The disturbing history of Loftus Hall, one of the most haunted residences in the world and the location for 'The Lodgers'

Now constantly the destination of thousands of tourists, Loftus Hall is one of Ireland's most haunted destinations and boasts of a disturbing and tragic past.

The disturbing history of Loftus Hall, one of the most haunted residences in the world and the location for 'The Lodgers'

Located on an isolated stretch of road that runs down Ireland's scenic Hook Peninsula is an ancient, abandoned windswept mansion that has come to become a renowned attraction for paranormal buffs: Loftus Hall. Widely considered to be the country's, if not the world's, most haunted residence, the building boasts a tragic and bloody past. 

Built in 1170 AD, the mansion is located in a gorgeous coastal backdrop but has been witness to numerous invasions, plagues, famine, and disturbing personal tragedies

Having already been represented in 'The Legend of Loftus Hall,' a partially independent documentary film made by Rick Whelan, a namesake feature film titled 'Loftus Hall,' and in an episode of 'Ghost Adventures,' the mansion was most recently the setting of 'The Lodgers,' a 2017 gothic horror film that explores the life of a young woman as she desperately fights to escape the family curse.

The Lodgers explores the lives of two twins cursed by their ancestor's sins (Source: YouTube)
The Lodgers explores the lives of two twins cursed by their ancestor's sins (Source: YouTube)

Directed by Brian O'Malley and produced by Tailored Films, the movie is set in 1920 rural Ireland and revolves around Anglo Irish twins Rachel and Edward, who have to live by the rules of their sinister family estate — represented by Loftus Hall — as a punishment for their ancestor's sins.

Every night, the property serves as a playground to a malevolent presence (The Lodgers) which enforces three rules on the twins: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy.

All is well until troubled war veteran Sean returns to a nearby village and is immediately drawn to Rachel, who in turn begins to break the rules set by the Lodgers, much to her brother's chagrin.

As her brother attempts to prevent Rachel from shaking the cobwebs too much, the two are soon pitted in a deadly confrontation with one another. The movie incorporates all the classic horror tropes — the squeaks, the creaks, and the screams — to tell a compelling story, which the Hollywood Reporter described as "more ominously mysterious than outright terrifying."

A quick look on TripAdvisor will tell you that Loftus Hall has become quite the attraction for tourists. Special events and tours are often conducted in the spooky mansion and have become very popular amongst the throngs of enthusiasts who make the trip down for the undeniably unique experience. But what is it that gives the mansion its eerie and haunting air of resonance? 

A journey through the mansion's history books peers into the building's past:

Loftus Hall has been the setting for many documentaries in the past (Source: Loftus Hall)
Loftus Hall has been the setting for many documentaries in the past (Source: Loftus Hall)

It was in 1170 AD that Raymond Le Gros landed at what is now known as Baginbun - an area that was named after his two ships La Bague et La Bonne - and where he would fight to safeguard the arrival of Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, to Ireland.

He then acquired lands in County Wexford upon which he would build the mansion, which is said to then have fallen into disrepair over the coming centuries. It was then replaced by Raymond's descendants in about 1350, during the Black Death and came to be known as 'The Hall' or 'Redmond Hall.'

Redmond Hall would remain within the family until the mid-1600s when the Irish Confederate would see the castle repeatedly attacked and eventually seized as part of the Cromwellian confiscations, despite heroic attempts of castellan Alexander Redmond; Sixty eight years old at the time, Redmond managed to protect the building from 90 English invaders with the help of just his two sons, two soldiers, and a tailor before eventually giving in to some favorable terms on offer.

The mansion was initially built by Raymond Le Gros (Source: Loftus Hall)
The mansion was initially built by Raymond Le Gros (Source: Loftus Hall)

Alexander Redmond died in 1651 and his family was subsequently evicted from the mansion. It was put up for sale, and was eventually purchased by Henry Loftus in 1666, and promptly renamed as Loftus Hall. It would be from here that one could arguably trace the roots of the castle's mysterious haunting reputation.

Charles Tottenham — related to the Loftus Family after marrying Anne Loftus, the daughter of the first Viscount Loftus — came to take care of the mansion in 1666 with his second wife and daughter from his first marriage, Anne, while the Loftus family were away on business. Many of the tales and happenings in the house stem from the life and death of Anne.

It is said that during a storm of epic proportions, a ship unexpectedly arrived at the Hook Peninsula. A young man who was seeking shelter was welcomed into the mansion and he would soon hit it off with Anne, becoming close to her in the process. One night, while the pair were playing cards in the mansion's cardroom, Anne is said to have bent down to pick up one of the cards dealt to her only to notice that the man had a cloven foot: the mark of the devil.

The Tapestry Room where Anne died (Source: Loftus Hall)
The Tapestry Room where Anne died (Source: Loftus Hall)

When Anne confronted the man about this, he flew up through the roof, leaving behind a large hole in the ceiling. A popular rumor that makes the rounds even to this day claims that the hole could never be fixed properly and that if one pays close attention during their tour of the mansion, they'll notice that one part of the ceiling is slightly different from the rest.

The experience shook Anne, who soon after became mentally ill and was confined to her favorite room, the Tapestry Room, by her ashamed parents. She began refusing food and drink and sat with her knees under her chin, looking out at the window across the sea in a catatonic gaze waiting for the mysterious man to return.

She would die in the Tapestry Room in 1675, with it said that after her death, they could not straighten out her body because it had frozen in the rocking chair position she loved to occupy.

She was buried in the same sitting position she had died in and her grave was completely cemented over. 

Anne's death is said to have triggered a poltergeist haunting (Source: Loftus Hall)
Anne's death is said to have triggered a poltergeist haunting (Source: Loftus Hall)

Folklore states that her death triggered the return of the stranger with the cloven hoof, who would then haunt the house and cause consistent poltergeist activity. The family, who were devout Protestants, called a number of Protestant clergymen to put a stop to the hauntings but failed in their attempts. Desperate, they enlisted the help of Father Thomas Broaders, a Catholic priest, to exorcise the house.

Despite the apparent success of Father Broader's exorcism, the ghostly visitations at Loftus Hall did not come to an end. The ghost of a young woman, who many presume to be Anne Tottenham, was still haunting the Tapestry Room.

Guests who made the mistake of spending their night in the room were awakened by a weight pressing on them or would find that their sheets had been pulled off them in the middle of the night. Since the castle was opened to the public in 2011, several tourists have also claimed to have seen her ghost wandering in its despondent halls.

Take the story of Thomas Beavis, who in 2014 captured a picture that would cement Loftus Hall's status as the most haunted location in Ireland. The then-21-year-old managed to capture a picture which appeared to show the ghostly apparitions of a younger woman - presumably Anne - and an older woman as well. 

Beavis captured this infamous image (Source: Thomas Beavis)
Beavis captured this infamous image (Source: Thomas Beavis)

Over the centuries after Anne's death, the Loftus family quickly climbed the aristocratic ladder and produced barons, viscounts, earls, and marquesses. Aiming to get the monarch, Queen Victoria, to visit, John Henry Loftus embarked upon a renovation of the building between 1870 and 1879 which would see it converted into the three-story mansion we see today. Boasting of a balustraded parapet, a mosaic floor, and a grand staircase snaking its way through the building it would become the envy of many.

Loftus Hall was renovated in the hope that Queen Victoria would visit (Source: Loftus Hall)
Loftus Hall was renovated in the hope that Queen Victoria would visit (Source: Loftus Hall)

But Queen Victoria would never visit, and workers found what appeared to be the skeletal remains of a baby during the restoration process, raising the uncomfortable question of whether Anne had fallen pregnant with the stranger. To the fans of the paranormal and supernatural, that might also offer an explanation as to why the stranger came back to haunt the mansion in the first place following the death of someone he had himself willfully abandoned. 

It also raised questions of whether Anne actually suffered from a mental illness, or whether, as some local accounts suggest, she was being locked away by her father so that her pregnancy could be kept secret and that she suffered complications during childbirth that led to her eventual death.

The mansion retains its eerieness (Source: Loftus Hall)
The mansion retains its eerieness (Source: Loftus Hall)

The Loftus Family went bankrupt in the early 20th century, and following the death of their last family member, the mansion was taken over by the Benedictines, who occupied it until 1935.

In 1937, the Sisters of Providence converted it into a convent, with locals claiming that people were terrified to attend mass in its chapel given its gruesome history and the legends that stated the devil himself had roamed those halls.

It is currently owned by the Quigley family, who bought it in 2011 and have since opened it to the public through guided tours and interactive sessions with so-called paranormal experts.

However, punctuated by a dark and troubled history, the sadness and sense of foreboding that permeate the walls and the corridors of the mansion remain.

A trailer of The Lodgers:

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