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The Residents of Saltram

The Residents of Saltram

By Alice Shelley

For me, the most fascinating part of history is the people who made it. Their lives that were once an open book are now mysteries that historians are trying to uncover new clues about every day. We think of these people as good as gone, we wonder (because wondering is all we have) about their thoughts and feelings, never accepting that we won’t know for sure who they really were.

What if they were still here? What if they are still here? What if they have been waiting since the moment of their deaths to share their own stories with the people of the future, us? What if they are at Saltram house right now?

Saltram as we know it dates back to 1743 when the Parker family moved in, however has been standing on Plymouth soil since pre-Tudor times. This gives us centuries of generations of people who have come and gone from Saltram House, although some may have never left.

My wonderful auntie shares my passion for the stories of the past and works at Saltram House. She was really excited by my ‘Residents of Saltram’ article and agreed to do some digging at work and I am personally blown away by the results.

All the stories you are about to read are just that. Stories, myths, legends and cannot be scientifically proven yet but I encourage you to form your own opinion as I have done.

A Butler’s tails

Saltram often hosts parties for its hardworking staff where they dress up in Georgian attire and have some historical themed fun. One night, at a party, a supernatural event occurred which spooked all involved. On the landing of the grand staircase stood a male staff member, he was dressed up as a butler, looking over the banister and admiring the hall. On the other side of the landing were a gaggle of female staff members, dressed up as Georgian ladies. Suddenly the male staff member felt the tug of a child on his costume. The ladies and himself were thoroughly freaked out as there was nobody to be seen upstairs apart from themselves.

Photobombing feet.

This tale is once again set at a staff party. The workers at Saltram were dressed up in all their Georgian finery and this time booked a professional photographer to take their photograph. The members of staff were lined up on the first platform of the Grand staircase smiling for the camera, oblivious to what might have been happening right under their noses. As everyone looked at the fresh picture, every single person speculated at the pair of child’s feet in the photograph. Faint but very much there.

The Butler’s tails and photobombing feet stories both centers around cheeky children. There was, in fact, a brother and a sister who died in infancy around the early 1800s. Could Young Henry and Caroline Parker have mistaken the dressed-up staff as people of their own era? When you are next lucky enough to be in the splendor of Saltram’s hall and staircase, give little Henry and Caroline a thought. They might be closer than you think...

A maid’s footsteps.

As you have finished in the dining room and make your way to the kitchens, you may notice a small staircase, closed off to the public. These steps were once used by a young maid who threw herself off the top and ended her life. This tragedy was rare at Saltram. In the present times, clear footprints have been seen leading up those steps, edging closer and closer to the banister. These prints are far smaller than any staff member but are almost certainly the shape of a human. Due to this, members of staff have refused to use this staircase. Could the troubled maid be reliving that night that she died over and over? Leaving us a trace of her unhappiness with each step.

Shot by the gamekeeper.

As you drive out of the main parts of Saltram before you reach the stag lodge, you get to the dell. Some call it happy valley or the posh parkland. There are acres of woodland surrounding the paths. Woodland that we have no reason to be going into. Somebody, hundreds of years ago seemed to have reason to go into those woods and never came out, being shot by the gamekeeper. The reason for the shooting is unknown but this injured figure has been spotted through the trees but when approached disappears into thin air.

There are similar scenarios to ‘shot by the gamekeeper.’ One legend is of a hooded figure looming in the trees either side of the amphitheater and another of a figure that has been spotted standing by an incredibly old spring and an ancient oak tree. These ‘figures’ have been seen numerous times by members of the public and Saltram’s rangers.

A flash of red hair

This last legend is far more modern than the others. This one happened in the last few years. The rangers of Saltram have been working on conserving an old orchard with an old barn for a while. This orchard is on the dell walk. There was once a young man with extremely distinctive red hair. He was part of the ranger team at Saltram and worked extremely hard in the orchard and barn. Tragically, this young man died and after his funeral, his family requested his ashes to be sprinkled in the orchard that he loved so much. Of Course, Saltram agreed. Sometime later, the rangers were working in the Orchard. Their Land rover and tools were a yard or so away and so when they all spotted a figure hanging around the car, they swiftly made their way over. When they reached the car and tools, nobody was there. Everyone said that the only thing that they could make out of the figure was distinctive red hair.

A few nights later, there was a staff party in the cellar and every member of staff was there as it was quite the event. Ranger Bob (the head ranger at Saltram) suddenly noticed a flash of red hair in the corner of the room. He made his way over and yet again the figure with red hair had disappeared. No present members of staff have red hair but what about the past ones? Could this young lad still be trying to fulfill his post as ranger that he loved so much?

I encourage you to go to Saltram this Halloween, learn of its vast history. If you’re lucky, it may even pay you a visit.

Written by,

Alice Shelley, Editor in Chief of Hear from Hele’s.

A huge thank you to Ranger Bob and Hannah Green of Saltram. Without you, this article wouldn’t have been possible.