Built in the 17th-century Springhill house, Nr. Moneymore – County Londonderry, was once the home of ten generations of a single family from Ayrshire.
The History of Springhill
When ‘Good- Will’ Conyngham married sixteen-year-old Ann Upton, her father was determined to ensure that she and any children she may have, be kept in the manner to which he thought they should become accustomed. He drew up a marriage contract that required `Good Will` to build “a convenient dwelling house of lime and stone, two stories high with the necessary office houses, gardens and orchards.”
Will, rising to the challenge, erected an impressive tall-roofed house which was extended further over the years and lived in by ten subsequent generations of his family, until in 1957 Captain William Lenox-Conyngham bequeathed Springhill and its contents to the National Trust.
Visitors to the house today can admire its period furnishings and the renowned oak staircase, whilst enjoying the sensation of having their every move observed by long dead members of the family whose portraits gaze eerily down from the walls.
The Haunted History of Springhill
Springhill’s most haunted area seems to be the blue-room. Visitors to the house regularly feel alarming temperature drops when they step across the threshhold. The guides who lead the tours round the property put this down to the “presence” which is known to haunt the room.
In 1814 George Lenox-Conyngham, was away on his army duties when he received news that his children had been stricken with smallpox. George was a man prone to bouts of melancholy and went out of his mind with worry as he awaited news of their conditions. When no news was forthcoming he abandoned his post early one night and headed home for Springhill. On the way he met his commanding officer and good friend, Robert Stewart. Lenox-Conyngham was sure that Stewart would understand his plight, and as he had similarly covered for Stewart on other occasions it was no surprise to him when Stewart raised no objections. Lenox-Conyngham made it back to Springhill where he found that his wife, Olivia, had nursed all the children back to good health. His relief was to be short lived however. He received news that he was to be court marshalled for abandoning his post as his so-called friend had betrayed him. This, coupled with the sudden death shortly thereafter of one of his daughters brought on a fit depression that was to last two years.
One night he went downstairs to the gunroom, took a pistol from the wall, returned to the blue room where he sat on the bed and raised the gun to himself. Olivia, realising what he was about to do, rushed to prevent his suicide but it was too late. She had just reached the bedroom door when she heard a gun shot.
Olivia’s ghost is still said to repeat the desperate dash to save her dear husband. She has been seen on several occasions standing at the door of the blue room with her hands raised in horror. During the latter part of the 19th century, a houseguest named Miss Wilson had sat up late one night chatting with the daughter of the house, Milly Conyngham. When Milly finally retired to bed Miss Wilson noticed that she had left her diary behind. As she left her room to return the diary she was startled by the sudden appearance of a tall woman at the top of the stairs. The apparition moved towards her with it`s arms raised in despair, and then slowly faded away.
Many years later Miss Hamilton, another guest staying at the house had gone to bed one night in the blue room when, just as she was starting to fall asleep, the room appeared to fill with agitated servants who were “pushing and wrangling in whispers.” As she lay there terrified she heard a clicking noise from the wall behind her bed and turning, saw a door open and a light shine from it. She later recalled how “someone seemed to come out through this light and stilled the commotion, so that all fear left me, and after a while I fell asleep.” The next morning she was startled to find that no door existed anywhere behind her bed. However, when she reported her experience to Charlotte Lenox-Conyngham, she was told that there was a door behind the bed but that it had been long since bricked up and been papered over. In more recent years, the blue room’s wallpaper was stripped off and the secret door uncovered. It opened into a powder closet, on the floor of which lay an ancient pair of gloves and small pouch containing bullets.
In the early years of the 20th century the last generation of Lenox-Conyngham children to live at the house were asleep one night when their nanny suddenly awoke to find Olivia’s phantom standing over the children, as though checking the well-being of each one of them in turn. The nursemaid felt no fear at all. Indeed she was moved by the concern that the apparition appeared to show towards the children. Within a few moments, evidently satisfied that all was well, the ghost simply faded away and was gone.
Objects are also moved in the blue room without being touched by human hand and several articles have completely disappeared.