Precised from John H Ingram: “The Haunted Homes and family traditions of Great Britain” Gibbings & Company, London, 1897.
Eastbury House near Blandford in Dorset, owing to the galaxy of famous names surrounding its story, must take a prominent place among the haunted homes of the country. Its career as a residence was short but brilliant.
Eastbury was begun by Lord Melcombe in 1718. The park and grounds were laid out on the same magnificent scale as the house, no expense being spared ; trees half a century old, and some tons in weight, were transported bodily from distant woods and replanted at Eastbury.
In 1763, a change came over the scene, and Eastbury House was destroyed even more rapidly than it had been created; all the rooms were dismantled, and the splendid furniture scattered to the winds. Twelve years later the ruin was consummated, the house being pulled down, and the beautiful and costly materials disposed of.
The ghostly legend attached to the house is said to be firmly believed in by the inhabitants of Grenville and its neighbourhood, and is to the following effect.
Lord Melcombe advanced considerable sums of money to his steward William Doggett. The greater part of this loan Dogget is said to have parted with to a brother, who got into “difficulties” and was utterly powerless to repay it. In course of time Lord Melcombe required repayments of his money, and Doggett, unable to comply with the demand, was reduced to great extremity.
The only expedient Doggett could find to meet his liabilities was to appropriate some of the building materials and sell them on his own account. Shortly before Lord Melcombe came down to receive his money, Doggett’s courage failed; probably he had a much smaller sum with which to repay his master than he owed; he could not pay him, and, therefore, shot himself.
It was in a marble-floored room that Doggett committed suicide, and it is said the stains of his blood are still visible. One might say that the stains of murder or suicide are ineffaceable!
Since this tragedy, Doggett’s ghost has lingered about Eastbury, and the tradition is that, headless, he drives about the park in a spectral coach and four driven by a coachman in livery. The troubled spirit appears to derive a bitter satisfaction from contemplation of the decayed grandeur of the once proud house, now reduced to scarcely a shadow of its former grandeur.
But it is many years now since the apparition has made itself visible, though the taint of ghostly inhabitation still clings to the remaining wing of the house. On dark nights, when all else is still, mysterious movements are heard, the doors open and shut unaccountably, pointing to the interference that the troubled spirit has not yet served its term of earthly wanderings.