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ASTON HALL

WHAT WE LEARNED

Words written and PDFs created by our project researcher, Lydia Richmond

Originally built by the Holte family as their family estate in the early Jacobean period (c. 17th Century), Aston Hall is full of spine-chilling tales of murder, tragedy, civil war and- perhaps most peculiarly- freak circus accidents! So beware the following tales are not for the faint-hearted.

 

One of the most infamous residents of the Hall is its original owner Sir Thomas Holte who garnered a, not undeserved, reputation as a dangerous man. In the Holte family’s previous residence Sir Thomas killed his cook with a meat cleaver, but that is only the start of his misdeeds! It is said after his daughter refused to marry the man of his choosing he locked her in the attic of Aston hall, where rumours suggest she either starved to death, died from falling down the stairs, or went mad! There were further troubles in the Holte family as Sir Thomas’ eldest son was also disinherited for marrying a woman without his father’s permission, Sir Thomas was so enraged by it the King had to get involved to try and persuade him to rebuild the family relationships. Sir Thomas’ reputation was so violent that some have suggested the red hand present on his coat of arms is because of all the blood on his hands. Perhaps the discord between the family could, and did, serve as motive for murder in the country house? 

Things were not easy for outsiders of the Holte family in Aston Hall either, in its hay-day the house would have employed around 40 servants, all of who were at the mercy of their strict master Sir Thomas. It is said the attic is haunted by the ghost of a servant boy named Dick Garret, who died there out of fear, waiting for punishment from Sir Thomas after he stole from the kitchens. 

 

In more recent history the house was turned into a museum and opened in the 1800s by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, a circus was present on the site, funds from which went to the running of the museum. Unfortunately tragedy struck the circus as well, a tightrope walker fell to her death during one of her performances and chaos ensued when a lion named Nero escaped from his cage and ran rampant around the park. Perhaps this is all due to terrible luck, or could there be a curse on the site?…   

 

The dingy attic, dark kitchens, and spooky towers of the Hall could all serve as fitting backdrops to any murder mystery.

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All photography © Ben Gregory-Ring