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Crowsley Park

Originally set out as a deer park, Crowsley Park has a number of footpaths running through it allowing members of the public to see the trees and sweeping avenues radiating out from the house.

Perhaps best known for its part in the Sherlock Holmes mystery story The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, Crowsley Park has another, less well known, ghost story attached to it. That story is recounted on the BBC WW2 People's War website in a first hand account.

During the War the BBC stationed operators at the Park. One evening, when about to carry out the routine testing of the diesel generator, the narrator of the story was approached by an elderly man who said a`gentlemen' in the house was very ill and asked they did not test the generator that night due to the noise.

Later that night, 2am on Saturday morning, the narrator and his colleague were heading for the canteen to get a meal when:

"we heard the sound of some dogs barking from the Harpsden side of the park, far off. The sounds grew louder and nearer and nearer. It was now the sound of a large pack of hounds in full cry! We felt terrified, shivers went up our necks and we took to our heels and ran, as though for our lives, until we reached the canteen door, opened it in haste, went inside and slammed the door shut!"

When they mentioned the sound of the pack of dogs no one else apeared to have heard it despite them being in full cry.

The following day they again met the old man who stopped to thank them for not running the generator, informing them the gentleman passed away last night. It was at this point the narrator recounted the brush with the pack of hounds the previous night. This is what the old man replied...

Many years ago, an engagement party for the eldest son of the Baskerville family and his fiance was taking place in the mansion. It is possible that this was a marriage of convenience because it transpired that the young lady did not want this marriage and was in fact in love with the younger son. During the party the young lovers decided to elope. They quietly left the party, mounted a horse and rode off into the park to the far side, intending through a minor exit.

However, their disappearance was soon noticed. The head of the family ordered that the hounds should be given the scent of the son and released in order to track them. This was quickly done and a posse of riders and hounds set off in pursuit of the hapless couple.

It was not long before the hounds overtook the couple. They set about the younger son, tearing him to pieces by the time the followers had reached them. The father was so distraught and so remorseful that he ordered all the hounds should be immediately destroyed. Since that time, whenever a Baskerville dies, the ghosts of those hounds run through the park in full cry!

Was the story true? For the BBC operator it certainly seemed so. If true, some of the trees in this park may well have born mute witness to those tragic events. No mention is made of the girl. Did she perhaps manage to to seek safety in the branches of then much younger trees, helped up by the doomed Baskerville?

Extracts are from a story by Dennis Faulkner, WW2 People's War

Location

On Blounts Court Road

Grid Reference

SU731800

Facilities

Walks and rides (on bridleway)

Getting There

Parking nearby

Disabled Access

No sealed paths

Owner

Forestry Commission

Location

Between Henley-On-Thames and Reading, near Binfield Heath

OS Map

Sheet 175: Reading & Windsor

Dogs Allowed

Dogs under supervision

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