Constructed in the first half of Henry VIII’s reign, Layer Marney Tower is in many ways the apotheosis of the Tudor Gatehouse. The building is principally the creation of Henry 1st Lord Marney, who died in 1523, and his son John, who continued the building work but died just two years later, leaving no male heirs to continue the family line or the construction. What was completed was the main range measuring some three hundred feet long, the principal gatehouse that is about eighty feet tall, an array of outbuildings, and a new church.
The buildings suffered considerable damage from the Great English Earthquake of 1884, and a subsequent report in The Builder magazine described the state of the house as such that ‘the outlay needed to restore the towers to anything like a sound and habitable condition would be so large that the chance of the work ever being done appears remote indeed’. Fortunately the repairs were begun, by brother and sister Alfred and Kezia Peache, who re-floored and re-roofed the gatehouse, as well as creating the garden to the south of the Tower.
The next owner was Walter de Zoete who carried on and expanded the work, with a team of 13 domestic and 16 outside staff. He enlarged the gardens, built a folly known as the Tea House (converted to a self catering holiday cottage in 1999), and converted the stables into a Long Gallery where he housed his collection of furniture, paintings and objets d’arts. As a consequence of all this work it would be fair to say that the interior owes more to the Edwardian aesthetic of Walter de Zoete than to the Marneys.
Walter de Zoete lost money in the Japanese stock market crash, and sold the house to a Dr and Mrs Campbell. The house came to the present owners, the Charringtons, in 1959. Gerald and Susan Charrington were married in Layer Marney church in 1957; two years later Mrs Campbell’s executors put the house up for sale and the Charringtons purchased it. It has been occupied by the Charrington family ever since.
One of the rooms in the tower is said to be haunted. Workmen have heard doors being slammed, but the only door is rusted shut. Not only that, but people have also seen a cloaked figure outside this very door.
First Broadcast: 3rd November 2009
A self confessed super fan of Most Haunted and editor of GhostMag.com. Matt’s passion for ghost hunting began when he moved into a haunted house in his second year of university in Leicester! His favourite location is the Niddry Street Vaults in Edinburgh.