Local History ~ Folklore

Old Pamp and the Slippers of Papillon Hall.

Papillon Hall (now virtually demolished) was built in 1622 by the Papillon family. It stood about 1 mile from the village and was octagonal in shape, with only one entrance as each room connected. The large stone house was surrounded by a moat. At each corner of the roof was a flat lead paved area.

One owner, David Papillon (1691-1762) was known by local people as Pamp, Old Pamp or Lord Pamp and was greatly feared. Many people believed he was in league with the Devil. They believed he could 'set' or 'fix' people who offended him. One story tells how he did just this to a group of ploughmen who became unable to move until 'released' at the end of the day. If anybody in Lubenham suffered a misfortune they blamed Old Pamp, and it is told that villagers made a cross in their dough when baking or in the mash when brewing beer to avert his evil eye.

It is told that before his marriage he kept a Spanish mistress. She was kept 'prisoner' in the east attic and took her exercise on the flat leads of the roof. She died in 1715. There is no record of her death or of her place of burial, but the skeleton of a woman was found within the walls of the east attic during alterations to the hall in 1903. Folklore tells that she was murdered by Papillon who accused her of being a witch. At the moment of death, it is told, she uttered a curse that ill fortune would befall any owner who removed her slippers from the house.

The Slippers of Papillon Hall
photo kindly loaned by David Allen

Because of this, whenever the hall was sold the slippers were handed with the title deeds to the new owners, except in 1866, when they were taken away to Leicester. The new family were constantly awakened at night by unexplained loud noises and so the slippers were brought back and the noises ceased.

The house was sold again six years later and the new owner, Thomas Holford, lent the slippers (silver brocade with three inch heels and pointed toes) to an exhibition in Paris. Life in the house became so unbearable that the family were forced to move out until the slippers were returned.

The next owner, Mr. C Walker, who bought the hall in 1884, was so determined to avoid trouble that he had a special case made for them with a padlocked metal grille keeping the slippers securely mounted above the fireplace. However, despite warnings, Captain Frank Belville who bought the hall in 1903 had the slippers removed to his solicitors during alterations (during which the skeleton was found) and accidents immediately befell the workers with one being killed by a falling brick. The men refused to work. Shortly after, Belville himself sustained a broken skull in a fall from his pony and trap and the slippers were hurriedly brought back. Despite this experience in 1909 he lent the slippers to an exhibition at Leicester Museum. Whilst they were away he had a bad fall from his horse whilst hunting and the hall was set on fire during a tremendous thunder storm. Three horses were also killed and some say that two men also died. Once more the shoes were brought back and this time Belville locked them securely in the cabinet and threw the key into the pond.

The shoes were safe until the second world war, when the hall was used as a billet for the American 82nd Airborne Division. The story goes that on two separate occasions men who had taken slippers away were killed in action, though the missing slipper was returned each time. When the hall was deserted in 1945 only one slipper remained, but in 1951 when the hall was demolished the missing slipper was found under the floorboards.

This shows 3 of the many US service men of the 82nd Airborne Div who were stationed at the hall during WW2. The picture shows them standing outside the hall next to the ornamental pond. This picture was taken just prior to there departure to operation Market Garden. The one in the middle is a Captain Sartain who survived the war and went on to become a judge in Baton Rouge Louisiana.
photo kindly loaned by David Allen

The slippers were donated by Mrs. Barbara Papillon to Leicester Costume Museum in 1981.

No more has been heard of the curse, but some Lubenham folk still remember tales of Old Pamp and his mysterious mistress.

The remains of Papillon Hall can be reached from the main road between Lubenham and Theddingworth (about 600 metres from the village) along a track-marked field footpath to Gumley (close to Bramfield Caravan Park). There remains a high wall standing at the back of a small meadow, with a ruined summer house, two gate piers, and a few steps leading down to an ornamental pond.

Read local man David Allen's fascinating and detailed historical account of the story and his strange visit to see the hall's remains and the slippers themselves!


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