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Winchcombe Mysteries


Winchcombe Mysteries No: 1


Where is it?

In his book The Haunted Cotswolds, Bob Meredith tells of a haunting, occurring during 1964-5, on the opposite side of town from Abbey Terrace, in a house with a semi-basement kitchen.

One evening, the occupant became aware of a shadow in one corner of the kitchen, which gradually assumed the form of an old woman. She had a thin, pock-marked face and long white hair in plaits, and she was wearing a long, old-fashioned dress made of lace. Behind her was visible a strange outline of a trench that seemed to run right through the kitchen wall into the bank behind it. Gradually, the image faded.

The most distressing things about the sighting were the overwhelming feeling of sadness which weighed upon the occupant and a nauseating smell of rotting flesh.

Where is the house?

Who was the occupant?

Who was the old woman?

Winchcombe Mysteries: No: 2


Where is it?

In 1864, while Belas Knap was being excavated, Frederick Simmons was the first to enter the north west chamber. Inside, he found 12 skeletons all in sitting positions and this curious flint knife, which was about 5 inches long. He handed it to Dr Bird from Cheltenham, who was very excited.



Lauriston Winterbotham, the archaeologist in charge, was not present, and he wrote in his official report that no flints were found! 

Was he lying or did Dr Bird keep the knife and fail to report it?

Who was Dr Bird?

Where is the knife now?

So, If you know the answers, or have any clues, we would love to hear from you. Just email:

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Winchcombe Mysteries: No: 3


What is it?

When Belas Knap was excavated in the 1860s, this circle of stones was uncovered in the centre of the barrow. Vincent Brooks drew it and called it the remains of an altar.

Wood ash was found in the middle of the circle. Did it have religious significance, or did the surviving members of the clan just sit around the fire to feel close to their family and friends, as we visit the graves of our loved ones?

What is it?

So, If you know the answers, or have any clues, we would love to hear from you. Just email:

Winchcombe Mysteries: No: 4

 What is it?

Experts have differing views about this unusual stone bowl, found in a garden in North Street.

  • Is it a holy water stoup? 

     If so, why does it have handles and spouts?

  • Is it an oil lamp? 

    If so, why is there no evidence of burning?

  • Is it a Roman mortarium, used for grinding herbs and spices?

    If so, why is it so large and heavy when Roman mortaria are typically made of pottery?

So, If you know the answers, or have any clues, we would love to hear from you. Just email:

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Winchcombe Mysteries: No: 5


Where is it?

In 1789, Winchcombe’s first fire engine was bought by public subscription. It was housed in St Peter’s Church until 1846, when it was moved to the Booth Hall.

In 1891, a new fire engine was bought and the old one given to Emma Dent for display as a museum piece at Sudeley Castle.


Where is it now?

Winchcombe Mysteries: No: 6


Where is it?

When Spoonley Villa was discovered and excavated in 1882, several mosaic floors were found. Emma Dent roofed over the best-preserved mosaics, but one was so badly damaged by tree roots that she had a section depicting a man with a rake taken up, framed and removed to the Castle.


Where is it now?


Winchcombe Mysteries: No: 7


Where is it?

Winchcombe Mysteries: Who wrote it?

Matthew Brown of the Wesley House bought a hand-written history of Winchcombe at auction and donated it to the museum. As you can see, the author did not give his name. 

To whom is it dedicated? 

  • Possibly the Venerable John Timbrell, Vicar of Beckford and Archdeacon of Gloucester 

  • Or John Timbrell Esq. for whom a wall plaque in St Peter’s Church was erected by his daughters.

Who wrote it?

The writer gives his address as Virginia Terrace in London, so he might have been a London man or a highly educated Winchcombe man, staying in London. 

Learn about the suggestions and the evidence in An Anonymous History of Winchcombe, 1837, available from Winchcombe Museum and The Cotswold Eye Care Centre


Where is it now?

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Winchcombe Mysteries No: 8


Whose Ghost?


There are reports of at least one ghost in the basement of the Sue Ryder shop on the corner of Hailes Street and North Street.


This old house was demolished on the site so that the present building could be built. It was drawn by Edmund Thomas Browne, High Bailiff and antiquarian, and the carved bargeboard now hangs in Winchcombe Museum.


What is the tragic story behind the restless spirit that haunts the site?

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Winchcombe Mysteries No: 9


Kenulph’s Palace?


D.N. Donaldson writes: “In view of the town’s importance as a centre of Mercian royal estate management at the beginning of C9, it is likely that the Mercian kings would have established a building they could use as a royal household and court at Winchcombe. The Ordnance Survey sheets … published in 1884 and 1923 indicate the site at the east end of Abbey Terrace as the ‘supposed site of King Kenulph’s palace’ “.

E.T. Browne, High Bailiff and antiquarian, writing in 1857, reported hearsay evidence about the site now occupied by the Coventry Building Society that “some of the aged inhabitants … could remember there the remains of an apparently very ancient pile .... consisting of arches and oddly shaped architectural masses and affirmed that their forefathers had been accustomed to point to the spot and observe that ‘there stood King Kenulph’s Palace.’ ”

Next to the building society, in Abbey Terrace, stands Bleby House. InGloucestershire: The Cotswolds, [ed. Nikolaus Pevsner], David Verey wrote that, inside Bleby House, “the basement room at the back has nice C17 stone archways with keystones and imposts.” So is it possible that the arches on the building society site were also C17 rather than Saxon?

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Winchcombe Mysteries No: 10


What is it?


Winchcombe Museum is housed in the former magistrate’s court.

This very large pot was used by the magistrates to hold their umbrellas and walking sticks. However, it is very unlikely that that was its original purpose. It is all in one piece, and there is a deep rim around the opening.

What was it intended to do?

  • A butter churn?

But the top does not come off, so it would be impossible to clean

  • A cider bottle?

Unwieldy to hold and pour, and there is no spout.

The opening is quite narrow for dipping into.

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