Burton Agnes Hall is a house of immense charm and character. It has many unusual features and is fortunate in suffering so little from alterations or additions in its history. The family stress that it is a ‘lived-in’ home and this welcome quality is perhaps its most appealing asset. Since the Norman Manor House was built by Roger de Stuteville in 1173 the property has never changed hands by sale, though it has at times passed from family to family.
The ghost of Katherine (Anne) Griffith, who died at Burton Agnes Hall in 1620, is reputed to have haunted the Queen’s State Bedroom. Anne Griffith was the youngest of the three sisters whose portrait hangs in the Inner Hall, daughters of Sir Henry Griffith who built the Hall. The story is that Anne had watched the building of the new house and could talk and think of nothing else; it was to be the most beautiful house ever built. When it was almost finished Anne went one afternoon to visit the St. Quintins at Harpham about a mile away, but near St. John’s Well was attacked and robbed by ruffians. She was brought home to Burton Agnes but was so badly hurt that she died a few days afterwards.
Sometimes delirious, sometimes sensible, she told her sisters that she would never rest unless part of her could remain in ‘our beautiful home as long as it shall last’. She made them promise that when she was dead her head should be severed and preserved in the Hall forever, and to pacify her, the sisters agreed. However when Anne died, she was buried in the churchyard.
Then the ghost walked and scared the life out of everybody. Remembering Anne’s dying words, the sisters took counsel with the vicar and eventually agreed that the grave should be opened. The skull was brought into the house and so long as it was undisturbed, the Hall was peaceful and untroubled. Many attempts have been made to get rid of it. Once it was thrown away, another time it was buried in the garden, but always the ghost walked with tremendous noise and upheaval. The skull is still in the house, built into one of the old walls, probably in the Great Hall. Nobody knows for sure just where it is but now she can watch over ‘her beautiful home’.