It is true that Basing House often hosts English Civil War re-enactment weekends in the grounds where past bloody battles have taken place. However, aside from these re-enactment weekends there are no persons in 17th century era attire supposedly on site…
A site of historical horror
In 1644, Lord Edward Paulet, the younger brother of John Paulet, 5th Marquess of Winchester, was secretly meeting with Parliamentary forces to discuss the surrender of Basing House. This was an attempt to ensure the safety of his men and to avoid any further bloodshed. However, this meant going against his brother who was a loyal royalist in support of Charles I and had fortified his grand home turning it back into a castle during the Civil War. John had defended Basing House during the first siege a year earlier but the battles over power in Britain were getting bloodier and the tides of the war were starting to turn in favour of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians.
In the spring of 1644, Lord Edward's secret negotiations with Commander William Waller were discovered. Lord Edward was court martialled and banished from Basing House but his fellow conspirators suffered a far worse fate. They were captured and sentenced to death by hanging. On the day of the execution, the scaffold was erected on the ground outside the main entrance of Basing House and the conspirators marched out for final prayers on their knees on the green before their execution.
The terrors and horrors of the English Civil War did not end at Basing until 1645 with the final bloody siege and burning flames that took over 300 lives.
One lovely sunny afternoon not so long ago, a visitor reportedly said to her husband: "did you see the re-enactors kneeing on the lawn?" to which he replied: "no". The visitors searched the grounds for the 're-enactors' but they were nowhere to be found...
This is not the only sighting of disappearing 're-enactors' in the grounds of Basing House. Many visitors have reported seeing a 17th century maid walking away from the ruins entrance to never be found, whilst others have caught sight of a parliamentary solider walking along the road on the corner of the street leading to the Great Barn. The mystery of these 're-enactors' has never been explained.
If you have enjoyed Culture on Call and you are able to make a donation, any support you can give will help us keep people connected.