Sutton House is said to be the oldest house in Hackney and the second oldest in the whole of the East End of London. It can be dated back to 1535 when it was built for Sir Ralph Sadleir who was then the Principal Secretary of State to King Henry VIII. Its original name was Bryck Place.
Over the centuries it has had various owners including sea captains, Huguenot silk weavers, Victorian schoolmistresses, Edwardian members of the clergy, a boys’ school, a Union headquarters and now the National Trust. For a house with a long history you would expect a few ghosts – and there are.
They seem to revolve around a wealthy wool merchant – John Machell – who owned and lived in the property during the mid-sixteenth century. It has been reported that at the dead of night when Sutton House is deserted, you can sometimes hear the wailing of hounds coming from within. These are said to come from dogs owned by Machell and they can be seen on his coat of arms. It has been said that many dogs become disturbed if they are brought into the house and stand at the bottom of the staircase.
We also have two female ghosts who are said to have been witnessed in the house. The first is known as the White Lady and she is believed to be the wife of John Machell the Younger. Her name was Frances and she died on the 11th May 1574 giving birth to twins. She is said to appear as a shimmering wraith gliding around the rooms.
Finally we have a fairly recent encounter. In the 1990s there is a report of a student studying architecture staying overnight at Sutton House. He says that he suddenly woke up to find a woman in a blue dress hovering above his bed. This is not the only time such a ghost has materialised – one of the house attendants reported that he also awoke to find the same apparition in attendance. However this time he said his bed was violently shaken as well. From time to time there are also stories of poltergeist activity with objects being thrown around and sudden drops in temperature which cannot be easily explained.
Sutton House is often open to the public…if you dare.
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