By Alex Jones
YOU COULD stay in this SIX-HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD HOME featured in Harry Potter for just over one hundred pounds per night – but beware of the GHOSTS.
For just £110 per night, you are invited to spend the night in the remarkable De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, home to countless stories of witchcraft and ghostly goings on.
The Grade I listed property has a gruesome history dating back centuries but became even more recognisable after its appearance in the epic Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part One.
The house, and the village which surrounds it, provides the inspiration for the wizarding community called Godric’s Hollow where Harry Potter was born and his parents were murdered on October 31, 1981. De Vere House was one of the main inspirations behind Potter Cottage, where ‘the boy who lived’ helped end the deadly uprising of Voldemort and his legion of Death Eaters an Harry got his distinctive lightning bolt scar.
Jane and Tony Ranzetta have lived in the fascinating 14th century home for over 20 years and have transformed the stunning heritage building into a fabulous guesthouse – providing you don’t mind sharing with some other ghoulish guests.
But the De Vere House’s spooktacular appeal does not end with its appearance in the Harry Potter films.
“JK Rowling was well acquainted with the village and we know her friend stayed here whilst she was in the process of writing the books, it was surely in her mind when she created Godric’s Hollow,” said Tony.
“The house is often referred to as ‘The Harry Potter House’ by locals and in the media, and a huge picture of our front door can be seen at the Warner Bros’ exhibition on the making of Harry Potter.
“In fact, one of the property’s resident ghosts Sir Francis De Vere is inspiration for the character of Nearly Headless Nick – Gryffindor’s house ghost who was subject to a botched execution whilst he was alive – and John Cleese’s outfit in the films is remarkably similar to the portrait of Francis’ costume in his portrait.
“The whole story is quite peculiar really. Just after we first moved into the house, Jane saw a uniquely dressed man walk through the kitchen wall and into the garden beyond. She was obviously taken aback but understands that a house with this much history must surely hold echoes of the past.
“It was at a later date when we were in the National Portrait Gallery in Monacute House. We’d been visiting friends when she suddenly gasped and said, ‘that’s the ghost I saw!’, pointing halfway down a long row of paintings. After finding a portrait guide, we found out it was, of course, Sir Francis. It was the very first time that portrait had been on public display so she couldn’t have seen it before then. We have a copy of that painting downstairs now – I’m sure he likes it.”
The De Vere property, which is currently on the market with estate agent Carter Jonas for £950,000, also has numerous other mischievous residents.
“Becky is our poltergeist, she moves things around and really doesn’t like it when priests or nuns come to stay,” continued Tony.
“She’s taken wedding rings and other keepsakes before now – but she’ll usually return them if we ask her nicely. She has to be treated like a child. We’re quite lucky, usually poltergeist are malign but Becky doesn’t seem to be.
“Usually somebody becomes a poltergeist if they’ve been subject of a witch’s curse or similar, so we think Becky was probably thrust upon a former homeowner and now just hangs around, shutting doors and turning the TV and radio on and off, just being mischievous rather than dangerous.”
So what is it like to be surrounded by spirits in the supposed comfort of your own home?
“It is usually Jane who sees them,” admits Tony.
“She’ll tell me all about it last thing at night, just before we go to bed. I think she’s just got used to them and works around them, like we do with our visitors and guests. They’re harmless.
“It’s a wonderful house which we love people to see. It’s especially good at parties. We think the house likes to entertain.”
Alongside a raft of paranormal associations, the house has a significant amount of tangible history as well. The house takes its name from the De Vere family and has previously been known as Oxenford House and Oxford House.
In medieval times, the De Vere family was the second-richest family after the king and were responsible for creating much of Lavenham’s medieval grandeur – noted as one of the UK’s finest medieval communities. Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford is widely believed to be the true author of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare.
The house has retained its period features, including a massive timber frame, fireplaces, wall paintings and a rare stone spiral staircase with a carved brick handrail.
At the peak of its popularity, it is estimated that 5,000 people would come every weekend to photograph the magnificent home.
For more information on staying at the Harry Potter house, please visit https://www.deverehouse.co.uk/
For more information on the sale of the De Vere House, please visit www.carterjonas.co.uk/house/for-sale/lavenham/mel170078