Ghostly encounters of Buckland's past

Looking down the Georgian Staircase

Sir Francis Drake lived in glory as a national hero whilst he was alive, now years later his spirit still lives on. Today, both he and some accompanying 'hell hounds' are rumoured to haunt Drake's former home and surrounding area.

The Legend of Drake’s Drum

Currently located in Treasures, Drake’s legendary drum is known to tell a tale or two after accompanying Drake on his voyages around the world. The myth goes that whilst Drake was on his death bed in Panama during 1596, the seafaring hero ordered his drum to be sent back home to Buckland Abbey and vowed if the drum was to beat if England was in danger, he would return to save his country. 

" "Take my drum to England, hang et by the shore, Strike et when your powder's runnin' low; If the Dons sight Devon, I'll quit the port o'Heaven, An' drum them up the Channel as we drummed them long ago.""
- Extract from 'Drake's Drum' by Sir Henry Newbolt, 1862-

On a number of occasions it’s beat has mysteriously been heard – the first in 1914 before the start of the First World War, followed by the sound of a drumbeat heard on board the Royal Oak when the German Navy surrendered even though no drum or drummer could be found on board ship.

Another myth goes that if Drake’s Drum was to ever be removed from its home then the city that surrounds it will fall. During 1938 parts of Buckland Abbey was devastated by a fire, which led to the drum’s removal for safe keeping. At the same time, nearby Plymouth was attacked by air raids causing destruction across the city.

Drake's Drum
Drake's Drum
Drake's Drum

Drake’s spirit roams

Drake’s ghost is often noted to be roaming across Dartmoor within a black coach drawn by headless horses preceded by twelve goblins and pursued by a pack of baying hounds. Rumour has it that any dog that hears their ‘unearthly baying’ will die almost instantly.

Return of the monks

Dating back to the pre-Reformation era, one myth tells the tale of a young monk and his relationship with a local maid. The story goes that the monk’s secret romance was discovered with astonishment by the Abbott, causing the monk to take his own life by drowning in the carp pond. Although there has been no confirmed sightings, the monk is said to walk some of the paths around the estate during the hours of darkness – walk if you dare.

Information sourced from the book ‘Ghosts: Spooky Stories and Eerie Encounters from the National Trust’ written by Sian Evans, 2006.