Braywick Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 1DL
first learned about Braywick
House when I saw it on a beautifully illustrated poster of "ghostly
things" around Maidenhead on the classroom wall in a 1985 Desborough
maths lesson. These posters by Michael Bayley (architect), as far
as I know, are still available to buy at Maidenhead Library. Originally
published in 1975, the copies I have were augmented and re-released
in 1986. There's a few different ones available too - so go and check
them out. Anyway, next to an illustration of Braywick House, it mentioned
a mysterious "White Lady." I wanted to know more.
1988, under the guise of "school project" (when in reality
it was just teenage curiosity), myself and friend Nik turned up unannounced
on the doorstep of Braywick House with a video camera and a whole
bunch of questions. At the time, the place was the head office for
Laura Ashley, and rather than waste their time with elaborate floral
curtain designs, a few staff decided it might be more fun to show
a couple of kids around. What surprised us more than anything else
was the fact that not a single employee had heard of the ghost stories.
I still have the videotape showing the horrified reactions of the
workers being told that the ghost is supposed to stroll casually out
of the window in their little top floor office. I still wonder how
many may have resigned in fright following our little foray.
building also features some wonderful old cellars (in which Oliver
Cromwell is rumoured to have once stabled horses) and, although it
has never been officially open to the public, I'd encourage anyone
with an interest in historic architecture to try and arrange a visit
with the present tenants.
"The Red Room", ground floor - Seriously,
that's what it's called
for the actual ghost stories, here's an account taken from a leaflet
entitled "A Short History of Braywick House" put together
by former tenants Pandair Freight Limited (undated but most likely
from the early 70s). I would suppose that this leaflet is all but
impossible to track down these days, so here we go - verbatim in the
name of historical preservation:
common with many old houses, Braywick House is said to be haunted
and has over the years been credited with many different kinds of
ghosts. On one occasion in 1914 every servant sleeping in the attic
was awakened by footsteps, but the origin of these footsteps was never
resolved although they were loud and unmistakable and they have been
heard many times since. Then there is the legend of the White Lady.
She comes up from the tunnel which is covered inside with oyster shells
through which runs the stream on its way to The Cut. She walks over
the bridge and passes through the front door of the house and up the
main staircase along the passage and out of the study window, the
last window on the east side."
Internal and external view of the window supposedly
used by The White Lady
is also the tale told of two women servants cleaning the main staircase
who stepped aside for a gentleman in what they described as "old
fashioned clothes." Afterwards they found that there had been
no such gentleman, nor could there have been one at that time."
more recent times, Mr. Kenneth Pratt, assistant to Mr. Thornton Smith
of Shoppenhangers' Manor, states most firmly that he has, on many
occasions, been conscious of unpleasant presences in the attic rooms
- something is there, or something opens a door and his experiences
have been shared by others."
there you have it. With regard to the above, we did once try (albeit
not particularly hard) to locate the oyster covered tunnel to The
Cut (a stream which still exists) but to no avail. If anyone is after
a small adventure within the confines of Maidenhead - there's a mission
staring you in the face. As for the mysterious gentleman and his "old
fashioned clothes", perhaps it was a just a rep from Laura Ashley
scouting for a future head office? You never know...
"The Blue Room", ground floor - Imaginitive,
and before I forget, the leaflet text reproduced here is just the
"haunting" bits - if anyone is interested in the general
history of the house, I'll be more than happy to get the rest of the
text off to you given that I'm fortunate enough to have a copy - just