Isolated on the Hook Peninsula in Wexford, the once stately Loftus Hall is said to have been haunted by the devil and by the ghost of a young woman. This year the house is celebrating its 666th birthday with a series of spooky events.
The mansion, with a history of ghostly occurrences and misery, opened its doors to the public for the first time in 30 years in 2012. Would you be brave enough to take the tour?
In August 2014 a tourist snapped a shot of a ghostly female figure in the grounds. Thomas Beavis, 21, from Lewisham, snapped this shot while he was on the the tour.
It wasn’t until he’d left the Loftus Hall grounds that he noticed the figure – who is believed to be the spirit of little Anne Tottenham – and the face of an old lady at the window.
Loftus Hall is a 22-bedroom period mansion on Hook Peninsula in County Wexford. The house is set on 60 acres, overlooking a lonely stretch of the southeast coast. Since it was abandoned over three decades ago, the grand building has only had structural repairs.
Owner Aidan Quigley now hosts guided interactive tours, which he says are not for the fainthearted.
Built over the remains of Redmond Hall, and home of the Redmond family since around 1350, in 1666 it became the home of the Loftus family and was renamed Loftus Hall.
The ghostly tours are based on the story of Anne Tottenham and a visitor to the house in the 18th century whose body, during a game of cards, went ‘through the roof’, leaving a hole in the ceiling which is visible to this day, and left young Anne in a state of terror.
She was put into a room known as the Tapestry Room to rest, and it is here that she stayed completely silent until her death in 1775. The Loftus family abandoned the house in the early years of the 20th century.
Over the years since, servants claimed to have seen a dark, mysterious figure roaming the halls, causing disturbances.
On March 1 Quigley unveiled a new program of events for Loftus Hall’s 666th anniversary year, including an incremental restorative walled garden project launch, the opening of a new interactive visitors center and the Raymond Le Gros Norman Festival.
Quigley and his family purchased the Hall in 2011 and have been working on reviving and consolidating it as a unique tourist destination ever since.
“We didn’t have a blank canvas, as such, to work with when we purchased Loftus Hall, as it came with over 600 years of history, intrigue and some rather unexplained spectral phenomenon. However, we were determined to make the Hall’s 666th year rather special with a broad appeal to people of all ages and interests,” Quigley said.
Whilst Loftus Hall has provided hugely successful house tours and paranormal investigation lockdowns, particularly popular at Halloween, Aidan and his team are determined to showcase the other elements of the hall.
“The gardens and grounds of the hall are hugely significant. In the 17th century Henry Loftus took great care in enclosing the gardens to preserve newly planted fruit trees with high stone walls,” said Quigley. “We plan to progressively restore the five-acre garden in the spirit of the period and aim to plant trees, flowers and shrubs that would have been available to Henry Loftus in the 17th century. Fortunately, the walls are in a reasonable state of repair and some of the original garden ornaments remain on the property.”
Quigley also revealed the plans for the new visitor center which will open to the public on June 6. The new center will give visitors the opportunity to discover more about the fascinating heritage of Loftus Hall. A historical timeline will chart key moments in the hall’s history, such as the invasion by Norman knight Raymond Le Gros, the Redmonds’ Cromwellian battle, and the 4th Marquess of Ely’s extensive renovations in anticipation of a visit by Queen Victoria.
Quigley, who is currently in his final year of a Conservation and Restoration Diploma, is focused on broadening the historical appeal of the area and is working closely with Wexford County Council, The Three Sisters Bid Team and Failte Ireland’s Ireland’s Ancient East initiative to showcase the culture and appeal of Wexford.
“Wexford has a rich and varied offering, it’s coastal and rugged, lush and beautiful, historical and contemporary. By working together with local authorities, tourism providers and neighboring counties, Wexford and the southeast has the potential to become the go-to tourist destination for national and overseas visitors.”
“If we, collectively, can offer an experience that is unique, exciting, fresh and appealing, the region is destined to flourish.”
The six new events taking place in Loftus Hall during its 666th year are:
- The walled garden project launch (March 19 to April 3)
- The historical house tour launch (April 30 to May 2)
- Opening of the visitors center (June 6)
- Loftus Hall’s birthday celebrations (July 16 and 17)
- The Raymond Le Gros Norman Festival (September 3 and 4)
- Halloween at the Hall (October 21 to November 6)
For more visit www.loftushall.ie.