Myths and Stories
Associated with Hampton Gay
A popular myth that has endured time well is that of the rumour of the curse placed upon the manor house. This came from the time of the train crash when the survivors are said to have approached the gentleman living in the manor house for help and him refusing.
Through research we know that Mr Robert Langton Pearson the tenant of the manor half of the house at the time of the crash did infact help. Perhaps people wrongly assumed it was the manor house in the village that refused and possibly, it was somebody else that actually refused?
One newspaper report at the time was The Belfast news - letter who wrote that while Pearson and other nearby locals were taking in survivors to their houses, one landowner was asked if he would take someone in and he replied that he had a friend coming to stay and that it was the duty of the company to look after their own affairs. (December 29th 1874 Issue 56143).
Was this how the story of the curse came about? Was the gentleman that refused to help behind the reason for this belief even today, that the house caught fire because the owner refused to help - when the curse was made? We know for certain that Pearson's half of the manor house at Hampton Gay was opened up that day to help the survivors, but ever since its believed it was the manor house at HG the curse was put on, we will probably never know who this mystery man is.
The manor house caught fire nearly 13 years later, and with different tenants residing there, highly unlikely even if possible that it was caused by a curse.
Pearson had a lease on the paper mill in the village, and at the time of the accident, he and his men were working in the mill which was close to the train track, they stopped so they could assist with the tragic event.
They went as far as to cleaning the bodies that were laid out in one of the mill rooms ready to be identified by grieving family members. It is on record that Mr R L Pearson gave clothes, food and drink to the survivors.
Some people have claimed to have seen ghosts of people walking from the scene of the train crash towards the manor house on the anniversary of the crash.
Country Life magazine printed a small piece in the early 1900s about the people living in the nearby cottages on the night of the fire; reporting that wagons were heard leaving the manor house the night before the fire loaded with furniture.
Nov 8: On the 5th November 1875: The paper mill at Hampton Gay was entirely destroyed by fire. It was found to be in flames at 10pm; but probably did not attract much attention on account of it being 'Gunpowder Plot' commemoration. Rumour says that all is not satisfactory on the part of the proprietor; as he did nothing toward extinguishing the flames. This mill is said to have once belonged to the Wilson family of Worton (silk spinners) who tried to establish it as a silk mill, but not successful as the waters of the Cherwell were not suitable.
From the book Oxfordshire Village Life: The diaries of George James Dew (1846 - 1928), Relieving Officer.
Mr R L Pearson the tenant of the paper mill apparently had no insurance on the mill. He may have been ensuring the safety of his workers by preventing them from extinguishing the fire because the fire had been too severe? We will probably never know for sure.
We were told that in the 1900s, locals believed that the house was deliberately set on fire because the owner of the house didn't help at the time of the train crash, it was suggested that the fire was started by someone putting a burning rag into the property.
A more recent story is from a man who camped out in front of the ruin, in the night he looked up at the house and saw someone looking out of an upper window. A strange experience and the fact that the ruin has no floors tells us it wasn't an actual person in the house.
Railway workers on night duty claim to have heard children playing and singing ring a roses near the scene of the train crash.