Sun City News editor, Terry Loftus has been tracing his family history over the past ten years and has discovered some intriguing snippets from the Loftus Vault.
In the Australian Dictionary of Biography (Vol 5, 1851-1890), Lord Augustus William Frederick Spencer Loftus was Govenor and Commander-in-Chief of New South Wales from 1879 to 1885.
Loftus left Sydney in November with few cheers. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1866 and sworn of the Privy Council in 1868.
Late in 1887, he was declared bankrupt with liabilities of £62,000. At Linden House, Leatherhead, he wrote four volumes of Diplomatic Reminiscences, which were published in London in two series, one for 1837-62, the other for 1862-79.
Predeceased by his wife on 1 January 1902, and one daughter, he died on 7 March 1904, at Englemere Wood Cottage, near Ascot, and was buried at Frimley.
He was survived by a daughter and three sons, one in the army, the others in the diplomatic service.
Research continues to trace all the family connected to this distinguished gentleman.
Loftus Hall – Haunted
Another surprise goes back a few more centuries to Loftus Hall in Ireland.
Loftus Hall is a large mansion house on the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, Ireland.
Built on the site of the original Redmond Hall, it is said to have been haunted by the devil and the ghost of a young woman.
In about 1170, Sir Alexander Redmond (de Raymond) with his kinsman, Raymond Le Gros, accompanied Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, to Ireland
He acquired certain lands in County Wexford on which he built The Hall, at Houseland near Portersgate.
The Redmond family replaced their original castle with another in about 1350, during the time of the Black Death.
This second castle was also known as The Hall or Redmond Hall.
In 1642, the future Loftus Hall – then still known as Redmond’s Hall – was attacked by English soldiers loyal to Charles I of England.
Between 1870 and 1879, John Henry Wellington Graham Loftus, the fourth Marquess of Ely used the existing structure of Redmond Hall for renovations, resulting in the present Loftus Hall (he did not, as popularly claimed, demolish the old house).
A three storey non-basement mansion, nine bays to the front with a balustraded parapet.
In 1917 Loftus Hall was bought by the Sisters of Providence and turned into a convent and a school for young girls interested in joining the order.
In 1983, it was purchased by Michael Devereau who reopened it as ‘Loftus Hall Hotel’, which was subsequently closed again in the late 1990s.
It was privately owned by Devereau’s surviving family until late 2008, when it was sold to an unnamed buyer, rumoured to be Bono of U2 fame.
It is currently owned by the Quigley family.
In more recent times the hall has been turned into a tourist attraction as a ‘haunted house’ and has a tour of the hall itself as well as a few scary moments here and there.
The name ‘Loftus Hall’ is also applied to the town land surrounding the mansion.
The entire town land of Loftus Hall, including the building itself, can be overlooked from Hook Lighthouse.
Charles Tottenham and his family came to mind the mansion in 1666 while the Loftus family were away on business. Charles Tottenham, his wife and daughter, Anne, were all taking care of the mansion. Charles came for a long stay in the house with his second wife, and his daughter Anne from his first marriage. During a storm, a ship unexpectedly arrived at the Hook Pensulia, which was not far from the mansion.
A young man was welcomed into the mansion. Anne and the young man became very close.
One night, the family and mysterious man were in the card room playing cards. In the game, each player received 3 cards apart from Anne who was only dealt 2 by the mystery man.
A butler serving the Tottenham family at the table was just about to question the man when Anne bent down to pick another card from the floor which she must have dropped.
It is said that when Anne bent over to pick up the card, she looked beneath the table to see that the mysterious man had a cloven foot.
It was then that Anne stood up and said to the man ‘you have a cloven foot’.
The man then went up through the roof, leaving behind a large hole in the ceiling.
Soon after Anne became mentally ill. It is believed that the family were ashamed of Anne and locked her away in her favourite room, known as the Tapestry Room, where she would be happy yet out of everyone’s view.
She refused food and drink and sat with her knees under her chin looking out the Tapestry Room window across the sea to where Dunmore East is today waiting for her mysterious stranger to return.
She died in the Tapestry Room in 1675.
It is said that when she died, they could not straighten her body as her muscles had seized and she was buried in the same sitting position in which she had died.
A rumour states that the hole could never be properly repaired, and it is alleged that even to this day, there is still a certain part of the ceiling which is slightly different from the rest. Meanwhile it was believed that the stranger with the cloven hoof returned to the house causing persistent poltergeist activity.
A number of Protestant clergymen apparently tried and failed to put a stop to this.
The family, who were themselves Protestants, eventually called on Father Thomas Broaders (a Catholic priest, who was also a tenant on the Loftus Hall estate) to exorcise the house.
The apparent success of Father Broaders’ exorcism did not end the ghostly visitations at Loftus Hall.
The ghost of a young woman, presumed to be Anne Tottenham, was reported to have made frequent appearances in the Hall and has been reported to have been seen on the tour which opened in 2011.
Interest in the ghost story has remained strong and many aspects of the story seem to have attached themselves to the house.
Also mentioned in a documentary about the mansion many years later after the last owners had gone said that there were reports from staff who had previously worked at the mansion, that they have seen Anne’s ghost walk down the stairs, and that horses can be heard around the building.
Loftus Hall has been described as the ‘Most Haunted House in Ireland’, regular tours operate from the premises throughout the year.