Bisham Abbey was our second event for Antony Nolan raising £3900 for the charity.
There is a wealth of reported paranormal activity at Bisham Abbey
There are reports of monks in the grounds, an elemental by the lake ponds, and a ghostly old woman in a row boat, and other ghosts that cannot be identified. Little is recorded about these, however, the lady in the boat was witnessed by Two schoolboys. They claimed to have witnessed her ghost sitting in a rowing boat on the river Thames which flows at the foot of the picturesque mansions grounds, as the boys approached her apparition and the boat vanished.
Following Henry VIII’s hostile takeover of Bisham Abbey, the house was passed to , Anne of Cleves, his 4th wife as part of a very lucrative settlement, which included Hever Castle, Richmond Palace and Anne of Cleves House, in Lewes. She reportedly swapped it for Westhorpe in Suffolk, with Sir Phillip Hoby. When he died, he had no children, so the house passed to Sir Thomas Hoby, the man who was responsible for the custody of Elizabeth I during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor. Queen Elizabeth appointed him as ambassador to France. He died when his children were very small, and their education was passed to perhaps the most famous character in the history of Bisham Abbey- Lady Elizabeth Hoby
Lady Elizabeth Hoby is perhaps the most well documented character in the history of Bisham Abbey. She was a very proud and ambitious person- almost to the point of fanaticism. As a perfectionist, she oversaw the education of her children, to ensure they had the same rigorous education as she had done.
Elizabeth’s son Edward inherited the house after her death. Following his death, his brother Thomas should have been heir to the property. He had an illegitimate son, Peregrine who inherited the property. Thomas did not object, so Peregrine became the owner. Following Peregrine’s death, his second son John took over, followed by 2 successions of Thomases. The latter has no children, so it passed to his brother, followed by a cousin on his Mother’s side.
After the long ownership by the Hoby Family, the house was purchased by Geroge Vansittart, and his family faired little better at the hands of the curse. He was succeeded by his 2nd grandson, also George, who died with no children, so the house passed to his cousin Edward. At the end of the 19th Century, Vice-Admiral Edward Westby Vansittart was the owner of Bisham Abbey, and he ridiculed the presence of the paranormal in the house, until one evening, something changed his mind… After the ownership of the Vansittart family, the house was purchased by the UK’s National Sports Centres.
The Knights Templar
There has been a religious site here since about 1260, when there was a community house for the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Knights Templar. Founded in 1099 by St Bernard of Clairvaux, these monks were charged with escorting pilgrims to the holy land, and ensuring safe passage, and were recognised by their emblem- a splayed Red Cross, which was adopted in 1146. The Templars are perhaps best known for their support of the Second Crusade in 1148. The Knights Templar were involved in a lot of political matters in England, notably their involvement in the attempts to reconcile the differences between Henry II and Thomas Becket. Although started as a poor order, they soon became a wealthy order, which didn’t go by undetected, and in 1263, Prince Edward entered the Knights Templar Temple in London, and ransacked the treasury. However, in 1271, when Edward led a Crusade, and was attacked by an assasin with a poisoned knife, he was only saved by drugs sent by the Master of the Knights Templar, Thomas Bérard. The Knights Templar ceased to be a strong fighting force in 1291, when they suffered a huge defeat at Acre. After recruiting more Knights, these were wiped out at Raud. The major downturn commenced on 11th October 1307, following a request for a loan from the Templars by King Phillip IV of France, which was refused, causing the Templars to remove so me of their wealth from France and transport it to Scotland, where they were granted sanctuary by Robert the Bruce, who had also been excommunicated by the Pope. On Friday 13th October 1307, hundreds of Knights Templar were summoned to Paris, 620 were arrested and thrown in Jail, charged with Heresy (incidentally, the only crime that would allow him to seize their wealth and assets), hence the origin of Friday 13th. Many confessed after torture.Following this, the decline of the Knights Templar carried on apace, with Pope Clement V launching enquiries against the knights, causing thousands of arrests all across Europe. It is almost certain that some of those who lived here would have been among those tortured, and executed, many being burned at the stake, including the leader of the templar, Jacques De Molay. As he burned, he cursed King Philip and Pope Clement, asking both to join him within a year. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but Pope Clement was dead within the month, and Philip IV joined them 7 months later. It is widely believed that the surviving templars joined with Robert the Bruce, and were involved in the battle of Bannockburn, forever granting Scotland it’s independence.
Following the departure by the templars, King Edward II siezed Bisham Abbey, and used it as a luxurious gaol for imprisoning dignaries. Notable ‘prisoners’ include Queen Elizabeth of the Scots (wife of Robert the Bruce), along with her stepdaughter and sister in law. Elizabeth was imprisoned in Bisham for about 4 years, until she was moved to the more secure surroundings of Windsor Castle. The abbey was passed to the Barons Monacute in 1335, who eventually became the Earls of Salisbury. Bisham Abbey became their home for about 200 years. The private apartments to the East of the old hall were probably built by Willam Monacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury in the late 14th Century. The last abbot, well, the only Abbot, was Abbot John Cordery, one of an order of Benedictine Monks who were handed the abbey for only 6 months. In 1536, the occupants were evicted- however, they did not go quietly. Abbot John Cordery was dragged kicking and screaming from the High Altar. Legend has it that he cursed Bisham Abbey whilst being removed with the words “As God is my witness, this property shall ne’er be inherited by two direct successors, for its sons will be hounded by misfortune.” Since the dissolution of the monasteries, the manor house at Bisham has carried the title of Bisham Abbey. Although the Abbot’s Curse has appeared to hold true for the vast majority of the house’s ownership, it is more likely to have been invented a lot later to explain actual events.