The Haunting of the Towers – Fact or Fiction?

by Lynda White

It comes as no great surprise that on more than one occasion ‘ghostly happenings’ have been reported by residents of Towers Way, the road that took its name from the previous ‘Towers’ house built by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Albert Duke George. Tales of the supernatural seem inevitable with the history of any, if not all, derelict, rambling old houses. Stories of sightings, moving objects and uncomfortably chilly rooms have allegedly led to residents moving house. Whether there is any substance to these so called sightings remains to be seen but I’m sure the stories began with mischievous youngsters venturing over the iron fence into the unknown, jumping with fear every time a bird fluttered in the trees. The sceptics amongst us will deny any possibility of ghosts or ghouls but nevertheless stories have been reported since the house stood empty some time after World War II and beyond its demolition in the 70s when the present Towers Way development began.

The Towers, was thought to have been initially constructed in 1934 for use as a residence for the Church Minister of Central Hall (the evangelical chapel) built two years previously on the outskirts of the Towers Estate. Its seems that Mr George lived there for the four years before his death on 11th June 1938 at the age of ninety-four. The house was built in a similar ‘castle like’ design as the chapel with various wings and additions to the main house. He also erected the two houses alongside the chapel in Wareham Road along with properties in Central Avenue, South and Albert Roads.

The Towers estate was a sizable plot covering the land from Central Avenue on the southern perimeter where mature trees still mark the boundary, to the northern fence near St Nicolas Church. It encompassed the area where now stands the Co-op, the Village Hall, car park and Library and to the West, reached down the hill with it’s landscaped gardens, ponds and planted woodland to Orchard Close. The old house stood proud, apparently three stories, east of the Towers Way Road as it sweeps southward on the first bend, on what is now a small green. Sadly, the sloping woodland park area is now overgrown with rhododendrons, thus stifling the few ancient trees left standing and the ponds have long since dried up. There were large greenhouses at the rear of the house, evidence perhaps that Charles George was a keen gardener.

The house changed ownership several times passing from the Becket family to a Mr Ravensdale who then sold the land for development in the 60s and the first planning consent was granted in July 1969 for shops, housing and recreational facilities. In 1971 permission was given for the library to be included in the plans and in 1977 ‘Phase 1’ of the new Towers Way development was given the go-ahead. So ended an era, Corfe Mullen had, until this time, been very much a village. With the development of Phelipps Road housing estate and the demolition of the Towers, the village was expanding to become one with neighbouring Broadstone, pulling Corfe Mullen irretrievably into the conurbation.

History seemed to disappear with the old house as few memories remain of Lt Col George or his wife Mary who passed away eight years before him on 3rd February 1930. He was the George who founded George and Harding Builders and he reputedly rode his bicycle regularly from Corfe Mullen to his workplace in Bournemouth. Mr George built two other Methodist Chapels in the village, one at East End and the other on the corner of Albert Road and Wareham Road. We should remember that Corfe Mullen village originally centred on the area of the mill (as the name suggests). St Hubert’s served this once busy community but as Wareham Road was developed, Mr George would have seen the need for more accessible worship for the ever-expanding village.

Local legend states that Mary George was interred with her jewellery in the family mausoleum above ground on the western slopes of the estate. Thieves were reported to have broken in some years later to steal the jewellery. The mausoleum was moved and is still above ground, according to Charles George’s wishes (he firmly believed in resurrection of believers) but under the vestry floor in the Baptist Chapel.
It is sad that little is known of this chapter in the history of Corfe Mullen. A large house that dominated the hill overlooking the valley with little evidence of its existence other than an almost hidden flight of steps leading up to what was the rear garden and its potting sheds and greenhouses. There are few photos of the house or of Lt Col George and his wife.

It is hoped that this will spark a few memories of the Towers and its owners so we can piece together any stories (ghostly or otherwise) to form part of the long and interesting history of our village. Please send in your stories.

The Tower

Hi, just a short note to say that my Grandparents used to live in the towers mid 60s
and it was haunted,that was the reason they moved out,also i do have some pictures of the old house.

Photos and film footage of The Towers

It is good to see that there are still photos of the old house and presumably a few stories too. I was pleased to read also, that a member of this site has 8mm film footage of the Towers. We are planning to write a follow up article about the house, particularly after our Royal Wedding celebrations in Towers Way where residents were keen to learn exactly where the house once stood. It is possible that had the building survived to present day, it may have been considered historical enough to become a listed building. Collecting stories and photographs on this site is the best way for the memory of the house to continue. Please let us know if you would be prepared to share your photographs with CMO. Many thanks.
Lynda White

The Towers Corfe Mullen

Hi my Grandmother and grandfather used to live there in the mid 60s and we used to stay there as children,we have quite a few pics of the place,and yes it was haunted,that was the reason my grand parents moved out.

The Towers pictures please.

How do we get to see your pictures of The Towers please? I live only a few yards from where it was situated. Friends showed the house to me before it was demolished and I did not know at the time that I would eventually live so close by. It justified its name by its view from the back. I now wish that I had stepped inside to have a look around when I had the chance; now I know that the walls were painted with scenes of riverside scenery, kingfisher bird etc.
John Christian from 5 Towers Way

The Towers and pictures of the past

Thanks Lynda for the history and reminders of the past.

When I moved into the village in 1979, I lived with a family near the Baptist church. I remember them talking about Col George, the mausoleum and the relocation of the remains to the church. The children mentioned the Towers and building the Co-op but I didn't take any interest or (more usefully) any pictures. What a shame!

At the time I must have gone between 'home' and work at Plessey in Poole each day while making no effort at all to take in my surroundings; I now find such dull-witted lack of observation quite puzzling.

More recently, I've been taking pictures of local houses before they get demolished because you never know when they'll be thought interesting at some time in the future. Nothing as interesting as a picture of the Towers would be now though; does anyone have any that could be posted here?

The Towers

I've been fascinated by The Tower's since we moved into Central Avenue. My husband used to live in the house next doors to ours as a child (in the 60's) and used to play in The Tower's overgrown garden. He tells me there were pigstys & grottos in (and a lot of wildlife including snakes & lizards)- and the house hall/stairs walls were totally covered with paintings. There is a picture of the Towers in the Parish Council office. If you go into the office and ask to have a look at the village exhibition photos, you should find it.

The Towers

I also used to play in The Towers when I was a child. We used to stop off on our way home from Lockyers school. I remember being really frightened, especially when we were near the crypt. Sometimes we used to walk home along the back roads past the baptist church, and the fence that bordered The Towers was on a narrow path that was alway dark and covered in leaves due to all the trees in The Towers - it was terrifying walking along there if it was beginning to get dark. Such happy memories!
I moved away in my early 20s and was shocked when I came back to find the old house had been pulled down and the new developement that had replaced it. I find it so sad to see what has become of Corfe Mullen now, especially as a lot of the old buidings are now being demolished for developement (mainly flats which are totally inappropriate in this area).
Thanks for bringing back those memories - maybe I played with your husband!
Michelle Adams

The Towers

I lived in the village as a child from about 1955 untill 1970 and witnessed the start of the massive changes that have happened. The Towers were not for the faint hearted and one experience was with a group of friends who one sunny day in one of those endless summers ventured into the derelict house.
I remember lots of corridors, faded grey white walls and empty rooms. When a far-off door slammed shut very loudly we ran for our lives and nevered ventured back inside.
There were too many other areas to play within the village to bother much with the Towers - at least that was my excuse!
My mum's best friend lived next door to the far corner of the grounds and once when visiting I was persuaded to venture in by their neighbour's son, Philip King, who was a couple of years my senior. As it was approaching dusk we had made it through the bamboo growth to the mausoleum and peering in through the glassless windows could make out dim shapes inside. Unbeknown to me my 'Uncle' Eric (Stephenson) had followed us in to give us a scare. He gave a deep throaty woohaha laugh and in the deathly silence of the overgrown woods it sounded like my worst nightmare had come true. To say I ran is an understatement. Years later he would recall the incident and with tears rolling down his face describe how my legs were blurred with the speed. As I tore my blazer on the perimeter barbed wire fence my mum was not quite so amused.
Regarding the legendary coffin raid the coffins had already been relocated to the Baptist Churchyard to a small above-ground building. Thieves broke off the lock and stole the coffins which I discovered when going to Sunday School the following weekend. I remember it being a great gossip for the village (I must have been about 9 or 10). I remember Nigel Baverstock reporting back to us lads that the coffins had been discovered dumped in a lane at East End (Ashington Lane?). The lock was replaced with a much stronger version and all the stories about jewelry fortunes came to an end. Happy days!
Tim Court

hi, my name is lily and my

hi, my name is lily and my friend is phoebe. for a fact we live down towers way.. can you tell us anything else that has happened.
thankyou
phoebe n lily x

Memories of the Towers

Thanks for your comments Michelle, its good to know that the Towers holds happy (or even scary) memories for you. It is so easy to forget what the landscape was like before many of these modern housing developments were built. I remember horse riding as a child, across the common that is now Corfe Hills School (luckily a section of it still remains). The village seemed so much more 'rural' in those days.
You may have noticed on your return to Corfe Mullen, that the path from the Baptist Church, along the back of the woodland still exists, although houses have taken the place of trees. A small part of the woodland survives behind the houses in Towers Way. Many of the original trees still stand, although overgrown rhododendrons are now a serious threat to any young seedlings. I am sure that the wooded area with its ponds must have been very lovely in its day. We are currently trying to preserve what is left of the original woodland and hope to eventually return the area to a healthy, living habitat for wildlife. Sadly, it is too late for the house so it is vital that any memories are logged for future researchers and historians.
Lynda

The Towers area, then and now.

I also saw the Towers before it was demolished, because friends took me around the outside. Memory of standing near the front door is quite strong and I now wish that I had stepped inside to take a look. Little did I realise at the time that one day I would have moved from the Midlands and live in a house extremely close to that spot near The Towers front door.

Fairly recently some of us were wondering about the layout of the land compared with the present. Maps are available through the Internet and it is possible to find common points of reference to determine the changes when superimposed on the old Ordnance Survey features. The original house faced in the opposite direction to those currently on the south side of Towers Way before the bend. It was situated where there is currently open space, and the castle-like back of it encroached on the path of the present road. A hint of the style can be seen on the front of the Central Hall Church nearby, opposite Phellips road; Aldaman (Colonel) Charles George built both of them.

Just imagine entering Towers Way as it is now. Sweeping first left and then right into the Co-op Car Park represents roughly the approach to the front of the original house, with a roof shaped like three inverted V's. From the front it looked like a magnificent house with a conservatory over the main door. The conservatory porch roof was shaped like the section of house roof above it.

Relevant photographs in the Village Hall include one of Aldaman George in his formal dress.

The Towers

I grew up in Central Avenue in the 60s and 70s, in one of the houses built by Colonel George, and spent a lot of time playing in the Towers woods and - more occasionally - in the house itself.I remember a group of us from Lockyers pushing through the forbiddingly tall, ivy-clad iron gates from the old Wareham Road and making our way through the wilsly overgrown grounds, past ruined outhouses to the ruined house. The strangest thing I remember is that the whole building and all the outhouses were covered in mother of pearl oyster shells. We all knew the ghost stories, and we didn't last long creeping through the ruins - especially as it was twilight. in a few minutes we were all running like mad hares for the gate after one too many creaky noises spun us into a panic. The woods behind were great, and properly wild. You could play hide and seek for hours. All that area round Pardy's Hill was great for kids, and yes, I can remember the estates moving in, in the mid 70s, and Harry J Palmer moving up... My dad did film some 8mm silent movie footage there, sometime around 1970. I still have it, though it is a bit underexposed and hard to see what exactly is what. But very atmospheric and weird and Gothic. You felt like you're approaching Macbeth's castle, or Dracula's, with Peter Cushing on hand to take your hat and coat.... forever!

Tim Cumming

The Towers film

Is it possible to see your film please Tim? I saw The Towers on only one occasion before it was demolished.
John Christian at 5 Towers Way.

Towers archive film

Hello John, yes I will put up the clip on vimeo and post a link here - I need to project and refilm it with a broadcast-quality camera and that should help the underexposure of the oriignal 8mm film....
Tim

Towers Archive film and the changed structure of layout.

Many thanks Tim,
I look forward to seeing the film, and hopefully the historic still pctures mentioned by others. A print of superimposed maps of the Towers Way area is available showing the original Towers layout in black and white with the current development printed in colour. I hope that the print appears on this web site soon.

Towers pictures now here!

John you lent me some prints of newspaper and magazine articles along with a plan of the Towers site and picture of Col George.

I took pictures which I put in a gallery here. Due to the poor original quality and a number of other issues they haven't come out too well but I hope they give an impression and stoke people's interest in The towers and Colonel George.

It would ne bice if someone could transcribe the text to make it easier to read.

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