Upton Court, Slough 30th May 2009
Upton Court is a 14th century “open hall house”. Dendrochronology suggests that the hall dates to around 1330. Initially, the Lords of the Manor were Merton Priory but following the dissolution of the monasteries ownership changed regularly. Owners included Benjamin Lane who gave generously to the parish and the Lascelles Family. In 1711 Benjamin Lane conveyed to Edward Lascelles and his heirs 'all that capital messuage or mansion house called Upton Court'. As with most of the owners of Upton Court, not many members of the Lascelles family lived in the Slough manor house; only one is recorded.
There were, however, members of the family who were buried at St. Laurence’s Church next door. St Lawrence’s is the oldest building in Slough, it was rebuilt in the 12th century but the tower and outside walls still remain from the original Norman building; the tower being once, a well know landmark with its curfew bell that “tolls the knell of parting day” across the fields of Eton College. The ancient and beautiful graveyard, which incidentally, is said to have inspired the local poet Thomas Gray to write his Elegy in a country churchyard in 1761, runs right up to the Manor House. It is also the resting place for the Slough astronomer Sir William Herschel (discoverer of Uranus).
King George V and Queen Mary visited Upton Court on 4 June 1922. They were viewing the house to decide whether it was a suitable country home for their daughter, Princess Mary, when she married Viscount Lascelles, later 6th Earl of Harewood. However, Upton Court did not get the Royal seal of approval and the Lascelles family sold the house in 1929.
Much of the original house survives intact. In recent years an extension has been added (the area now used as the newspaper offices – see below). This has been beautifully executed under careful scrutiny using old materials, and as a result fits into the older building really well. In the Solar Room upstairs, a 14th century fireplace and ornate ceiling remain. The house is very “atmospheric”.
The house is now owned by and used as offices for the local newspaper, the Slough Observer; our hosts for the investigation. The Observer had been using the entire building as their headquarters for some years but has recently consolidated into the new wing of the building. The staff regularly reported feelings of being watched from the minstrel’s gallery, the apparition of a young woman had been seen and unexplained sounds heard. Rumours of hauntings had been around for years under previous owners with domestic servants reporting seeing a woman in a bloodstained nightdress walking the grounds, always on a Friday night.
Until recently no one had investigated the building and the GC were invited in to investigate as part of a series of articles the paper was writing over 3 weeks. One other psychic based paranormal group had gone in the week before the GC and a buildings historian had also reported on his findings.
Eleven investigators took part, divided into 3 groups. It was decided that because of the risk of noise pollution – the building being so old and very creaky, that each group should cover a separate floor level and that each vigil should include a “quiet” time when everyone is asked to remain silent and not move about.
Those attending were:-
Group 1: Mark Salmon, Paul Collins, Marcus Kennard and Paul Brown.
Group 2: Andy Hind, Nolan Webber, Justine Cooper and Monica Tandy.
Group 3: Kathy Gearing, Sarah Darnell and Milton Edwards.Equipment
Investigators used digital cameras, 3 camcorders, digital recorders, emf detectors, thermometers and each group had a walkie talkie.
On the main staircase at the beginning of the evening Kathy heard her walkie talkie buzz for no apparent reason. This happened to Monica’s radio again later around the same area. We could find no reason other than that it was close to an alarmed door leading to the back of the building and perhaps there may have been some interference caused by the alarm.
In the Editor’s office on the Ground Floor (1018) Marcus reported feeling something touching his hair and heard movement as though someone was in the room. He was alone at the time. Marcus reported his chest feeling very tight (1115).
On the 2nd Floor Solar Room nothing unusual was reported.
On the Top Floor Kathy reported feeling “weird” and sick in the area of the 3rd room. The general feeling was that the top floor felt comfortable except for the end (3rd) room, where possible causes for the unease felt were the uneven floor, sloping ceilings, and electricity cables. Milton also heard buzzing in this area. There was also lots of dead wasps on the floor; possibly a chemical had been used to control them that may be the cause of the nausea. Later in the investigation 2 large air conditioning units were discovered outside, accessible through the wood panelling in the office below. This it was felt explained not only the buzzing but possibly also the sicky feelings reported. Footsteps heard below at 1048.
On the Ground Floor Editor’s Office Milton heard 2 distinct taps (1233) from the corridor outside the office. Kathy also heard a noise at the same time and just after that she heard what she described as a whistle. At 1251 Milton heard the tapping noise again. At 0100, Kathy saw a shadow in the corridor outside the office and felt sure someone was there. On checking no-one was. During this vigil the 2 large air-conditioning units were found (mentioned earlier).
On the 2nd Floor Solar Room Marcus and Paul Brown heard 3 piano notes – played as though by a child, from the Editor’s office below at 1215.
On the Top Floor several “impressions” were reported by individuals which have been recorded on a separate sheet. A loud thump was heard from downstairs at 0015. Monica saw what appeared to be a small blob (like a mouse) running along a desk then disappearing. It’s possible it could have been a mouse but it seemed to vanish into thin air. This seems a little odd but coincidently, in his Psychic Impressions report, Justin mentions a “ghost mouse or rat” in the building.
On the Ground Floor Hall area a sharp temperature drop was recorded from 22degrees to 17 at 0220.
On the 2nd Floor Solar Room knocking was heard at 0135 (twice). It was discovered that Andy was in the area at the time but didn’t knock. At 0215 flushing was heard from the gent’s loo. No-one was thought to be there at the time. At 0220 Kathy hears “radio music”, Sarah hears it after a few moments of intense listening but Milton hears nothing. At 0224, the music stops. Ticking noise heard but explained by timer switch by window.
On the Top Floor at 0158 Mark and Marcus noticed a slight drop in temperature - level not recorded.
On the Minstrel’s Gallery over the great hall all three groups took part in a final vigil. At 0305 a knock was heard from downstairs outside the Editor’s office. A few psychic impressions were reported here.
There were some members of the investigation team, who could be described as “sensitives,” who reported several psychic impressions at Upton House. These are recorded in detail on a separate sheet.
Upton Court proved an interesting building to investigate. The most active areas appeared to be the Editor’s office, (where careful consideration should be given to the air-conditioning units buzzing away outside) and the 1st floor, particularly in the door and minstrel’s gallery area. It should also be noted that the old part of the building showed evidence of a Pest Control company having been employed in the house. As we have no idea what chemicals may or may not have been introduced, we must be cautious in explaining feelings of unease and nausea etc.
I have collated all the psychic impressions offered on the night’s investigation. If anyone would like to see those please email me at: email@example.com and I will be happy to send you a copy.