Old Ramsgate (then and now)

Identical scenes from the town of Ramsgate (Isle of Thanet) from past centuries and today

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Ellington Park

Ellington Park - c. 1901

Ellington Park - 2006
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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.

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The BandStand - c.1901

The BandStand - 2006

The Victorian BandStand is still very much intact, and has changed little in over a century

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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

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Old lake - c. 1901

Site of old lake - 2006

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In the 1600's there used to be a mansion in Ellington Park which had a rather grisly history... read on (if you dare)!

The house that once stood in what is now Ellington park was owned by Adam Sprackling. In 1632, he married Katherine Leukner. She soon found out that he was not a nice person. He was rich and spoiled.

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.


Picture 2: Ellington House in the early 19th Century

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 Cou
ncil 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.





Picture 5: Sketch of one of the foundation stones showing the cross-keys symbol and year, still visible in 2006


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25 Comments:

Blogger Little Weed said...

I have enjoyed your photos. Please don't stop posting

1:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see your photos of Ellington Park.It brought back happy memories. A beautiful place in spring when the trees are in blossom.

10:28 pm  
Anonymous Tim said...

Hi, Great site, really interesting pictures. Any pictures of Merry England or the pier circa late 60's / early 70's?

9:24 am  
Blogger Vince R said...

Thanks tim. I will keep my eye open for any pictures of Merry England in the 60's/70's.
Most of the pictures and postcards I use are all pre-1920's, but will look out for some nonetheless.

9:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we live in lewknor lodge, and Katherine's name was leukner!??

can anyone comment

8:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in Ramsgate in the 50,60,70's and my Aunt used to live in 61 Ellington Road opposite the park, many fond memories. Thanks

12:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this interesting piece of history. I have just married Adam Sprackling and my name is Catherine and we think this is a wonderful piece of history even though slightly spooky that the murderous Adam Sprakeling 's wife was also named Catherine! I think we might come over to Ramsgate soon and see if my Adam is infact related to the original Adam!!

9:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really enjoyed your photos ,well interesting ,dont stop posting

3:51 pm  
Anonymous Oprah said...

Interesting to know.

5:10 am  
Blogger Marjie said...

What a wonderful insight on the history of ellington park my father lives in Hanover Cottage which is next to the park and has heard of the tunnels that go under his cottage and come out at where the old pub The Cannon used to be sadly the pub has been pulled down a long time ago , but was next to the old ellington girls school which is also going to be developed ...Marjorie Giles

3:12 pm  
Blogger Marjie said...

How intersting to find out about Ellington House, Through the years I have heard so many tales about it most of them untrue, its nice to here the real story at last ... I used to live in Hanover Cottage at the side of the park and we had a tunnel which used to lead to the old pub called The Cannon which has been pulled down a long time ago but stood next to Ellington girls school which is also up for development now. My mother said she could here noises coming from the front room but they were the echoes through the tunnel underneath the cottagecoming from the road...

3:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

realy good site realy good story would love to find out how to get into the tunnels realy enjoy exploring tunnels especialy the wind tunnels when u could get in them.

6:25 pm  
Blogger Vince R said...

Hi All - Just wanted to say thankyou for all your positive comments and questions. Sorry I haven't been able to reply to individual questions as yet, but will try to do so as soon as I get some time!
Stay tuned, as there are more updates to the site pending! ;-)

4:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

absolutely enthrawling what happened to the edwardian fountain in the bowling green as it is now?
It would be interesting to follow the story to the preasant day. I have been going there since a small child, i remember the two old buildings. jud

5:01 pm  
Blogger ramsgate48 said...

My grandparents lived on Queensgate rd.I did not know of the parks history,but enjoyed playing in the park and watching the fireworks on Guy Fawkes.I also watched my grandfather play bowls on the greens. Does any one else remember the fireworks?Do people still bowl? I live in the U.S.A.and have many memories of Ramsgate.I went to St.Augustines abbey School,but dont seem to be able to find it on the map any more.Also memories of the old humbug shop on harbor street.Anyone remember buying savaloie sausages?Have a lot of memories about Ramsgate from the 50's and some of the 60's.

10:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so many memories. skipping school, playing football, playing on the rocks, hanging out at the bandstand my whole childhood so much time in that park.
my Dad who passed away a few years ago is buried there under a tree he walked his dogs there everyday

4:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key stones were stolen not removed.

3:40 pm  
Anonymous Sheree Bell said...

At Friends of Ellington Park we have been researching the Old Ellington House and its history. It is unlikely that the current Terrace Flint Wall is remains of the house although undoubtedly it was built from them. It is more likely that Ellington House stood on the flat land between the Terrace and the Bandstand. The two stone plaques in the reconstructed wall were vandalised and removed to a place of safety. We had sight of them last week but they are in such a poor state that it is unlikely they can be saved and will have to be reconstructed. We have begun a new partnership with Thanet College, so that their Construction Diploma students will restore the wall as part of developing their 'Heritage Building Skills'. That will hopefully create ownership and pride in the young people involved and reduce any vandalism in the future.

11:01 am  
Anonymous George Taylor said...

Wow. I lived just around the corner from Ellington Park in 9 Duncan Road. We used to play in the park a lot. I was 7 years old when I left for Australia in 1956. Pictures bring back pleasant memories.

8:04 am  
Anonymous George William Taylor said...

Yes, I do remember the fireworks in the park in the 1950's as we my siblings and I used to scavenge around the next morning to try to find fireworks that didn't work on the night. I also remember the huge conkas (chestnuts) that I got from a huge tree there. As quoted in an earlier post I came from 9 Duncan road (just around the corner from the park). I left for Australia in 1956. At 7 years old.

8:11 am  
Anonymous Barry Tearle said...

I have had a nostalgic trip looking at the old and new photographs I spent many happy days playing with my friends in the park in the late 1960,s

3:32 pm  
Anonymous Barry Tearle said...

I have had a nostalgic trip looking at the old and new photographs I spent many happy days playing with my friends in the park in the late 1960,s

3:33 pm  
Blogger steph said...

Hi,I use to live in meeting street
in the sixties, And use to live in one of the houses that use to be in front of the church, The house was called fern cottage,It would be great if anyone had any information on that area or possibly any photos.

9:26 pm  
Blogger Patricia said...

I was born in Ramsgate but we moved to Deal and then to London when I was nine. My grandma lived in Bush Avenue in Ramsgate and she often used to mention a Mrs Sprackling to do with the Townswomen's Guild I think. The name stuck in my mind as it is so unusual. I would have thought she was a descendant of the Sprackling you mention. This would have been late forties to fifties that I heard her name mentioned.

3:41 pm  
Blogger Tammy Murphy said...

I am a descendant of Adam Sprackling. Happy to say no more domestic violence. His family left the area and never returned. My branch, son Robert's, came to America and now live in Texas. Hope to come to England and see the remains of Ellington House!

9:03 pm  

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