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Carnfield Hall - Derbyshire, Derbyshire

Carnfield Hall is a real haunted house. Hidden amongst the trees of Carnfield Wood in the Derbyshire countryside, this old Hall dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries, where it began life as a country manor house and still retains so much of its original history. This haunted house is riffed with paranormal activity. The ghosts and spirits that roam here certainly make themselves known. It is so haunted that those who have spent time inside the Hall become pretty used to the ghostly phenomena here. Old wooden staircases, a large attic, a drawing room, a library and haunted bedrooms await anybody who wants to ghost hunt at this formidable location. The upstairs parlour has always been a hive of paranormal activity, and you can often hear harpsichord music emanating from here, along with the shuffling sound of somebody moving around. There are myths of death, particularly the slaying of The Squire, Robert Revell, who had been found murdered in his bed. In this room, you often hear furniture being shifted when nobody is there. Nobody stays in this room for long as things are said to move. 

History of Carnfield Hall 

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Carnfield Hall is a country house dating from the 15th and 16th Centuries, standing in its ancient deer park and surrounding woods, 1½ miles from junction 28 of the M1 on the Derbyshire/ Nottinghamshire border.

Known initially as Carlingthwaite, an old Norse Viking for “an old woman’s clearing”, it passed to the Babington family in the 15th Century. Its first known occupant, Dame Alice Babington, married Gregory Page in the 1470s.

However, their son and heir to the Hall became a Catholic priest, meaning all his wealth and estate would go to the church upon inheritance. More distant members of the Babington Family – The Revells, disapproved of this law of contribution and controversially assumed ownership of the hall after inflicting a period of intimidation on the church and the Babington Family, climaxing in the kidnapping of Mrs Page in 1498 by her relative, Hugh Revell. The estate was ‘sold’ to him in 1502.

Carnfield Hall remained with the Revell Family for over 300 years. Over the generations of their possession, they were the main contributors and developers of the fantastic building that is with us today.

Edward Revell remodelled the medieval half-timbered house (some of which remains) in the 1570s, and his grandsons added panelled rooms and staircases in Jacobean times. Fortuitous marriages with Harpur and Wilmot heiresses in the 17th Century enabled another building phase in the early 1700s by Robert Revell, who was unfortunately murdered in 1714 by two of his servants whilst he slept. (Currently, his body still lies between 2 life-size weeping cherubs in a splendid tomb in South Normanton Church.)

Robert Revell’s grandaughter Frances died aged 20 of dreaded smallpox in an epidemic that struck Nottingham in 1736, a year after her marriage to the curiously named Strelley Pegge. (In their love letters she called him “Dear Mr Pegge” and he ” My dearest charmer”! An interesting formality for a future marriage, as well as the fact that Mr Pegge produced a natural son by his mistress, just before his wedding!)

Frances died before she had children, and her uncle, the Reverend Francis Revell, inherited Carnfield on her death. Shockingly, the Reverend was equally as promiscuous as Mr Pegge and, upon receiving his inheritance, promptly moved into the Hall with his wife, mistress and three illegitimate children!

In 1770 it passed to his natural son Tristram, a Colonel in the army, whose legitimate cousin, Sophia, disputed his right to inherit. Because she had eloped with the family coachman in 1735, she had been cut off. On the Colonel’s death in 1797 without children, the estate passed to his cousins.

Sir John Eardley-Wilmot got into financial difficulties and, to avoid embarrassment to an MP, he was made Governor of Tasmania, thus removing the problem. So, in 1834, he sold the estate to his land agent Joseph Wilson, captain of the Alfreton Cavalry, magistrate and solicitor. Mr Wilson was arrested in 1840 and incarcerated in Derby Gaol for some weeks, dying at Carnfield just before his trial. In 1912 his grandson Vaughan Radford, a most typical old English country squire, died, and Carnfield was sold to Alfreton estate agent Melville Watson. In June 1914, he was murdered by a disgruntled tenant, and the ongoing restoration started by him abruptly stopped. His widow lived on at the Hall until she died in 1949. A local industrialist, Noel Darbyshire, purchased it and updated the Hall whilst retaining its original features. Darbyshire abandoned the Hall in 1960, and it remained unoccupied until the following owner, James Cartland, bought the property in 1987.

James spent the intervening years restoring this charming house. The restoration continued and now includes the old park, which will be laid out in the 18th / 19th centuries based on numerous plans and photos found over the years. The work effort and love of the house that James embellished during his ‘tenure’ was nothing short of remarkable.

Shortly after completion, the opportunity arose to buy the adjoining land and buildings. Now the original coach houses have been reunited with the Hall, and the dreams to recreate the historic estate that was once the heart of Alfreton, are becoming more of a reality as the restoration has started.

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