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BRAYWICK HOUSE
Braywick Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 1DL

I first learned about Braywick House when I saw it on a beautifully illustrated poster of "ghostly things" around Maidenhead on the classroom wall in a 1985 Desborough maths lesson. These posters by Michael Bayley (architect), as far as I know, are still available to buy at Maidenhead Library. Originally published in 1975, the copies I have were augmented and re-released in 1986. There's a few different ones available too - so go and check them out. Anyway, next to an illustration of Braywick House, it mentioned a mysterious "White Lady." I wanted to know more.

In 1988, under the guise of "school project" (when in reality it was just teenage curiosity), myself and friend Nik turned up unannounced on the doorstep of Braywick House with a video camera and a whole bunch of questions. At the time, the place was the head office for Laura Ashley, and rather than waste their time with elaborate floral curtain designs, a few staff decided it might be more fun to show a couple of kids around. What surprised us more than anything else was the fact that not a single employee had heard of the ghost stories. I still have the videotape showing the horrified reactions of the workers being told that the ghost is supposed to stroll casually out of the window in their little top floor office. I still wonder how many may have resigned in fright following our little foray.

The building also features some wonderful old cellars (in which Oliver Cromwell is rumoured to have once stabled horses) and, although it has never been officially open to the public, I'd encourage anyone with an interest in historic architecture to try and arrange a visit with the present tenants.


"The Red Room", ground floor - Seriously, that's what it's called

As for the actual ghost stories, here's an account taken from a leaflet entitled "A Short History of Braywick House" put together by former tenants Pandair Freight Limited (undated but most likely from the early 70s). I would suppose that this leaflet is all but impossible to track down these days, so here we go - verbatim in the name of historical preservation:

"In common with many old houses, Braywick House is said to be haunted and has over the years been credited with many different kinds of ghosts. On one occasion in 1914 every servant sleeping in the attic was awakened by footsteps, but the origin of these footsteps was never resolved although they were loud and unmistakable and they have been heard many times since. Then there is the legend of the White Lady. She comes up from the tunnel which is covered inside with oyster shells through which runs the stream on its way to The Cut. She walks over the bridge and passes through the front door of the house and up the main staircase along the passage and out of the study window, the last window on the east side."


Internal and external view of the window supposedly used by The White Lady

"There is also the tale told of two women servants cleaning the main staircase who stepped aside for a gentleman in what they described as "old fashioned clothes." Afterwards they found that there had been no such gentleman, nor could there have been one at that time."

"In more recent times, Mr. Kenneth Pratt, assistant to Mr. Thornton Smith of Shoppenhangers' Manor, states most firmly that he has, on many occasions, been conscious of unpleasant presences in the attic rooms - something is there, or something opens a door and his experiences have been shared by others."

So there you have it. With regard to the above, we did once try (albeit not particularly hard) to locate the oyster covered tunnel to The Cut (a stream which still exists) but to no avail. If anyone is after a small adventure within the confines of Maidenhead - there's a mission staring you in the face. As for the mysterious gentleman and his "old fashioned clothes", perhaps it was a just a rep from Laura Ashley scouting for a future head office? You never know...


"The Blue Room", ground floor - Imaginitive, right?

Oh, and before I forget, the leaflet text reproduced here is just the "haunting" bits - if anyone is interested in the general history of the house, I'll be more than happy to get the rest of the text off to you given that I'm fortunate enough to have a copy - just contact us.

 

Damon Torsten,
January 2002


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