The Haunted House

at the junction of Berry Lane and Beatrice Road

By Alan Davies

The following article by Alan Davies was written as a comment on Nina Humphrey's Beatrice Road and surrounding area article but has started off a whole new line of memories so I have started a new article. You will find references to images on other pages of the site and since linked comments were received a new photograph has come to light I have included them here at the foot of the article for convenience.
Do any of the contributors remember the haunted house? On the south west corner of Berry Lane where it came together with Beatrice Road and Bridge Road, directly across the road from the corner shop stood a large two story abandoned house. The windows were all broken and the inside had paint and wallpaper peeling off the walls. It had obviously been vacant for a considerable time and looked scary to young kids. It had what looked like extensive gardens, completely overgrown, with a small orchard where the uncared for apple trees produced small and meagre fruit. Free for the picking! No need to scrump! A footpath had developed across the property which provided a short cut across the bend in Berry Lane. How long it had been empty and to whom it belonged I have no idea. It looked as if, in its prime, it had been quite superior and larger than the very modest bungalows in the neighbourhood. That was the haunted house. 
The haunted house would appear to be shown on the map. Having said that the map cannot be relied upon entirely. The date of the map is 1938 but it shows only one bungalow in Raglan Road----"Randley" my grandmother's. There was a second bungalow in Raglan Road "Lowlands" where we lived, next door to my grandmother. We had been living there since 1935 and "Lowlands" was built some time prior to that date and yet it does not show on the 1938 map! 
In retrospect, given the housing situation during and after the war I wonder why the haunted house was not fixed up and inhabited. It seemed to be quite sound structurally. Alternatively I wonder why squatters did not move in. The weekly rent on "Lowlands" was twelve shillings and sixpence payable to Rawley the estate agent in his office which sat on pilings opposite Station Approach.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'The Haunted House' page
Photo:Could the House in the background be The Haunted House

Could the House in the background be The Haunted House

Nina Humphrey

Photo:The same house can just be seen on the far right

The same house can just be seen on the far right

Photo:Some of the larger houses up Langdon Hills

Some of the larger houses up Langdon Hills

This page was added by Ian Mott on 21/10/2012.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Alan. I am still trying to unearth some information on the haunted house and during one of my research sessions I discovered the name of the other large house you mentioned in Berry Lane where the Chapman family lived. It was called “Fairlight".

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 21/09/2013

We have now been able to establish that the house in the distance in the second photograph above isn’t the ‘haunted house’. It is in fact ‘Courtfield’ which still stands in Vowler Road and is now over 100 years old. We are continuing with our efforts to identify the ‘haunted’ house in Berry Lane.

By Nina Humphrey (née Burton)
On 14/02/2013

I remember walking through the garden of this house to and from school, was there a well in there somewhere? The fruit trees there were quite good in the autumn, used to help self to apples etc. I don't remember much about the house, from memory it was very overgrown with bushes and creepers etc, mind you I'm talking over 55 years ago!!

By Ken Page
On 24/10/2012

Oh hurry up please, need more information now - its better than a book!

By Andrea
On 23/10/2012

Dad (Bob Davies) remembers the house opposite Lungleys, he and his mate Lenny Hudson used to sit on the bank outside waiting for the milkman to come around the corner to deliver to Lungleys, Lenny would leap out grab a bottle of milk and they'd retreat into the haunted house to demolish their ill gotten gains. 

He also says hi Alan he'd love to get in touch with you.

By Lynn Cooper (née Davies)
On 21/10/2012

Nina, very interesting. After your comments it came to me that there was another substantial two story house in Berry Lane. As you come down Berry Lane from Langdon Hills it does a left turn at the junction with Samuel Road and then a right turn after a few yards continuing down toward the corner shop. The house to which I refer was immediately prior to the right hand turn. This house was also in a very sad and dilapidated state although it was inhabited. The Chapman family lived there with children Grace, Arthur and Ronnie. Ronnie, the youngest, was my age. I wonder if the haunted house and the Chapman house were both built by Isaac Levy? That would make five in the area would it not? 

When the first pair of new houses on the King Edward estate was completed they were given to the Chapman family and to my family. These were numbers 1 and 2 King Edward Terrace. Scarcity of building materials was always delaying construction in this austerity period right after the war and it transpired that the number 2 move-in date would be delayed two or three weeks. My father and Mr Chapman tossed a coin to determine who would take number 1. My father lost. My mother always claimed subsequently that she was glad they had lost the toss because number 1 came with fairly substantial additional land at the side which would have been a chore to maintain.

I wonder why the two houses in Berry Lane were allowed to deteriorate so? Nina, do you know if Isaac Levy built for others or did he own them himself and rented them out? It boggles the mind to think that, in that economy, he could personally own five houses. Perhaps he did and then perhaps, over extended, his finances went south. This might explain why at least two of the houses were allowed to deteriorate to such a degree. He simply could not maintain them. All speculation of course. Can you shed any further light on the questions raised?

By Alan Davies
On 21/10/2012

Alan. What you have written is very interesting indeed. You are correct about the 1938 map. Although it's an excellent guide to roads in the area, it was produced very quickly from a previous map just prior to the war and therefore doesn’t include every single dwelling in every road. In fact at the foot of the map, it states “The roads and buildings added in 1938 were surveyed by rapid methods as an emergency measure”.

I think the ‘Haunted House’ that you mention could well have been one of Isaac Levy’s constructions. He was the builder responsible for most of the superior two storey houses in the vicinity of the High Road, Langdon Hills, i.e. Albany on the corner of High Road and Samuel Road (still standing). Fleetwood Lodge, further up the High Road and of course his own house ‘Primrose Lodge’. (see Old Photographs of Langdon Hills, bottom row, second from left).

The first photo in Ken Porter’s article “The Methodist Church, Langdon Hills” shows an ancient shot of the church that stands on the corner of Emanuel Road. Just visible on the far right, is a large house in the distance (difficult to judge exactly how far) and perhaps could be the house you recall. It is certainly over in the direction that you describe. I think I have a better picture of it somewhere. I will do some more research to see what I can come up with.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 15/10/2012
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