Dancing with the devil

Tucked between Templar ruins to the north and an ancient lighthouse to the south, Loftus Hall is a foreboding presence on the Hook Peninsula, even on the sunniest of afternoons.

Loftus Hall, Hook Peninsula, Wexford, Ireland, haunted house, travel, travelogue, devil, legend, ailsa prideaux-mooney, travel photography

Originally home to the Redmond family from around 1350, it was gifted to Nicholas Loftus in the early 1650s after the Cromwellian wars. The building became known as Loftus Hall when son Henry Loftus took up residence there in 1666 but it took another hundred years for things to get really creepy.

Charles Tottenham had married Anne Loftus and had two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne. In 1768 Anne Loftus died and after a suitable period of mourning, Charles married his cousin, Jane Cliffe, in 1770. Charles, Jane and Anne Tottenham took up residence in Loftus Hall; the oldest daughter Elizabeth was married at this point.

Loftus Hall, Hook Peninsula, Wexford, Ireland, haunted house, travel, travelogue, devil, legend, ailsa prideaux-mooney, travel photography

One violently stormy night, a young man knocked at the door of Loftus Hall looking for refuge from the storm. He was admitted and proved to be such a charming companion he endeared himself to all members of the household, especially the daughter Anne. He stayed for quite some time and they spent their evenings playing cards; Anne and the stranger partnering up against Charles and Jane; the young couple winning every game.

Anne fell for the young man, but her father and stepmother didn’t approve. Here is where the story takes two very different paths, both with the same tragic outcome. One version of the story has the young man being told to leave, and when he departed, Anne had a complete breakdown. It proved such an embarrassment to Charles and Jane that they locked her away in a room known as The Tapestry Room and there she remained until she died in 1775.

Loftus Hall, Hook Peninsula, Wexford, Ireland, haunted house, travel, travelogue, devil, legend, ailsa prideaux-mooney, travel photography

The other story that spread throughout the local community was that one night, whilst playing cards, Anne dropped her ring on the floor and when she bent down under the table to pick it up, she noticed that the young man had cloven hooves instead of feet. She realized she was in the presence of the Devil himself and upon being discovered, he disappeared out through the roof in a thunderclap, leaving behind the smell of smoking brimstone and a great big hole in the ceiling. Some believe it was a story spread by the Tottenhams themselves to explain away Anne’s subsequent decline into insanity. Others believe it really happened.

Either way, poor Anne spent her remaining years locked away in the Tapestry Room where she allegedly sat, hunched over, staring out to sea waiting for her love to return. When she died, they had to construct a special coffin because her muscles had seized up and her bones had fused into a hideously deformed shape from her constant vigil staring out the window.

The cloven-hoofed stranger is thought to have returned time and again looking for Anne and causing all kinds of poltergeist disturbances in the house. The family brought in several Protestant clergymen to rid themselves of the problems, but to no avail. Then they turned to a Catholic priest who was living on the estate, a Father Thomas Broaders, who is believed to have successfully exorcised the evil spirit.

Loftus Hall, Hook Peninsula, Wexford, Ireland, haunted house, travel, travelogue, devil, legend, ailsa prideaux-mooney, travel photography

But that did not put an end to the paranormal activity. Throughout the years, all kinds of visitors have reported seeing the figure of a young woman passing through the Tapestry Room. As recently as this summer, Loftus Hall was in the news when ghostly images were captured in a tourist snapshot. It would appear that the brokenhearted spirit of Anne Tottenham is still very much at large.

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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39 Responses to Dancing with the devil

  1. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Lovely story for Hallowe’en, and wonderful photos!
    del

  2. ladyredspecs says:

    An interesting story Ailsa. After visiting Hook Lighthouse in 2011 we saw Loftus Hall looking very forlorn in the setting sunlight. I wish we has known this story then. Before the digital days after I got photos back from the processor, I found I had captured many ghostly apparitions during a visit to Port Arthur convict prison in Tasmania so it doesn’t take much to convince me!

  3. I enjoy a good ghost story, although I’m not sure what I believe. Sometimes I can be a real skeptic. I looked at the link and I can’t help but wonder? Couldn’t those two “apparitions” actually be two reflections from some of the tourists? I say this, but then I wonder, will I sleep with the light on tonight? 😱👻👹

    • ailsapm says:

      I thought the same thing, but the article showed the full photo further down and the tourists outside the building don’t match up with the ‘reflections’ – apparently the guy who took the photo thought they were reflections too at first but then realized they were facing another direction. I am definitely sleeping with the light on tonight! 🙂

  4. Angeline M says:

    Great story! I’ll believe the second version; much more fun 🙂

  5. Sandra says:

    Scary looking place no matter what you believe. Great blog.

  6. nilakshi says:

    scary. never visited a haunted place before,, your narration kept me glued 🙂

  7. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Its certainly a bit gloomy, just the sort of place to create creepy stories!

  8. Spoooooky! Beneath the legend, wonder if we have a more mundane tale of a tragic chemical imbalance in the brain… its not like history has been terribly kind to those with mental illness.

    Must compliment you on the pics! 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Such a sad story, whatever the truth. Horrible to think of that poor girl being locked away because nobody knew how to help her. Glad you enjoyed the photos. xxx

  9. Creepy & good story for Halloween!

  10. aj vosse says:

    Boooooo… hoooo… hoooo!!! 😉

  11. winnymarch says:

    cool trip, make me wanna go there

  12. markd60 says:

    That creepy house needs a few ghosts! Great story and interesting photos!

  13. Love the story. Well told 😈

  14. What a sad story…knowing this history must make a tour through this building even more spooky.

    • ailsapm says:

      Absolutely, but the building has a dark presence even without knowing the story first. The first time I spotted it, it gave me a sinking feeling. I only learned its history at a later point.

      • Isn’t it amazing how a building can hold energy that is so noticeable…I’ve been in structures that made my skin crawl (I am thinking of the slave castle in Ghana I visited a over 30 yrs ago, but I still remember the feeling).

  15. Jemma Jones says:

    What a lovely story?! Many thanks for sharing!

  16. ilargia64 says:

    Scaring….I saw the link and it does not look like a reflection…May be something processed??? She looks too young to be so much in love….I was thinking about a Young lady of may be 17 ,18…But it is scaring anyway…

    • ailsapm says:

      You are right, the girl in the reflection looks too young to be Anne Tottenham. Anne was born in 1744 and died in 1775. This encounter with the young man happened sometime after Charles married Jane in 1770, so Anne would have been at least 26 when this event happened and 31 when she died. Subsequent reports of sightings of her walking through the Tapestry Room all mentioned her being tall and wearing a stiff looking dress. So perhaps there is more than one ghost skulking around Loftus Hall… 🙂

  17. joannesisco says:

    I literally shuddered after reading this story. A good spooky pre-Hallowe’en story 🙂

  18. Pamela says:

    Reckon you should send this to Tom Dunne at Newstalk.ie……he’s looking for ghostly stuff for Hallowe’en

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