted to the party life, became a man about town, ( London of course ) which included a great many Lady friends. In 1768, he became, through his fathers immense patronage, M.P. for Bewdley, Worcestershire. This didn't last long, as he was acused, very shortly after he took up the seat in Parliament, of Bribery. To avoid further scandal, he was sent abroad, from whence any of his activities would be unlikely to be heard. In 1772, his father died and he came back to take up the title, which was confirmed in 1773. This was the year he also got married, and again he did not follow an easy path, the bride being a widow, a Mrs Peach. Then it was off on a grand tour by way of a honeymoon, but not with his bride, he took along a London Barmaid he had taken a fancy to. Having been thrown out of Parliament, he was now entitled to sit in the House of Lords, and, being a popular sort of scalliwag, he was appointed Chief Justice of Ireland in 1775. They did not however, grant him the seals of Office, which of course got up his nose a little, and he bagan to speak in the Lords against the Government. He was subject to bouts of depression throughout his life, and surrounded himself with friends for most of his waking hours. As well as Hagley Hall, he inherited two other houses, Pitt House at Epsom, and a rather grander house in Hill Street, Berkley Square. It was at Epsom though where the Ghost tory started.
On the 24th November, 1779, he reported to the household and his friends, that he had been visited by a vision, ( or ghost ) that he described as a woman in white, and/or, a Robin Red Breast. Now in ancient folklore, this bird was credited with bringing tidings of bad news, and sure enough, he claimed, the woman had foretold that he would dead in just three days. This story spread around his friends, who included Doctor Johnson, ( of dictionary fame ) and Horace Walpole. ( Prime Minister of the day ) He treated it all as a joke, but confessed to being disturbed by the horrible dreams he was having about a certain Elizabeth Brownrigg. ( She had been recently hanged for thrashing to death a 14 year old apprentice ) On the night of the 27th, he was at Epsom with some of his friends, ( mostly young and attractive women ) and retiring for the land of nod, asked his Valet, for his usual concoction of a Rhubard Drink. ( apparently a cure for what he suffered from. ?? ) He was sitting up in bed when he sent the Valet off to fetch a spoon to stir it with, and when he returned, Lord Lyttelton was breathing his last breath. The time it was said was exactly midnight, and bang on the time predicted by the Robin/Woman in his vision. At the same time, and many miles away, in Dartford, Kent, his friend, Miles Andrews MP, the owner of the Powder Mills, was awoken from his slumbers by a presence in his bedroom. He swore it was Lord Lyttelton, pulling back the cutains, and so convinced was he of what he saw, he summoned his servants to get a room ready for his unexpected guest. When he turned round however, the apperition had vanished. The story was well attested to by a great many people, and appeared in print, both during the three days he had left, and after his death. There are some who have suggested, that Lord Lyttelton, who had been unwell for some time, planned the whole thing as some elaborate joke, to mask his own suicide. Now if he had a large family, that would make some sense, but as he died without issue, and the title went into a short disuse, no sense at all. That his illness was more serious than was believed, would fit the bill better, and his nightime dreams were in fact hellucinations induced by the illness. Or did he really see the Robin of Folklore.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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