Hope House was a large Victorian house which used to overlook Ware Lock. For many years, Roman remains have been found in the area and not long after Hope House was demolished, some lead coffins were discovered in the grounds.
In August 1986, a former occupant who had grown up and lived there for 19 years wrote to the Hertfordshire Mercury about a ghost, as follows:
“…We had a resident spirit living with us. My mother was the first person to be aware of this when my sisters were young. As we grew up, we all accepted that he was with us from time to time. We had many cats and a dog and the animals would sense his presence in a corner of the long hallway. Twice, one of the cats was staring in to this corner, with fur standing on end. The last time, it fled up the staircase to the very top floor, then down again, to end up breaking its neck against the cellar door.
A few years later this happened to another cat. He only came down one floor, then into the bedroom that we called the dormitory (where we all slept when young). Puss jumped out of the open window and fell to the ground with a broken neck. Our dog, Teddy, would growl and whine and look very disturbed.
Mother at times would hear footsteps along the second-floor landing at night, coming from the end of the house where the giant chestnut tree stood. My bedroom was at that end and I always knew when he was around; my neck would be icy cold.
There was no gas light on the top floor and my sisters and I had candles in our rooms. We graduated to the top floor in our early teenage years and I would blow my candle out and lay down with the sheet over my head. I didn’t mind ‘Ghostie’ being there, as long as I couldn’t see him. I never looked in the mirror on the mantelpiece in case I saw him looking over my shoulder.
When I married and left home, I wondered if he would come along too but he stayed at Hope House. Mother always believed it was the spirit of a man who was hung on a spot to the back of the house. I hope our friendly spirit will visit those that were responsible for the destruction of a house of such distinction and scare the living daylights out of them.
Hope House stood proudly, overlooking the River Lea and the lock, the splendid new weir and the trees and flower gardens of Allen and Hanbury’s Social Centre. Together, they were the ‘beauty spot’ of Ware.”
The house appears on a map of 1845 when it was owned and occupied by Edward Chuck. In 1881, Robert Smith, 39, a corn and seed merchant lived there with his wife, Eliza, 6 children and a servant. By 1911, William Skipp, a contactor lived there withhis large family (they had 11 rooms) and by the 1920s it was in the hands of the Page family. John Page was listed as the occupant in 1945.
Hope House was demolished in the early 1980s by Glaxo to make way for a new manufacturing block. Does ‘Ghostie’ still haunt the new buildings?