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First posted by Craig Tuminaro, former Director of Museum Interpretation, on February 20, 2009
A recent comment from a blog reader inspired me to compose a response to the often-asked question: Is Drayton Hall haunted? I can say with 100% certainty that you can see ghosts at Drayton Hall—ghost marks that is, the faded outlines of pictures and now-missing architectural elements that once adorned some interior walls. But could there also be spiritual remnants that have been “left behind” by one or more of Drayton Hall’s occupants, ethereal counterparts to the faded lines and layers of history embedded within the walls?
Many people—visitors and staff alike—will say: “Absolutely yes, Drayton Hall IS haunted” while others will just as strongly say the opposite. Several visitors believe they have captured photographic evidence of ghosts or other spiritual beings inside the house; shadows, circles, or oddly bright areas appear, seemingly without explanation. Drayton Hall was featured on an episode of America’s Most Haunted Places that aired on The Travel Channel in 2003 with the claim that “original family members are said to still walk” through the house. Members of our staff were interviewed and described their encounters with something they felt sure was “not of this world.” Others still have reported unusual experiences not in the house, but in different areas across the grounds.
Over the course of its history, hundreds of people knew Drayton Hall as home. While some were here by choice, others had no option. And of those hundreds, we know many were born here, and many died here as well. It took many hands to build and fashion the place that became Drayton Hall, and many more to sustain it and shape its future over time. Is it possible that one, two, or several of those that were once here have somehow remained behind?
The tendency at historic sites is often to shy away from or just flat out ignore this aspect of their history. Ironically though, it is one that really seems to grab people’s attention. At a preserved site like Drayton Hall, where every layer is visible, where it seems like you can almost reach out and touch the past, it’s hard not to feel the presence of something out of the ordinary. We invite you to come and experience the house and grounds for yourself, and to let you decide whether Drayton Hall is haunted or not. Will you feel the presence of the past—be it a true “ghost,” a puff of cold air, or maybe just the spine tingle of being able to share in such a rare and special place?
Will we ever then have a definitive answer to the question? My sense is no. For skeptics like me, the evidence would have to be extremely compelling, Instead, I find the fingerprints of the brick maker you can still see and feel in some of the bricks, or the stained area of a wall thought to be perhaps from the hands of an enslaved attendant who stood in waiting with their hands behind them, or the penciled lines marking the heights of the Drayton children in the l800s, or the peaceful, cool quiet in the once-bustling raised basement, to be “haunting” reminders of the many things Drayton Hall has been in the course of almost three centuries of history.
Did you experience anything supernatural while visiting Drayton Hall? If so, please share your stories and photos with us in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.