“I first visited incomparable Claydon in 1962 at the invitation of Sir Harry Verney...”
Claydon House is located in Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, near the village of Middle Claydon.
Sir Harry Verney, 4th Baronet, DSO (1881 - 1974)
“Delightful Claydon House, built in 1768, and standing in its own open parkland, has several ghosts...”
“…including Sir Edmund Verney, the King’s Standard Bearer at the battle of Edgehill in 1642…”
Anthony van Dyck; Portrait of Sir Edmund Verney [1596 - 1642] (circa 1640)
“…who walks here looking for his hand which was buried in the family vault.”
A standard-bearer is someone who bears a standard (i.e. a flag) which is used as a visual symbol of a state, prince, military unit, etc.
Verney was an English politician and soldier.
He was a favourite of King Charles I.
Verney was killed at the outbreak of the English Civil War at the Battle of Edgehill.
Oliver Cromwell played a leading role in bringing Charles I to trial and to execution.
His rise in English politics led to him to take control of Parliament following the English Civil War.
(Cromwell leads an attack against the Royalists.)
“When Cromwell’s men captured Sir Edmund on the battlefield they demanded that he give up the colours…”
“…but he refused, saying:
‘My life is my own, but my Standard is the King’s’...”
“…so he was killed…”
“But when the Roundheads* came to take the Standard from his hand…”
*Supporters of Cromwell were known as 'Roundheads'.
“…they could not unlock his death grip, and they cut off his hand with its signet ring…”
“Later in the battle the Standard was recaptured by the King…”
“…Sir Edmund’s hand still grasping it…”
“…his hand was sent home and was interred in the family vault at Claydon.”
“When the family vault was opened some years previously,
there was no coffin for Sir Edmund…”
“…only a casket large enough to take a hand...”
“The ring was removed and is now in the possession of the present baronet, Sir Harry Verney…”
“…who showed it to me when I was there in 1962…”
The signet ring contained a miniature portrait of Charles I.
“Sir Harry had taken the trouble to obtain a written account of an apparition seen by his sister on the red staircase…
The ‘Red Stairs’ at Claydon House, where the ghost of Sir Edmund Verney is reputed to have been seen.
‘…it must have been about 1892, when I was thirteen…'
‘…that I ran up the Red Stairs at Claydon House…’
‘…and I noticed a man. He was tall and wore a long black cloak, beneath the hem of which peeped the tip of his sword…’
‘…he carried a black hat with a white feather gracefully curled round the crown.
That was all I saw.’”
“Sir Harry Verney keeps an open mind on the question of ghosts, and although he hasn’t encountered the wraith of Sir Edmund wandering about, looking for his lost hand,
I am sure he would treat his ancestor courteously and sympathetically should he ever do so…”
Underwood wrote about Woburn Abbey in the entry 'Middle Claydon, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire’ in his Gazetteer of British Ghosts (1971).