The Old House Museum - 'An untidy visitor'
There is a story of a ghost at The Old House musuem but as the building dates back to 1621 it's no surprise that the house as it's very own resident ghost.
The Old House was part of a block of shops and houses ,the street name that the house was on ran through the south side of town and was called Butcher's Row. It is known that it was named this because the Butcher trade on this row was very popular and so there was many butcher's .
The Old House was more than likely the home of a master Butcher, the arms on the Butcher's Guild are carved on a shield over the door in the south porch, this could indicate this. The Old House also bears the date 1621 on carved shields. It has been said that the whole house construction was the work of John Abel who was a known architect back in the day and who worked on several buildings but this cannot be for certain because unfortunately there are no records proving this.
In 1816 other buildings on the row started to get demolished ,however The Old House survived through this probably due to a resistant tenant ,in 1862 the house stood alone and has done ever since.
The first ever occupant of the house is believed to have been John Jones and he lived at the house with his wife. In 1664 Mary Jones and Griffith Greenway were joint occupants of the house. From 1665 many Butcher's occupied the house amongst many other residents including a Saddler named George Smith in 1868 and in 1882 Edwin Gurney who was a local Grocer bought the house and then sold it to Worcester City and County Banking Company.
Over the years the house has been used for many retail trades such as a Saddlers, a China, Glass and Hardware shop, a Wet-Fish Shop and it's last public trade was when the house was Lloyds bank in 1882. The bank kept running up until 1928 when the house was given to the City of Hereford and was then turned into a Public Museum. The house has undergone many alterations since it was first constructed although many of it's original features have been lost over time. The timber-framed three storey house still has it's original wooden structure and it has one original wall painting on the ground floor. The furniture in the house represents a range of dates from as early as 1500 to the early 18th century. There are also four cradles in the house and each of these all have the rocking function, the cradles date from the late 1800's to the early 1900's.
The house also has many other items of interest including a 15th century fireplace which is on the ground floor, this fireplace was originally from a house in Eign Street and the four poster bed came from Penrhyn Old Hall, Llandudno, this bed is dated 1625 and it has beautiful carvings and decoration all over it's fine structure. The large mahogany table in the main room on the ground floor dates back to around 1571 and is personally inscribed for Richard and Martha Harford. Another delicate item on the ground floor is a large oak cupboard that has the initials of 'I W' on it's side panels, this cupboard is believed to belong to the Westfaling family of Berrington Street.
There are many pieces of furniture in the house that are personalized more than likely to prove that they owned the furniture or to perhaps celebrate a family occasion such as marriage or births.
There is also an indication that the house also used wallpapers and most definitely Murals would of been painted directly onto plaster panels. Upon visiting the house, you will find that the furniture is placed and arranged to act out a 17th century style home, however there is uncertainty on what each room was used for.It is unknown where the kitchen of the house originally was, it was more than likely in one of the main ground floor rooms but on the east end of the house as when the house was a shop the general public would of had access to part of the ground floor.
It is believed that the ghost of the house likes to spend time in the bedrooms on the second floor. The 1625 four poster bed in the main bedroom is haunted as the curtains on the bed close by themselves on regular occasions and the bed in the smaller room as been found to have unmade itself presumably by ghostly hands.
I had a feeling for years that The Old House was haunted due to the fact that a family member of mine walked past the house one late night and saw a man of a ghostly form walk up the stairs which no one could explain because the house is always locked up at the end of the working day.
The Old House is one of the glories of Hereford, with its striking black and white appearance and it's beautiful wooden carvings and structure the house is a local treasure.
Haunted Hereford have been asked by the Old House Museum to inform all members of the public that the museum will NOT allow paranormal investigations .