In this glorious mansion resides a mentally ill spirit, a young person, a spirit mad at itself and a loyal servant who still serves.
DESCRIPTION / HISTORY
Hampton House was the dream mansion of Charles Ridgely, a very successful businessman who started building it in 1772 and completed it in 1790, just before Charles died. Hampton House is thought to be the largest and most magnificent Georgian mansion of the post-Revolutionary War. Six state champion trees, a huge terraced garden, and over twenty buildings, including slave quarters give visitors a glimpse of the layout of a great slave estate.
The master carpenter, Jehu Howell, is credited with much of the design. The mansion has a 2 and a half story main section, which is capped with a cupola and flanked with one story wings. Charles’ nephew, Charles Carnan Ridgely, who was the governor of Maryland, (1815-1818), added several ambitious improvements, such as beautiful, vast, formal gardens, improved landscaping, and top-notch horse stables. This impressive mansion was the scene of elaborate, dinner parties for the state’s important government people and friends. It was good that the place was so big, because Mr. & Mrs. Charles Ridgely had eleven children.
Throughout the years, well into the 20th century, various members of the Ridgely family lived there on the property. The family kept the estate in the family by selling off parcels of land, opening a dairy supplying milk to local schools, and pressing apples into cider.
The Ridgely family owned this grand mansion until 1948, when the Avalon Foundation bought Hampton House, who then in turn eventually gave it to the federal government. Because of Hampton House’s outstanding architectural merit, mansion and 60 acres are designated a national historic site in 1948. John Ridgely Jr. and his wife continued to live at Hampton, residing in the farmhouse.The mansion was opened for tours for the first time.
In 1979, The National Park Service took over administration of the mansion and its surviving 60 acres.
Hampton House has three known ghosts, 2 unknown ghosts, and has a history of three unexplained psychic phenomena.
who was the wife of Charles Carnan Ridgely, suffered from constant, mental depression, took little interest in their 11 children, and spent a lot of time in seclusion up in her room, away from everyone. As time went on, she became more and more mentally unbalanced. She died a very unhappy woman.
a) She has been seen at Hampton House, dressed in a gray gown, wandering through the vast hallways, passages, and various rooms, places where she shied from during her painful life. She seems to be searching for the happiness she couldn’t find when she was alive. She has been seen by visitors, family members, and the Hampton House National Park Staff.
b) Many years after Priscilla died, a new bride of one of her descendants heard a faint, weak tapping at the front door. Opening the door, she found a “thin, frail woman,” dressed only in a plain dress and cap, with no coat, peering longingly through the opened door. The compassionate, kind young bride immediately invited this confused, wistful woman in to warm herself by the large fire in the fireplace. The woman quickly turned and vanished into thin air, right in front of the very surprised would-be hostess.
who lived in the 1800s, was the blue-eyed, blond haired, young daughter of Governor Swann. After surviving a serious illness, she came to stay at Hampton House, to fully recover in the country air. Governor Swann’s wife, Eliza, adored young Cygnet.
One morning, Cygnet came to breakfast, looking very pale, exhausted, with her hair matted, tangled around her face. She told Eliza about her terrifying dream, about being chased around a wheat field by a horrid man with a scythe, telling her he was going to kill her, one way or another. Eliza, trying to comfort the child, told her it was just a dream, and had her relax on the porch. That night Eliza staged a ball to cheer up young Cygnet. When she didn’t come down to join the party, a servant found her slumped over her dressing table, clutching her hair brush, dead. Her death was called “mysterious” by the doctor.
a) Cygnet has been seen by visitors, family members, and the National Park Staff over the years in her old northwest bedroom, sitting in her satin ball gown, combing her beautiful blond hair.
b) Harpsichord music has been heard coming from Cygnet’s bedroom.
Tom, the Faithful Butler –
Was born at Hampton House, and served the Ridgely family faithfully his whole life. He died around late 1890s -1900. It seems that he didn’t want to retire.
On a cold, January afternoon, during the 1920s or 30s, a young woman, fascinated by historical houses, decided to take the Ridgely’s up on their offer to “drop in anytime.” A “formerly dressed butler” answered the door. He told her that although the family was gone for the day, he would be glad to show her around. As he proceeded with the tour, he told her great details of the family history, identified family portraits and told stories of the people in them, which amazed and delighted his avid listener, who appreciated his devotion and his knowledge. When she tried to tip him, he told her that “I need for nothing.” Several days later, she called Mrs. Ridgely on the phone. Much to her surprise, she learned from Mrs. Ridgely, that currently there was no butler. Mrs. Ridgely identified the mysterious tour guide as being that of old Tom, who had served them for many years, but died thirty years ago.
Unknown Ghost # 1 –
Over the years, this specter is fond of roaming around the mansion, around midnight, opening doors. Family members, guests, and Hampton House National Park Service personnel have heard latches lifted, bolts withdrawn, doors opened, and the scrape of the iron bar that opens the main door to the Great Hall. When checked, nothing has been moved.
Unknown Ghost #2 –
The old tack room was rated the noisiest and busiest by Hampton House Park employees. In a room where the windows and doors are kept tightly closed, Rangers has heard chains being beaten against the walls, and when they check out the racket, they find that the saddles and harnesses are swinging merrily back and forth on the pegs in the walls as well. Some experts say that it may well be Jehu Howell, the original carpenter of Hampton House, who is haunting the tack room. In November of 1787, after being paid for work rendered, $6,000 and 68 quarts of rum, he got himself roaring drunk, and rode his horse into a rain-swollen creek, where he and the horse drowned.
1) The National Park Service learned that one of the unseen inhabitants of Hampton House does not approve of setting up exhibitions in the Great Hall. When the Great Hall was used for an exhibition, a Ranger on duty in the middle of the night was brought running to the Great Hall by a terrifying crash. He discovered that all the display racks had been thrown against the floor.
2) Haunted Chandeliers – Over the 150 years that the Ridgely family lived at Hampton, the deaths of the first ladies were foretold, when the dreaded crash of the chandelier was heard, though it really didn’t fall. This happened one Easter to the fifth Mrs. Ridgely. She died 24 hours after this phenomena.
3) When the Master of Hampton House died away from home, his soul arrived home in a ghostly coach. While Charles Ridgely IV was on vacation in Italy, the caretaker of Hampton House was awakened one cold, snowy night by the tingling of sleigh bells and thudding hooves, like a coach was arriving. When she looked out the door, nothing was there, and the snow wasn’t disturbed. When the news arrived the next day of Charles Ridgely’s death, the family was already in mourning.
However, the official statement from the National Park Service insists that the place isn’t haunted, though individuals who work there and psychics who visit claim that it is.
535 Hampton Lane
Towson, Maryland 21204
Built just 10 miles North of Baltimore, in Towson, Maryland, on an estate of originally 2000 acres.
- All Photos from nps.gov