Knighton Gorges Manor

Knighton Gorges Manor was one of the grandest manor houses on the Isle of Wight. Located in the hamlet of Knighton, near Newchurch, it is reported to be one of the most haunted locations on the Isle of Wight.

The Elizabethan-Tudor style house's history has been a saga of tragic events. It started with a ghastly note of Hugh de Morville, an escapee who resided there after murdering Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury, on 27 December 1170, along with his three other comrades in crime Reginald Fizure, Richard Brito and William Tray, then the death of Tristram Dillington in 1718 under mysterious circumstances and finally, 100 years later, followed by another tragic event of the owner of the Manor, George Maurice, destroying the manor in 1821 on his own volition (before his death), purely as a parental annoyance and spiteful action, to his daughter marrying a clergyman, against his wishes thus preventing her from owning the manor.[1][2][3]

These events have also generated reportedly paranormal events occurring at the manor location, witnessed in the form of the destroyed manor house itself appearing in an apparition form, ghost of Sir Tristram riding a ghostly horse each year on the anniversary of his death, and sighting of animal-like gargoyles on top of each gatepost at the entrance to the manor site.[4]

Knighton Gorges Manor
Entry gate posts of the demolished Knighton Gorges Manor
Knighton Gorges Manor is located in Isle of Wight
Knighton Gorges Manor
Location within Isle of Wight
General information
Architectural styleTudor architecture
Town or cityNear Newchurch, Knighton, Isle of Wight
Coordinates50°39′52″N 1°12′30″W / 50.66444°N 1.20833°WCoordinates: 50°39′52″N 1°12′30″W / 50.66444°N 1.20833°W
Construction started12th Century
Technical details
Structural systemBrick
"Knighton the seat of George M Bisset Esq." Engraving by Richard Godfrey, published in Worsley, Sir Richard, History of the Isle of Wight, London, 1781, opp. p. 206


Sir Hugh de Morville(d.1202) fled to the house after taking part as 1 of 4 knights in the murder on 29 December 1170 of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. He fled thence to Knaresborough Castle, Yorkshire, which was held by him. The manor was owned by the de Morvilles until 1256 when Ralf de Gorges acquired it by marriage, which is where the name Knighton Gorges comes from.[2] The early 13th-century holders were a family of De Morville, of whom John or Ivo de Morville died in 1256, leaving a daughter and heir Ellen married to Ralph de Gorges, who survived her husband and was in possession of the manor at the end of the century. [1]

She died in 1291–2, leaving a son Ralph, who in 1305 leased the manor to William de Caleshale and his wife for the term of their lives. The manor seems to have reverted to Ralph de Gorges before 1316. Ralph (afterwards Sir Ralph) and his wife Eleanor had one son Ralph, who died without issue, evidently before 1330–1, when Sir Ralph settled the manor in tail-male on two younger sons of his daughter Eleanor, who had married Theobald Russell of Yaverland.[1]

William, the elder of the two, died without issue and the manor was delivered to his brother Theobald Russell in 1343. He appears thereupon to have assumed the name de Gorges, and as Theobald de Gorges was sued in 1346–7 by Elizabeth widow of Ralph de Gorges the younger for the manor.[1] Judgement was given in Elizabeth's favour, but as she had no issue by Ralph the manor reverted to Theobald, who was in possession in 1362. He (then Sir Theobald) died in 1380 and the manor passed successively to his sons Sir Randolf, who died in 1382, Bartholomew, who died in 1395–6, and Thomas, who died in 1404.

Thomas left a son John, who only lived to be fifteen, and left his brother Theobald, a boy of ten, as heir in 1413. Sir Theobald Gorges was in possession of the manor in 1462, and probably died without issue, as the manor passed to the heirs of Thomas Russell, greatgrandson of Theobald Russell and Eleanor de Gorges by their eldest son Ralph Russell of Yaverland.[1] Thomas Russell's heir was his cousin John Haket, son of his aunt Alice. John Haket's daughter and heir Joan married John Gilbert, and the manor passed with Wolverton in Brading in the Gilbert family until 1563, when George Gilbert sold it to Anthony Dillington. Anthony's son Sir Robert died in 1604, leaving it to his nephew Robert. Sir Tristram Dillington, great-grandson of the lastnamed Robert, was the last of the direct line.[1]

Dying without issue in 1721, Tristram left his sisters Mary and Hannah as heirs. Hannah died intestate. Mary died unmarried, leaving the estate in common between her nephew Maurice Bocland and her niece Jane wife of John Eyre. General Maurice Bocland was in possession of the manor in 1750 and died in 1765, when it descended to his nephew George Maurice Bissett, who held the manor at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1820, the house was burnt and demolished by Bisset[1], and has not been rebuilt.

George Young was in possession of the remaining estate in 1878,[1] and the land as of 1912 was held by Mr. Edward Carter, who acquired it under the will of his father, also named Edward.[1]

The site of the house is now private, and a holiday cottage exists upon the estate in one of the remaining outbuildings[5].


The beast of Knighton - - 471537
A 2 ft high beast (looks like a panther) or gargoyle made in stone, on a gatepost some yards in front of the roof of Knighton

The house was a remarkably good example of Tudor work.[1] All that is now left of the house is the two stone gateposts as the house was burnt and demolished in 1820 by George Maurice Bisset to prevent his daughter inheriting it after she had married a clergyman without Bisset's consent.[1]

The manor facing north had large square windows (no painted glass windows), which are divided by stone mullions. The rooms were of large size and elegantly designed. The drawing room on the first floor was a capacious room with a long gallery in the north front. Lighting in the house was poor as it had a low roof. A coat of arms dated older than the manor house also decorated the windows.[3]

In its hay days the manor house was visited by Sir Henry of England who gave detailed description of the manor in his "History of the Isle of Wight". It was the favoured haunt of the fashionable society of artists, writers and administrators including Sir Richard Worsley, Captain of the Isle of Wight, the latter's association resulted in a scandal and disgrace.[3]


Knighton Gorges is a cornerstone of the local ghost-story industry, as the house has long been said to reappear at times in ghostly form.[6][7] Several books including The Ghosts of Knighton Gorges have been published especially covering the ghosts of the manor. Locals have also reported seeing animal-like gargoyles on top of each gatepost; these figures, if ever they existed, were removed many years ago and all that is left is plain stone.[8] Further along the road to the south near the old waterworks there are identical pillars from the former Knighton Gorges upon which the owner has placed modern gargoyles. As there have been many stories of the ghostly reappearance of these statues, alleged sightings may be due to the confusion created thereby.

The area is said to be haunted by various ghosts and is a popular stop for ghost tourists. One story often told is that of Sir Tristram Dillington, M.P. for Newport, who is thought to have committed suicide after taking to gambling heavily after the death of his wife. His valet is said to have concealed the nature of his death by placing his corpse upon his horse, Thunderbolt, and driving it into the lake, ensuring that the property was not forfeited (so that an inquest could be avoided).[8][9] The story is that the ghost of Sir Tristram rides a ghostly horse each year on the anniversary of his death, which occurred on 7 July 1721.[10]

Sightings of a man standing next to the fence next to the water works, and a lady dressed in a dark ankle length frock by the entrance pillars have recently been recorded by the shepherd and witnessed by passers by. Electrical equipment notably cameras have failed to operate in certain corners of the estate.


This article includes text incorporated from William Page's "A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5 (1912)", a publication now in the public domain

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Victoria County History". British History Online, University of London & History of Parliament Trust. 1912. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b Lloyd, David Wharton; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2006). The Isle of Wight. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10733-3. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Knighton Gorges Isle of Wight". Psychicrealmssuppliers. Archived from the original on 6 March 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Knighton Gorges". Haunated Locations. Archived from the original on 3 April 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Knighton Gorges Holiday Cottage". Island Cottage Holidays. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  6. ^ The Phantom House, The Strange Story or Knighton Gorges, By Jessie Middleton
  7. ^ "A brief manifestation of the hauntings and strange events that surround the villages and buildings on this enchanted isle". Wight Ghosts. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  8. ^ a b Ghost Club
  9. ^ William Henry Davenport Adams (1856). The history, topography, and antiquities of the isle of Wight. Smith, Elder, and Co. pp. 111–. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  10. ^ Leigh Rayment: constituencies
All Saints' Church, Newchurch

All Saints' Church, Newchurch is a parish church in the Church of England located in Newchurch, Isle of Wight, England. The church is medieval dating from the 13th century. In 1883, restoration of the church was carried out by A.R. Barker, at the instigation of the vicar Rev. Alfred Dicker.The simple layout of the church consists of a nave, a chancel, northern and southern aisles, and a tower. It was built on the site of an older structure which was donated by William FitzOsbern to the Lyre Abbey. Subsequently, the church came under the control of the Beaulieu Abbey. When this religious authority was dissolved, the control of the church was entrusted by Henry VIII to the Bishop of Bristol (now Gloucester and Bristol).The church was one of the seven parishes on the Island when it was built, but now is part of several others. The unique white timber clad tower contains a small peal of six bells with a tenor weighing just 7 cwt or 350 kg.

Knighton, Isle of Wight

Knighton is a hamlet near to Newchurch on the Isle of Wight. The name is often pronounced as Kay-nighton to avoid confusion with the larger, homophonic village of Niton, near Ventnor.

Knighton is situated under Knighton Down and has historically always been a part of the parish of nearby Newchurch. Knighton consists of little more than a collection of farm houses, most now turned to residential use. The only amenity in the settlement is a post-box. To the south is Knighton Sandpit Ltd which is an aggregate extraction company. The pit is also used for off-road driving events. This is however, a little way from the main residential area.

Knighton Gorges Manor in Knighton was one of the grandest manor houses on the Isle of Wight. But when the owner's daughter married against his will, he had it demolished, rather than allowing her to inherit it.

Hugh De Morville, one of the knights responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket, fled to Knighton Gorges.

There was a medieval settlement in Knighton, but nearly all of the population moved to the nearby village of Newchurch to escape the “Black Death”. Flint arrow heads can still be found in fields surrounding the area. It was estimated that at one time, the hamlet contained up to 60 houses.

Jimmy Tarbuck lived at Griggs Farm in the 1980s whilst performing in the nearby town of Sandown.

Knighton is the home of the “Wight Crystal” drinking water company, whose water comes from Knighton.

John Wavell and Anna Cowlam farmed Knighton farm after their marriage in 1735 in Newchurch. They were the great-great-grandparents of Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell (1883-1950), former Field Marshall and Viceroy of India.

List of country houses in the United Kingdom

This is intended to be as full a list as possible of country houses, castles, palaces, other stately homes, and manor houses in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands; any architecturally notable building which has served as a residence for a significant family or a notable figure in history. The list includes smaller castles, abbeys and priories that were converted into a private residence, and also buildings now within urban areas which retain some of their original character, whether now with or without extensive gardens.

Maurice Bocland (British Army officer)

Lieutenant-General Maurice Bocland (c. 1695 – 15 August 1765) was a British soldier and Member of Parliament.

Newchurch, Isle of Wight

Newchurch is a village and civil parish on the Isle of Wight. It is located between Sandown and Newport in the southeast of the island. Anthony Dillington, owner of the Knighton Gorges Manor in Newchurch wrote to his son Robert in 1574 that, "This is the very Garden of England, and we be privileged to work in it as Husbandmen......."

Newchurch obtained its name from the new church built in 1087 by the Norman monks of Lyra. The Newchurch Parish for many centuries stretched from the north to south coasts of the Island; by the early Nineteenth Century the growing resort towns of Ventnor and Ryde were included within its boundaries. The present day parish includes Newchurch Village, Apse Heath, Winford, Whiteley Bank, Alverstone, Alverstone Garden Village, Queen's Bower, Princelett and Mersley.

Public transport is provided by Wightbus bus route 23, operating between Newport and Shanklin. The Sustrans route 23 cycle route also runs through the village at the bottom of the Shute, allowing easy access to Cowes, Newport and Sandown. Between 1875 and 1956 Newchurch had the advantage of a railway station. There is a pub called "The Pointer Inn" and a sub-post office.

Sir Robert Dillington, 1st Baronet

Sir Robert Dillington, 1st Baronet (ca. 1575–1664) was an English aristocrat of the Dillington baronets, grandfather to Sir Robert Dillington, 2nd Baronet.

He succeeded his father in 1593/1594 and resided for many years at the traditional Dillington residence at Knighton Gorges Manor, Knighton, Newchurch, Isle of Wight before buying the Great Budbridge Manor in the Isle of Wight in 1633. He was created a baronet on 6 September 1628 and became a Member of Parliament for Isle of Wight in 1654–1655.He died in 1664.

Sir Robert Dillington, 2nd Baronet

Sir Robert Dillington, 2nd Baronet (ca. 1634 – 25 April 1687) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1659 and 1685.

Dillington was the son of Robert Dillington of Mottistone and grandson of Sir Robert Dillington, 1st Baronet. He matriculated at Queen's College, Oxford on 9 December 1653 and was of Gray's Inn in 1654.In 1659, Dillington was elected Member of Parliament for Newport in the Third Protectorate Parliament. He was elected MP for Newport in the Convention Parliament in 1660.

In 1664, when his grandfather died, he succeeded to the baronetcy and to the Knighton Gorges estate on the Isle of Wight. He was elected MP for Newport again in 1670 in the Cavalier Parliament and sat until 1685.Dillington died at the age of 52. He had married twice, firstly Jane, the daughter of John Freke of Cerne Abbey, Dorset with whom he had several children, of whom only 2 sons and 1 daughter survived and secondly Hannah, the daughter and coheiress of William Webb, a London grocer, with whom he had a further son and 2 daughters. Dillington's three sons, Robert, John, and Tristram, succeeded him in turn to the baronetcy.

Sir Tristram Dillington, 5th Baronet

Sir Tristram Dillington, 5th Baronet (c. 1678–1721) of Knighton was a British Army officer, landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1707 and 1721.

Wackland Manor

Wackland Manor (also Wakelond), is a manor house on the Isle of Wight, situated in the Newchurch parish. It was held in the 13th century under the Lisles of Wootton, but in 1311–12 was said to be held of Ralph de Gorges of Knighton Gorges Manor. At the end of the 13th century it was held by John de la Brigge, from whom it passed with Bridge Court (q.v.) to the Kingstons. It followed the descent of Kingston until 1424, when Robert Dingley and Lewis Meux conveyed it to John Taillour, who was returned in 1431 as holding Wackland. Its descent has not been traced from that time until the end of the 18th century. Some time before 1786 it must have been in the possession of Thomas Davis, as he left a charge of 20s. upon it for charities. In the early part of the 19th century Wackland was the residence of a hunting farmer, well known as 'Squire' Thatcher, who kept and hunted a pack of harriers. Mr. E. Carter was lord of Wackland in 1878, and as of 1912 it belonged to the trustees of the late Mr. Thomas F. Perrott.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.