Leigh House

The Civil War -Father against son -a tragic tale

This is an interesting story about Leigh House. If you look at the fifth banister post from the bottom of the stairs, you will see that there is a deep groove in it, as though it was made by a pistol ball. It is not surprising, as it was made by a pistol ball. In the Civil War, the house was held by an old Henley man and his two sons for the King.
They occupied themselves escorting convoys of arms and gold from the West Country ports to Bath, which was loyal to the King. The war went badly for them, and eventually the younger son was killed when the convoy was ambushed and wiped out. But the elder son carried on, despite rumours that there was a spy in their midst.

Towards the end of the war, the King was very short of supplies and arms. A final great convoy was planned and the elder son was in charge. It was a time of great anxiety for the old man. Eventually, word came through that the whole convoy had been  wiped  out,  with no news of the son. A few hours later there was the sound of horses outside. The door opened and the son burst in accompanied by three or four Roundheads, all armed. The old man was sitting by the fireplace in his chair.

Briefly, the son declared that he had been a Roundhead all along, that he was the spy, and that he was now taking over the house and the estate. He, too, had been responsible for his brother's death. 

In a fury, the old man staggered to his feet. He produced a horse pistol from nowhere and shot his son. The ball hit him in the neck, passed through, and lodged in the banister post. Hence the groove, which is there to this day .The picture above shows the groove reputedly created  by the ball of the pistol. It is to be found on the banisters of a staircase in the east wing. The ball  shown in the groove may not be the original, but it is an exact match to the original.

Below: An example of the hoard of  300 Charles 1 gold coins found in the gardens of Leigh House towards the end of the19th Century. No doubt they hidden as a result of the problems described above.

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Page reviewed 26th Sept. 2019