Appuldurcombe House on the Isle of Wight had taken us by complete surprise. Having read nothing about this location prior to visiting, despite having a guide book from the English Heritage, we were completely shocked to see that the house was nothing but a shell. How could a place like this, which would have been home to future generations, become nothing but a ghost?
Its almost like arriving on a film set, the front of the house looks amazing and convincing enough to be part of a scene to be filmed, but behind the scenes it reveals to be nothing more than a ruin, which is held up only by its structure. I was so captivated by this place I didn’t even notice or bother to read some of the signs on the walls that might have given a clue as to the reasons why the house was like it was, nor did we take much notice of the history in the museum. Instead I just stood admiring the open space, taking photos and it wasn’t until we got home that we discovered the real reason why!
Appuldurcombe House originally began as a priory in 1100, then a convent and later an Elizabethan home to the Leigh family, and eventually becoming ownership to the Worsley family.
The current house was built upon from 1702 by Sir Robert Worsley, who unfortunately died before the house was completed in 1747. From the 1770s the house was further extended by Sir Roberts nephew, Sir Richard Worsley and overtime, became known as the grandest house on the Isle of Wight.
The house later came into the hands of Charles Anderson-Pelham who was the founder of the Royal Yacht Squadron and apart from making a few minor changes, used it as a base for his sailing activities. In 1855 Charles sold the property to become an unsuccessful hotel, and then leased as a college for young gentlemen and eventually in the early 20th century, was used by a community of Benedictine monks.
During the First and Second World Wars, the house was used as a base by troops and eventually in World War II the history of Appuldurcombe House came to an abrupt end when a Dornier Do 217, which was laying mines in the area, dropped its final mine close to the house before crashing, causing severe fire damage and leaving what was once the grandest house on the Isle of Wight as nothing but an empty shell. Now in the hands of the English Heritage, the front of the house has been recently restored and does give the impression for what it once was known as.
The story of Appuldurcombe House doesn’t end there as it is said to be one of the most haunted places on the island. With stories of a phantom carriage seen at the entrance, monks roaming about, a crying baby, the shadows of dancers in the cellar and regular sightings of people and flickering lights around the main house.