So you fancy a change of scene after months stuck inside that cramped apartment. Well, a 22-bedroom Georgian mansion has just gone on the market in Ireland – and it comes with its fair share of compelling stories.
But, inevitably, there’s a significant catch. Ever since a visit from the devil in the late-eighteenth century, they say Loftus Hall has become the ‘most haunted house’ in the whole country.
Legend has it a dark stranger had approached the hall on horseback after his ship was forced to dock at nearby Slide harbour on the Hook peninsula in south-east Ireland. Much to their later regret, then-owners the well-to-do Tottenham family waved him in to shelter the night there.
Photograph: Loftus Hall
Young Lady Anne Tottenham was very taken with the new arrival. Infatuated, in fact. But one night, while playing a game together, she dropped one of her cards, stooped down and noticed he had cloven hoofs instead of feet. He then shot through the roof in a ball of smoke. She was so shocked she never recovered, and died a couple of years later.
To this day, that mysterious figure’s presence is said to haunt the 27,000-square-foot building, which was later exorcised by a catholic priest (with some success, apparently, although nothing could be done about the tapestry room where Lady Anne had tried to recuperate). There are now regular ghost tours and timely-sounding ‘paranormal lockdown’ nights.
Photograph: Loftus Hall
The first castle on the site, near the town of Wexford, was built by a Norman knight in 1170, and the foundations of the current building date back to 1350. It became known as Loftus Hall after it was handed to the Loftus family as part of the Cromwellian conquest in the mid-seventeenth century.
Since then, it’s had several different owners, including two orders of nuns. The building was heavily renovated in the nineteenth century by the fourth Marquess of Ely, John Wellington Graham Loftus, who added a grand staircase and some striking parquet floors.
These days, the chilling reputation perseveres. And now, post-lockdown, its current owners, the Quigleys, have decided to put the house on the market, alongside their 63 acres of land and a private beach.
Unsurprisingly, all that history comes with a steep price tag: currently, €2.5 million (£2.28 million, $2.89 million, A$4.1 million). But split that between 22 friends, with a bedroom each, and Loftus Hall starts to sound like a very good deal. If you don’t mind ghosts for extra company, that is...
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