The present hotel was built in the Gothic revivalist style, started by Colonel Thomas Browne for his family and finished in 1876 by the Wright family. In those days it was the fashion in Montgomeryshire and Salop (Shropshire) – possibly to rival that of Leighton Hall in Montgomeryshire. John Naylor of Leighton Hall was another bigwig and friend of the Parish of Churchstoke. Naylor was also arch rival and in deep contest with the Earl of Powis and Powis Castle, both estates staring at each other across the valley like giants ready to do battle out of a jealous rage over a Lady. Although the Wright family owned Mellington for over 30 years I found their story and Particularly Philip’s life story, very fascinating. Welshpool town in Victorian times was quintessential for its era, being a vibrant, busy and important place, with a striving social scene for the country gentry. Mellington was very much a part of the history.
Like all old houses, Mellington Hall has its share of ghost stories. There have been various accounts from the generations of families that occupied Mellington, of sightings of ghostly military-style carriages, travelling through what is now the billiard room, late at night. It was thought a road once ran through there. Many people who have visited Mellington have reported seeing children playing in the woods; children’s faces looking out from the tower block and the crying of a baby has been heard within the Hall itself. Some living descendents of Philip Wright’s family believe that Philip’s presence is very much to be felt throughout certain parts of the Hall and in particular, the tower.
My personal feeling is that if there is any spirit haunting Mellington it could be none other than Sydney Rankin Heap who occupied Mellington for the longest and died at the Hall and buried in the local parish. He was renowned for having a quick temper and let the Hall go into decline as he got older. Because of this decline, he could not employ any local servants so he had three Spanish boys working in service for him at that time. It is also rumoured that during the time of the Heap occupation of the estate, Ormerod Heap, the youngest son of Sydney Rankin Heap, was quite a ladies man. He was often spotted with the local girls at the Dog and Duck pub and made quite of a reputation for himself. He too, like brother Sydney, owned a yellow Aston Martin car (which they nicknamed the yellow mustard pot) and was said to have had more than one affair with the maids of the House. He was disapproved of, but father Sydney, turned a blind eye until further embarrassment came as Ormerod had an illicit affair with the scullery maid by the name of Elsie. She fell pregnant and an illegitimate child was born but she died in childbirth. No one knows who this child was as it was given to an orphanage to save the family from scandal.
Sydney Rankin Heap was often to be heard arguing with the blacksmiths about the new farm machinery that he had imported from the United States. There was the time when he demonstrated his new muck spreader to a crowd of local farmers. Unfortunately some were standing too close and got more than a demonstration!
Sydney also had a habit of burning rice puddings and was heard to shout at the housekeeper “That’s the third one I’ve burnt today!”
It was during this time that an Indian motorbike was discovered in the old garage. Maria (his daughter) took it for a white knuckle ride to Aberyswyth but it ended up crashing into a wall and burning up. No one was hurt but everyone was relieved it was gone.
Written by Researcher Historian Gywin Browne
Most Haunted Executive
Living Channel TV