The Ghosts of Cobham Hall

It was June 1821 when Solomon Wiseman threw his wife off the balcony after a heated argument at the now infamous Wisemans Ferry Hotel, north of Sydney, Australia.

Australia. Two centuries later, many locals believe Jane Wiseman didn’t leave the day her head cracked on the bottom step. Some say she is still there now.

History states that Solomon Wiseman was originally transported to Australia in 1806 for stealing wood worth 24 pounds. But he changed his ways in the following years, and was given a 200 acre land grant on the Hawkesbury River by Governor Macquarie.Solomon soon began construction of the areas first hotel, and created the ferry service in 1827 that gave the settlement its name. In the years after he established his ferry service he entertained many influential guests at his mansion Cobham Hall, and it wasn’t long before he became a member of the landed gentry, and was appointed local magistrate. Solomon had finally achieved gentleman’s status – or so it would seem.

In June, 1821 – Solomon Wiseman was anything but a gentleman. Having grown tired of his sickly wife, he threw her from the balcony in a fit of rage, glad to be rid of her forever – but it seems his wife had other ideas.

Many individuals who have worked at the hotel have reported seeing Jane’s ghostly figure late at night, and not surprisingly, they haven’t stuck around for their next shift. One barman reported seeing Jane dressed in white. The barman was never seen again – but Jane was.

Several owners of the hotel have also had eerie experiences, including a Mrs. Farrell who began screaming uncontrollably when Jane decided to pay a visit late one night. When staff and guests rushed to Mrs. Farrell’s aid, Jane had disappeared.

Legend has it that when Jane fell to her death, her blood stained the circular steps at the northern entrance to old Cobham Hall, and all attempts to remove the stains failed for decades. But Jane isn’t the only restless soul to inhabit the hotel.

It was custom in Solomon Wiseman’s day to pardon a convict after four years good behavior. One such convict, after serving four years hard labor on the Wiseman estate, was looking forward to his freedom and a reunion with his mother who had recently arrived in the colony. But Wiseman had no intention of releasing a source of free labor, and when the young man complained, he was staked to a large ant-nest, and then chained and put to work on a grueling road gang.

The boy eventually escaped with two companions, and set out across the Hawkesbury River. Weighed down by his leg-irons, however, the fugitive didn’t get far, and drowned not far from shore. Each year on the anniversary of what should have been his freedom, the spirit of the young man is known to rattle his chains up and down the stairs of Cobham Hall. Many believe he will never rest until he receives his pardon.

Cobham Hall later became the Wiseman’s Ferry Hotel – and still operates today, although not all the patrons are paying customers.

© Mark Halliday 2007

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