Ellington Park - 2006
View of Edwardian fountain - c. 1901
(Note bandstand in background)
Same view, 2006.
This vista has changed dramatically. The fountain in the foreground of the original picture has long since vanished, with a bowling green now standing where it once stood. The railings on the left in the above picture now fence off the bowling green. You can just make out the base of the bandstand that still stands in the same position, but now shrouded in trees from this same angle.
The BandStand - c.1901
The BandStand - 2006
The Victorian BandStand is still very much intact, and has changed little in over a century
Old lake in the park - c. 1901
Site of old lake - 2006
The lake was completely filled in long ago, and a rockery built in it's place. In the summer, when the earth is dry, you can still see the original outline of the old lake, formed by dead grass
Old lake - c. 1901
Site of old lake - 2006
In the 1600's there used to be a mansion in Ellington Park which had a rather grisly history... read on (if you dare)!
Picture 1: 17th Century map of Ellington House
He seemed to spend his time riding around, with his long flowing hair dressed in his cavalier clothes, fighting people. He was forever going into pubs drinking, gambling or quarreling. He had a violent temper and was always in trouble with the law.
On December 11th, 1652, Adam was at home, and drunk. When his wife came home, he threatened to beat her, and she had to hide in the cupboard until he left the room. He smashed the cupboard door with a pickaxe. When a neighbour, Mr. Lamming, called round, Adam took him into the kitchen and got out the wine. Katherine used this opportunity to escape from the cupboard and went upstairs.
After a few drinks, Adam sent Lamming to fetch old Martin, who lived nearby, and Adam told the servant, Ewell, to join them in the kitchen. All four soon became very drunk, and so the maid took Adam’s daughter to a safe hiding place in the vast network of tunnels beneath the house.
Katherine then came into the kitchen for something and Adam began shouting at her. She spoke nicely to him but this angered him even more. He picked up a knife and stabbed her in the face. She turned and ran, but just as she put her hand on the door latch, he struck with the axe and almost severed her hand off. Martin quickly got some cloth to bind up the bleeding hand, but Adam punched him aside. Katherine prayed aloud for God to forgive Adam. Adam picked up a heavy meat cleaver and killed his wife.
Ewell dashed off to get the Law officers, but Adam stayed. His plan was to put the blame onto old Martin. Lamming was too drunk to move. Adam’s plan was to make it appear that Martin had had a mental fit. Adam killed six dogs, threw them over his wife’s body, and smeared Martin with blood. He would then make good his escape via a trapdoor in the kitchen to the tunnels, one of which led directly to the church, where he could seek refuge until the whole incident was forgotten. However, the Law Officers were not fooled. They pursued Adam down the tunnels and into the caves beneath the park. Eventually they caught him hiding behind a stack of barrels in a small cave, trying to set off gunpowder! They arrested Adam after overpowering him and taking away his pistols and swords.
He was taken by boat to Sandwich for trial.
Now that he was caught, people came forward to tell of the other evil deeds he had done. If anyone had ever seen him doing anything wrong, he had threatened to kill them if they ever went to the Law Officers. One witness told of an argument between Adam and John Simmons in a pub, which ended in Simmons being pinned to the wall with Adam’s rapier. Another witness had seen Adam beaten in a fist-fight with Robert Lister. Adam went to a local muscle-man, Corslet, and paid him to beat up Lister. Some Law Officers said that they had been to investigate complaints against Adam, and he had fired off his pistols at them.
The constables read out a long list of complaints against him. In 1648, Adam and Robert Langley had quarreled, and as Langley rode away, Adam went after him and shot him in the back, killing him. At the end of the trial, the Jury took only a short time to find Adam Sprackling guilty of murder, and the judge sentenced him to death.
In his cell, Adam refused to see a priest and, putting on his long flowing cloak, he went to the scaffold. After the hanging, his body was put in a coffin and rowed back to Thanet. The only transport available at Cliffsend was a sea-weed wagon, which carried his body to St. Lawrence Church where he was buried.
Ellington Park was bought by Ramsgate Council in 1892 and the house demolished. The foundations however still exist, and there are also a couple of stones with dates still in place (the stones saying 1647 and 1649, with a cross-key symbol).
Picture 3: The foundations of Ellington House still remain (2007)
The series of tunnels apparently still exist, linking the house with Ellington stables, the church and many other places, including Pegwell Bay! The tunnels adjoin the famous St. Lawrence caves, which also surface somewhere in the grounds of Ellington park, although their exact location is unknown, but access is allegedly gained through a manhole somewhere in the undergrowth!
The tunnels were in fact excavated by Adam Sprackling’s men linking to the church, thus proving Sprackling’s smuggling connections.
Another somber conclusion to this tale was that during the fight Adam had with his wife, the maid took Adam’s daughter to a hiding place within the tunnels. The daughter, becoming afraid of the screaming from above, ran towards the church. Legend has it that she took a wrong turning, and become hopelessly lost in the cave network.
Her body was never found, and local legend also has it that her ghost still haunts the tunnels beneath the park! The sound of her wailing and also of ghostly footsteps could be heard for many years echoing through the park on a clear night. However, after some years, people realised that the ghostly footsteps were in fact the sound of horses’ hooves from nearby Ellington stables, amplified and echoing through the smugglers caves beneath the park! …but who knows? Her body is probably still down there… And so ends the grisly account of Ellington mansion...
Picture 4: The remains of Ellington House can still be seen clearly in the park in the picture on the right
Until recently there were two stones still visible in the remaining foundations, with the year and cross-keys symbol, as shown on the below. Sadly in recent months it looks like these have now been removed.