Hampton House - HauntedHouses.com
Built just 10 miles North of Baltimore,
in Towson, Maryland, on an estate of originally 2000 acres.
Towson, Maryland 21204.
Description and History:
Hampton House was the dream mansion
of Charles Ridgely, a very successful businessman who started building it in 1772 and
completed it in 1790, just before Charles died. Hampton House is thought
to be the largest and most magnificent Georgian mansion of the post-Revolutionary
War. Six state champion trees, a huge terraced garden, and over twenty
buildings, including slave quarters give visitors a glimpse of the layout
of a great slave estate.
The master carpenter, Jehu Howell,
is credited with much of the design. The mansion has a 2 and a half story
main section, which is capped
with a cupola and flanked with one story wings. Charles' nephew, Charles
Carnan Ridgely, who was the governor of Maryland, (1815-1818), added several
ambitious improvements, such as beautiful, vast, formal gardens, improved
landscaping, and top-notch horse stables. This impressive mansion was
the scene of elaborate, dinner parties for the state's important government
people and friends. It was good that the place was so big, because Mr.
& Mrs. Charles Ridgely had eleven children.
Throughout the years, well into the
20th century, various members of the Ridgely family lived there on the
property. The family kept the estate in the family by selling off parcels
of land, opening a dairy supplying milk to local schools, and pressing
apples into cider.
family owned this grand mansion until 1948, when the Avalon Foundation
bought Hampton House, who then in turn eventually gave it to the federal
government. Because of Hampton House's outstanding architectural merit,
mansion and 60 acres are designated a national historic site in 1948.
John Ridgely Jr. and his wife continued to live at Hampton, residing in
the farmhouse.The mansion was opened for tours for the first time.
In 1979, The National Park Service
took over administration of the mansion and its surviving 60 acres.
Hampton House has three known ghosts,
2 unknown ghosts, and has a hiThe story of three unexplained psychic phenomena.
1) Priscilla Ridgely, who was the wife
of Charles Carnan Ridgely, suffered from constant, mental depression,
took little interest in their 11 children, and spent a lot of time in
seclusion up in her room, away from everyone. As time went on, she became
more and more mentally unbalanced. She died a very unhappy woman.
a) She has been seen at Hampton House,
dressed in a gray gown, wandering through the vast hallways, passages,
and various rooms, places where she shied from during her painful
life. She seems to be searching for the happiness she couldn't find
when she was alive. She has been seen by visitors, family members,
and the Hampton House National Park Staff.
b) Many years after Priscilla
died, a new bride of one of her descendants heard a faint, weak tapping
at the front door. Opening the door, she found a "thin, frail
woman," dressed only in a plain dress and cap, with no coat,
peering longingly through the opened door. The compassionate, kind
young bride immediately invited this confused, wistful woman in to
warm herself by the large fire in the fireplace. The woman quickly
turned and vanished into thin air, right in front of the very surprised
2) Cygnet Swann - Who lived in the
1800s was the blue-eyed, blond hair, young daughter of Governor Swann.
After surviving a serious illness, she came to stay at Hampton House,
to fully recover in the country air. Governor Swann's wife, Eliza, adored
young Cygnet. One morning, Cygnet came to breakfast, looking very pale,
exhausted, with her hair matted, tangled around her face. She told Eliza
about her terrifying dream, about being chased around a wheat field
by a horrid man with a scythe, telling her he was going to kill her,
one way or another. Eliza, trying to comfort the child, told her it
was just a dream, and had her relax on the porch. That night Eliza staged
a ball to cheer up young Cygnet. When she didn't come down to join the
party, a servant found her slumped over her dressing table, clutching
her hair brush, dead. Her death was called "mysterious" by
Child's Guest Room
a) Cygnet has been seen by visitors,
family members, and the National Park Staff over the years in her
old northwest bedroom, sitting in her satin ball gown, combing her
beautiful blond hair.
b) Harpsichord music has been
heard coming from Cygnet's bedroom.
3) Tom, the Faithful Butler - Was
born at Hampton House, and served the Ridgely family faithfully his
whole life. He died around late 1890s -1900. It seems that he didn't
want to retire.
a) On a cold, January afternoon, during
the 1920s or 30s, a young woman, fascinated by historical houses,
decided to take the Ridgely's up on their offer to "drop in anytime."
A "formerly dressed butler" answered the door. He told her
that although the family was gone for the day, he would be glad to
show her around. As he proceeded with the tour, he told her great
details of the family history, identified family portraits and told
stories of the people in them, which amazed and delighted his avid
listener, who appreciated his devotion and his knowledge. When she
tried to tip him, he told her that "I need for nothing."
Several days later, she called Mrs. Ridgely on the phone. Much to
her surprise, she learned from Mrs. Ridgely, that currently there
was no butler. Mrs. Ridgely identified the mysterious tour guide as
being that of old Tom, who had served them for many years, but died
thirty years ago.
4) Unknown Ghost # 1 - Over the
years, this specter is fond of roaming around the mansion, around midnight,
opening doors. Family members, guests, and Hampton House National Park
Service personnel have heard latches lifted, bolts withdrawn, doors
opened, and the scrape of the iron bar that opens the main door to the
Great Hall. When checked, nothing has been moved.
Stables and Tack Room
5) Unknown Ghost #2 The old tack
room was rated the noisiest and busiest by Hampton House Park employees.
In a room where the windows and doors are kept tightly closed, Rangers
has heard chains being beaten against the walls, and when they check
out the racket, they find that the saddles and harnesses are swinging
merrily back and forth on the pegs in the walls as well. Some experts
say that it may well be Jehu Howell, the original carpenter of Hampton
House, who is haunting the tack room. In November of 1787, after being
paid for work rendered, $6,000 and 68 quarts of rum, he got himself
roaring drunk, and rode his horse into a rain-swollen creek, where he
and the horse drowned.
The Great Hall
1) The National Park Service learned
that one of the unseen inhabitants of Hampton House does not approve
of setting up exhibitions in the Great Hall. When the Great Hall was
used for an exhibition, a Ranger on duty in the middle of the night
was brought running to the Great Hall by a terrifying crash. He discovered
that all the display racks had been thrown against the floor.
2) Haunted Chandeliers - Over the
150 years that the Ridgely family lived at Hampton, the deaths of the
first ladies were foretold, when the dreaded crash of the chandelier
was heard, though it really didn't fall. This happened one Easter to
the fifth Mrs. Ridgely. She died 24 hours after this phenomena.
3) When the Master of Hampton House
died away from home, his soul arrived home in a ghostly coach. While
Charles Ridgely 1V was on vacation in Italy, the caretaker of Hampton
House was awakened one cold, snowy night by the tingling of sleigh bells
and thudding hooves, like a coach was arriving. When she looked out
the door, nothing was there, and the snow wasn't disturbed. When the
news arrived the next day of Charles Ridgely's death, the family was
already in mourning.
However, the official statement from
the National Park Service insists that the place isn't haunted, though
individuals who work there and psychics who visit claim that it is.