Chambercombe Manor

Chambercombe Manor has been described as the most haunted place in Devon and even one of the most haunted in Britain, it certainly has a long and sometimes chequered past.  Many paranormal researchers have visited and it has been featured on the popular television show “Most Haunted”.  

Our visit was in the middle of August 2022, although a rather rainy day the sun still shone and from first impressions it was a rather delightful looking dwelling.  We arrived a bit early so we took advantage of the estate’s cafe for some coffee and cake whilst we waited and then wandered about the gardens.  The gardens are not formal, mostly wooded areas with a small campsite opposite that is separated by a stream and mostly hidden by trees.  Walking around the gardens took about 10-15 mins.

Click here to watch our video exploring Chambercombe Manor

History of Chambercombe Manor

Chambercombe Manor was once a rather grand manor house nestled away in a valley in North Devon close to Ilfracombe.  The exact date it was built is unknown but is thought to have been first constructed in the 11th century and was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086).

In 1162 the manor was owned by Sir Henry Champernon and remained with the Champernon family until the 15th century.  In 1530 Chambercombe Manor was in the hands of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk (father of the ill fated lady Jane Grey) and following his execution for treason it passed to the crown briefly.  

Over the following centuries the manor lost its prestige, exactly when is unknown and became a farmhouse, although much of the interior still retains its former grandeur and with thanks to a dedicated trust it has been further restored.

Now For The Ghost Story

In 1738 the manor was owned by Jan Vye who was busy attempting to refurbish the dilapidated property.  Whilst Jan was carrying out these repairs he came across the outline of a window he had not noticed before.  

Inside the manor Jan realised the walls and rooms along the corridor were not quite right, there was something in between.  He got his pickaxe and knocked through the wall.  What Jan and his wife discovered horrified them.  Inside the little room in the corner stood a small bed draped in tapestries.  Upon that bed lay the skeletal remains of a woman still fully clothed in a fine dress.  Who was this fine woman?  Well we have to go a bit further back to discover her identity.   

In the 17th century an Alexander Oatway had resided at Chambercombe Manor, he was a well known local “wrecker”, in the dark of night when ships were struggling to find a safe harbour, Alexander and his villainous comrades would shine lights to lure them into the treacherous rocks then murder any survivors and plunder the ships cargo.  

Alexander’s son, William was said to be more kind and when he accidentally discovered his father’s trade he rescued a young Spanish woman, Ellen, who he then went on to marry and they had one child, a baby girl named Kate. 

Kate grew up into a fine young lady, at sixteen her eye was caught by a visiting Irish naval officer, Duncan Wallis.  Kate’s parents approved of the match and soon Kate and Duncan were wed and she migrated to Dublin to be with her husband.

In time William inherited Chambercombe Manor but the repair and maintenance costs, not to mention his father’s gambling debts were beyond what he could afford, slowly he followed in his father footsteps into wrecking to fund the manor and debts.

On a stormy night in 1695, a ship came into the midst of Chambercombe Manor,  William and his men set out on another dastardly wrecking mission.  Just as William was about to leave the carnage he spotted a bundle of clothing washing to and fro amongst the debris.  William grabbed the clothing and turned it over, it was in fact a woman, horrifically disfigured and injured from what she had endured, her face indistinguishable but upon her fingers glinted jewelled rings that could not be pulled off due to swelling.  

William scooped the almost lifeless woman up and carried her home, although not from a wish to help but he wanted those jewels that she wore.  Upon returning home, William’s wife Ellen was horrified and did all she could to save the poor woman but to no avail her injuries were too severe and the woman died.  William stole her jewels.

The latest shipwreck became the talk of the town and in a local tavern William overheard some sailors chatting that had survived the wreckage.  The sailors spoke of their captain, Duncan Wallis.  William was alarmed, his daughter Kate had married Duncan Wallis, so he pressed the sailors for more information.  It was indeed the same Duncan Wallis she had married, and what more she had been aboard, on her way to visit relatives and no trace had been found of her amongst the wreckage.  Slowly it dawned upon William, the disfigured woman he brought back to his home to steal her jewels had been his only child, Kate.

The horrifying news was too much for Willaim’s wife, Ellen, she died soon afterwards of a broken heart.  The room containing Kate’s body was sealed up and William moved away.  It remained that way until Jan Vye discovered the hidden room and buried her remains beside her mother’s grave in Ilfracombe Parish Church, although it is said that her ghost haunts Chambercombe Manor to this day.

Other Ghostly Residents

Other residents at Chambercombe Manor that have never left include the ghost of a six year old girl in the Chippendale Room, when she is near you can usually smell a rather lovely perfume.  

Items in the Tudor Room are regularly found to have been moved from the position that they were left.  In the corner you can see an oak cradle, who it was meant for is unknown but many people have apparently heard the cradle rocking of its own accord when the room has been empty.  

In the corridor next to the hidden room there have been accounts of visitors being pushed by three spirit men, one is uniformed, whilst the others are thought to have been smugglers.

In the Victorian Room there is no particular story but many have felt this room, despite its much brighter and airy appearance to have a real sinister presence residing here.  Some have seen an ill woman lying on the bed with a man watching over her.  If anyone tries to reach onto the bed strange disturbances occur such as the clock door swinging open or a curtain pole pinning on the pole.

Now whilst we were visiting it was in this room we had an unusual experience.  I feel at this point I should note that my partner and I are both sceptics, but open to the idea of ghosts.  Whilst the guide was talking in the Victorian Room my partner suddenly turned around and looked at me.  I glanced at him and then continued to focus on the tour guide, my partner turned back as well in due course.  I did not think any more of it until we left the property and he asked if I had tapped him on his shoulder as a prank in the room.  I had not and I was standing a good distance further back so I could not have accidentally nudged him.

It was in this room also that upon entering my mother turned and looked at me with a strange expression, then whispered “This room does not feel right”, this was before our guide told us anything about the room.  

Down in the kitchen apparently a young boy’s ghost resides above the bread ovens and the clockwork meat spit has apparently often turned without being wound up.


Upon the walls at Chambercombe Manor you will see sketches left by mediums that are apparently portraits of ghostly inhabitants.  The manor had an interesting atmosphere but I personally did not experience anything strange.  It is very historic and fascinating and our guide did a fabulous job of setting the scene.  

At the time of recording this (Oct 2022) tours cost a very reasonable £10.00 per person (£6.50 for children) although due to the high maintenance costs, the manor’s trust has unfortunately had to put it up for sale, so if you fancy owning your very own haunted house and have a spare £1 million then it could be yours.  On a more serious note, depending on who buys the Chambercombe Manor it may or may not be available to visit in the future so I will add their website link in the description for you to check if you would like to visit

Explore Chambercombe Manor with us and listen to the ghostly tales below

Leave a Comment