The Highclere Grampus

The Highclere Grampus

The Highclere Grampus surely has to rate as the strangest of all the Hampshire folktales?

Did a Grampus live in the Yew tree?
Did a Grampus live in the Yew tree?

This is an extremely peculiar story attached to Highclere, whose name has become synonymous with the fictional ‘Downton Abbey’ TV series written by Julian Fellowes but this story is in another realm of fiction altogether.

The folktale involves a creature called a Grampus, which is a historical name for the Orca meaning big fish. Highclere appears to have had a Grampus, a big fish living in a yew tree in the church yard of the Highclere Estate Chapel.

Highclere estate chapel
Highclere estate chapel

This creature apparently terrified the local population by emitting wheezing grunting noises and chasing anyone who got too close. All rather difficult one would think for a big fish who lived in a tree.

The beast was eventually exorcised by a local clergyman who banished the animal to the Red Sea for a thousand years. Hopefully the thousand years are not up anytime soon or it will have to appear as an interesting adjunct in the next series of Downton and what would the Dowager Countess of Grantham say about that?

Grampus

Hartley Wespall Church

Hartley Wespall church has is a timber framed C14th structure with a glorious roof which is repeated at the west gable and visible from the outside.

Hangman Hawley and Scotland

Hangman Hawley and Scotland

The connection between Scotland and Hampshire at the time of Union can be found in the grave of Henry Hawley at Hartley Wintney Hmpshire

Tudor Bramshott Place

Tudor Bramshott Place

The tudor house at Bramshott Place has long gone but it’s gatehouse still stands, albeit in splendid isolation. There was a manor and estate at Bramshott at the time of Domesday. By the late C16th a wealthy cloth merchant from Godalming named John Hooke purchased the esate and built for himself and his family, a…

Yew Tree Newton Valance Church Yard

Yew Tree Newton Valance Church Yard

The yew tree in Newton Valance church yard is probably a thousand years old, before the Normans set foot here.

St Boniface and Nursling

St Boniface and Nursling

A man named Winfrith and born in Devon became known as the ‘Apostle of Germany’. The humble Winfrith became St Boniface and his story started to take root in Nursling Hampshire. At Nursling (Bede refered to it as Nhutscelle), where the River Test winds towards the sea, one of the earliest Benedictine monastries was founded….