Springhill House was constructed in the 17th-century and was home to ten generations of the Lenox-Conyngham family. Today, the house and gardens are under the care of the National Trust, and visitors can now explore the beautifully preserved house, still adorned with art and original furnishings.
The ghost story associated with Springhill House arises from a family tragedy.
George Lenox-Conyngham was away from home, serving in the Irish Volunteers under Robert Stewart, Viscount of Castlereagh, when he received word that his children had contracted smallpox. Like any good father, he became agitated and wanted to return home to be with them. As he was leaving, he encountered Stewart and believed that he would understand his plight as the two were friends and he had been made aware of the illness at home.
But his trust was misplaced.
Shortly after George returned home, his initial hope for his children’s recovery was torn apart when one of his daughters died. The grieving father then received the further devastating news that Robert Stewart had reported him for desertion and that he was to face a court martial. He subsequently resigned from his post. The death of a child, the betrayal by a friend, and his humiliation in the eyes of his peers resulted in the poor man succumbing to a great depression. For two years, he struggled to continue, buoyed by the love and support of his wife and children, but this was not enough. On the 20th of November 1816, he took a pistol and retired to his room with the intention of taking his own life. Olivia sensed that something was very, very wrong and ran to the chamber, only to witness her husband pulling the trigger. He died two days later.
Some say Olivia’s ghost is seen to this day, dashing towards the blue room in the misguided hope that she can intervene and save her husband, but most witnesses say she is walking calmly through the house or spotted standing on the staircase.
The kindly soul is said to be particularly fond of children and they are considered most likely to see her. When the nursery was still in use, Olivia’s ghost was said to appear on occasion, checking on the children and making sure all was well. During the second world war when US soldiers were staying at Springhill House, Olivia’s cot in the nursery was said to rock, causing a knocking sound. The soldiers asked for the cot to be removed, and the knocking stopped. But when the war ended, the cot was returned, and the knocking started again.
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