“I first visited incomparable Claydon in 1962...”
“… at the invitation of Sir Harry Verney...”
“… whose family had owned land at Claydon since the fifteenth century.”
“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.”
The signet ring contained a miniature portrait of Charles I.
“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…”
Sir Harry Calvert Williams Verney, 4th Bt
© National Portrait Gallery
“… who showed it to me when I was there in 1962…”
“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.’
“It cannot but be interesting to observe that,
according to Sir Harry Verney…”
“… the same figure was seen in the same place
nearly a century earlier…”
“Sir Harry told me of John Webb, the… carpenter who assisted with the demolition...”
“… of the enormous ballroom that was pulled down some years before...”
“He had been working among the rubble when he chanced to look up…”
“… and saw a strangely dressed man standing nearby
looking sadly at the devastation...”
“When the carpenter called out to the man…the figure disappeared…”
“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…”
for his lost hand…”
“… I am sure he would treat his ancestor courteously and sympathetically should he ever do so…”
Gazetteer of British Ghosts
'Middle Claydon, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire'
This Haunted Isle
'Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire'
Journey into Witchcraft