Through the keyhole of Gareth Southgate’s ghostly haunt


Deep in the woods in a valley in North Yorkshire stands an imposing oak-beamed manor house dating back to the reign of Elizabeth I.

For more than 500 years Swinsty Hall has stood, lashed and buffeted by English wind and rain, while beyond its imposing stone walls, kings, queens, religions and politicians have risen and fallen.

Once it had become dilapidated, but today the illustrious Grade I-listed property, with its 4.5 acres of landscaped gardens, is befitting of its multi-million-pound price-tag. What its previous residents — and incumbent ghost — would make of its current owner, however, is anyone’s guess.

But judging by the mood in the UK at the moment, it’s fair to surmise they would be very, very proud. Probably even the ghastly spectre could raise a hollow cheer as England take on Denmark tonight.

For the ‘lord’ of the manor is none other than England football manager, Gareth Southgate — husband, father and fully fledged national hero.

And in many ways, the house also offers a fascinating insight into Southgate’s character — a man known for doing things his own way. 

Deep in the woods in a valley in North Yorkshire stands an imposing oak-beamed manor house dating back to the reign of Elizabeth I owned by Gareth Southgate

The England football manager and his wife Alison (pictured with their children) bought the house in 2006 for £3.25 million

The England football manager and his wife Alison (pictured with their children) bought the house in 2006 for £3.25 million

Ever one to eschew the flashy lifestyle and ostentatious demonstrations of wealth beloved by so many of his fellow former professionals, Swinsty Hall offers privacy and refinement set over four wood-panelled floors.

At the same time its interiors hint at luxurious living — think giant glass coffee tables, a state-of-the-art kitchen and cinema and leisure room complete with electronic reclining seats.

Southgate and his wife Alison bought the house in 2006 for £3.25 million. The money bought him 9,000 square feet of living space, including six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a library, wine cellar and kitchen complete with inglenook fireplace — where countless peacocks and suckling pigs were roasted over the centuries — together with original bread ovens and cauldron holder.

The 4.5-acre gardens are equally impressive, featuring a typical Elizabethan knot garden — an ornate pattern of low hedges set in a square frame — a rose garden and a water garden fed by a meandering stream.

As with any property of this age, the Southgates purchased more than just bricks and mortar. They were buying a piece of history.

And included in that history is the haunting story of a guilt-ridden ghost who, to this day, is said to be unable to rest in peace because of the unedifying circumstances in which he purchased the pile.

While Swinsty Hall clearly provides a peaceful retreat for its current owner, turn the clock back 400-odd years and for Henry Robinson the opposite was true. Because where land registry documents show that the Southgates bought their home with the help of a mortgage from the Clydesdale Bank, his forerunner’s funds came from an altogether more questionable source.

The story begins in the 16th century when Francis Wood, the son of estate owner Ralph Wood, got engaged to a woman by the name of Ellen Sotell. As part of the marriage arrangements her father agreed to fund the construction of a house for them.

For reasons that remain unknown, Francis Wood later experienced money problems and made the mistake of raising a loan from Henry Robinson — a man of very low morals and immense wealth.

Once it had become dilapidated, but today the illustrious Grade I-listed property, with its 4.5 acres of landscaped gardens, is befitting of its multi-million-pound price-tag (bedroom pictured)

Once it had become dilapidated, but today the illustrious Grade I-listed property, with its 4.5 acres of landscaped gardens, is befitting of its multi-million-pound price-tag (bedroom pictured)

Included in its history is the haunting story of a guilt-ridden ghost who, to this day, is said to be unable to rest in peace because of the unedifying circumstances in which he purchased the pile (living room pictured)

Included in its history is the haunting story of a guilt-ridden ghost who, to this day, is said to be unable to rest in peace because of the unedifying circumstances in which he purchased the pile (living room pictured)

Local legend has it that Robinson had grown up in a cottage not far from where the first hall buildings stood, working as a poorly paid weaver.

But his fortunes were transformed when he apparently travelled to London, an event described by the author William Grainge in his 1895 book The History Of The Timbles And Snowden.

‘This young man left his humble home, travelled to London at a time when the plague was raging in that city; when death had left many houses totally uninhabited and desolate, wherein no survivors were left to bury the dead and no heirs to claim their wealth,’ he wrote.

Spotting an opportunity, the unscrupulous Robinson took to looting the houses of the dead.

Grainge continued: ‘Our north country adventurer seeing this state of things, not forgetting himself amid the general mourning and confusion, took possession of the gold thus left without an owner, to such an extent, that he loaded a wagon and team of horses with the wealth thus acquired with which he returned homeward, and, in due time, again reached the place of his birth.’

Despite his newly acquired riches, on his return home none of his old neighbours would put him up. Aware of the plague-hit city from which he had returned, they feared infection. Instead, he first took up residence in a barn and then, when Wood later defaulted on the loan Robinson made to him, took over Swinsty Hall.

In the meantime, he appears to have attempted to literally ‘launder’ the money he had stolen. Grainge explained: ‘In order to cleanse his gold from any infectious taint which might possibly cling to it, Robinson washed the whole carefully in the Greenwell Spring, which well yet remains, bearing the same name.’

And from that day to this, say locals, there are periodic sightings of Robinson’s ghostly apparition desperately trying to rub the coins clean, forever haunted by the memories of those from whom he stole.

The Southgates bought the property in 2006 when Gareth was made manager of Middlesbrough. After a playing career that saw him notch up more than 500 league appearances and 57 England caps, he needed somewhere to live having retired from playing professional football, aged 35

The Southgates bought the property in 2006 when Gareth was made manager of Middlesbrough. After a playing career that saw him notch up more than 500 league appearances and 57 England caps, he needed somewhere to live having retired from playing professional football, aged 35

Its interiors hint at luxurious living — think giant glass coffee tables, a state-of-the-art kitchen and cinema and leisure room complete with electronic reclining seats (bathroom pictured)

Its interiors hint at luxurious living — think giant glass coffee tables, a state-of-the-art kitchen and cinema and leisure room complete with electronic reclining seats (bathroom pictured)

The house remained in the hands of the Robinson family until 1772, when it passed, by marriage, to the Bramley family. In the late 1800s, it was sold to Leeds Corporation to facilitate the construction of the Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs. While Swinsty Hall survived the subsequent submersion of much of the surrounding land, and stands on the banks of the reservoir to this day, a nearby mansion was less fortunate.

Beneath the waters of the reservoir are the remains of New Hall, originally a home to the Fairfax family, whose members included the poet Edward Fairfax, an expert on demonology.

He became convinced that his three daughters, Ann, Elizabeth and Ellen, were bewitched by six local women and when the youngest of his daughters, died in October 1621, Fairfax went on to declare the women witches.

The women were brought to trial at York the next year, but the case collapsed when a friend of Ellen’s admitted that the visions had been an attention-seeking ruse dreamed up by her father, and agreed to by the Fairfax children in order to get their father’s attention.

The case was seen as ‘the last gasp of witchcraft trials’ when people, on the cusp of modernity, were starting to be ‘more accepting of each other’.

After centuries of public ownership which saw it fall into disrepair, Swinsty Hall once again reverted to private ownership in the 1980s.

In 1991 its new owners, historic property developers Chris and Eileen Taylor, spent years restoring its ancient fabric.

They had the house rewired, replumbed, reroofed, insulated and had central heating installed and releaded the windows.

The Southgates bought the property in 2006 when Gareth was made manager of Middlesbrough. After a playing career that saw him notch up more than 500 league appearances and 57 England caps, he needed somewhere to live having retired from playing professional football, aged 35. They also needed a family home in which to raise their children, Mia, now 21, and Flynn, 17.

They in turn spent thousands more putting their own touches on the property and fell in love with Yorkshire.

Family gatherings were conducted at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms in nearby Harrogate, where a favourite is its £4.25 Yorkshire Fat Rascal Scone, or at their local fish and chip shop, the Wetherby Whaler.

House's history includes the haunting story of a guilt-ridden ghost who, to this day, is said to be unable to rest in peace because of the unedifying circumstances in which he purchased the pile.

House’s history includes the haunting story of a guilt-ridden ghost who, to this day, is said to be unable to rest in peace because of the unedifying circumstances in which he purchased the pile.

Southgates spent thousands more putting their own touches on the property as they fell in love with Yorkshire

Southgates spent thousands more putting their own touches on the property as they fell in love with Yorkshire

Southgate has spoken of his love of the area, and of visiting Sheffield, Hull and York and taking his two dogs for walks around the Dales.

Asked what he liked so much about the county, he said: ‘The people and their hardworking, no-nonsense attitude, good values, honesty and humility that really shines through. All things I associate with. I also love to come away from matches, to the calm of living in the countryside, and being able to clear my head.’

Yorkshire also fell in love with the Southgates. Describing the family as ‘lovely people’, one resident recalled how they reacted when carol singers warbled hopefully outside the gates of their mansion one Christmas. ‘They came down to meet us with a torch and invited us up to the house,’ he said.

‘The Southgates were all there with the kids and another family. They had lit two roaring fires and showed us into their Elizabethan dining room, where we all had mulled wine and sang carols together.’

But, wanting to move nearer to their children’s school, in 2013 they put it on the market for £3.75 million. It was described as ‘a wonderful English country house that is presented in excellent order with lovely interiors that have an impressive contemporary twist’, by Tim Waring of upmarket estate agent Knight Frank at the time.

To deter nosy fans, all potential buyers had to prove they could afford the house before being allowed to tour the property.

But despite dropping the price by £500,000 the house did not sell and, when Southgate was made England manager in 2016, he decided to take it off the market in order to concentrate on his new job.

Gareth endeared himself further to local people by proving he is just as handy with a cricket bat as he is on the football pitch.

While England played in the last European Championships in 2016, father and son turned out for a local village cricket team.

A scorecard uncovered from then shows the manager padded up for Harrogate-based side Pannal Ash’s 1st XI as they took on local rivals Spofforth seconds.

And Southgate, then the England under-21s boss, showed his cricketing prowess by scoring 22 not out as his side won by five wickets. His innings included four fours.

The canny, and sensible Gareth Southgate has not stopped at Swinsty, when it comes to his property portfolio, however. In 2019 he set up a company called MAS Investment Holdings. Its activities are listed as the ‘buying and selling of own real estate’ and ‘other letting and operating of own or leased real estate’. In December of the same year the company bought the freeholds of two properties in London, comprising four residential flats and two shops.

One building in Streatham Hill cost £550,000 while another in Purley High Street was bought for £300,000.

He and his wife are directors, while the couple, along with children Mia and Flynn, jointly own the company.

While doubtless very good investments, it’s fair to say that neither of the family’s new acquisitions have quite the rich history of his North Yorkshire bolthole: typical of the humble Southgates, one of the shops is leased to a hairdresser while the other is home to a branch of American sandwich takeaway chain Subway. Flashy and ostentatious? It’s never been his way.

And as a man whose reputation has been built on laying past ghosts to rest — be it missing that decisive penalty when England lost to Germany at Euro 96 or the nation’s 55-year wait to defeat arch-rivals Germany in a knockout match — the whole nation will tonight be cheering him on. Or, in the case of the restless Henry Robinson, simply rattling his gold coins in support.

 England’s secret weapon: How Gareth Southgate’s devoted wife – a former shop assistant he was once too shy to ask out – is guiding him through his Euros campaign… despite being kept APART by Covid rules

As Gareth Southgate celebrated England’s string of successes at Euro 2020 there was sure to be one woman, who has played a secret but significant part in the team’s success, on his mind. 

The England boss, 49, has been married to his wife of two decades Alison, 53, whose off-pitch support the manager has credited with keeping him grounded.  

The blonde former sales assistant is a constant supportive presence, but shuns the flashy WAG lifestyle and largely remains out of the spotlight to focus on their two children Mia, 21, and Flynn, 17.

Gareth has spoken openly about how time with his wife and their two children helps to keep him sane away from the pitch and his own experience has long inspired his ‘family first’ strategy with the team.

But this tournament is unlike any other: and, despite being separated from her husband as he stays within the secure England Covid bubble during the Euros, Alison, who is said not to be a fan of football, has been spotted cheering the team on from the stands.

Gareth Southgate, 49, has been married to Alison, 53, for more than 20 years and has credited her off-pitch support with keeping him grounded (Pictured: At Wimbledon in 2019)

Gareth Southgate, 49, has been married to Alison, 53, for more than 20 years and has credited her off-pitch support with keeping him grounded (Pictured: At Wimbledon in 2019)

The England manager met his future wife in his early 20s when he was a trainee with Crystal Palace in Croydon and she was a pretty boutique shop assistant. Pictured: Gareth celebrates as England score against Germany in the Euros 2020

The England manager met his future wife in his early 20s when he was a trainee with Crystal Palace in Croydon and she was a pretty boutique shop assistant. Pictured: Gareth celebrates as England score against Germany in the Euros 2020

The former player was in his early 20s and a trainee at Crystal Palace when he fell for Alison, a pretty boutique assistant almost four years his senior.

He would loiter around her boutique pretending to be browsing clothes, and was helped by the owner of an Italian restaurant in Croydon, which he and Alison frequented, who acted as a go-between.

Having been teased for his prominent nose, he was so unconfident of his looks that it took him about two years to ask her out. 

When he finally did, she told him she was living with someone. However, she eventually left her boyfriend for Southgate.

He' been teased for prominent nose and felt too shy that it took him about two years to ask her out

When he did they initially keep their romance secret as she was dating someone else

Alison is a constant supportive presence, but shuns the flashy WAG lifestyle and largely remains out of the spotlight to focus on their two children Mia, 21, and Flynn, 17 

Despite not being a football fan, Alison was seen in the stands ahead of the Euro 2020 match against Scotland

Despite not being a football fan, Alison was seen in the stands ahead of the Euro 2020 match against Scotland  

EURO 2020 COVID BUBBLE GUIDELINES 

Government guidance states that ‘close contacts’ of Covid cases include people who had face-to-face conversations within one-metre, and anyone who was within two-metres for more than 15 minutes.

Players at Euro 2020 are tested regularly, and those who are positive must self-isolate for 10 days.

Any other players or staff deemed to have been in close contact with someone with Covid during the tournament also have to isolate for 10 days.

The isolation period for close contacts of Covid cases includes the date of their last contact and the next 10 full days, according to government guidance.

For this reason, Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were forced to isolate after having a ’20 minute chat’ with Chelsea team-mate Billy Gilmour after England’s match with Scotland. Gilmour later tested positive.

Euro 2020 squads were expanded from 23 players to 26 to account for the chance that some teams could be hit by Covid outbreaks.

If multiple players have to isolate, matches will still go ahead providing the team can name 13 players in their squad – a minimum of 12 outfield players plus one goalkeeper.

If a team cannot name 13 players in their squad, the game can be postponed by up to 48 hours.

If the affected team still cannot meet the minimum requirements for a matchday squad, they will forfeit the game and suffer an automatic 3-0 defeat.

Each media day at the England training base, a long serving tradition sees a member of the squad who is up for interview that day play darts against one of the attending reporters.

This has continued during Euro 2020, despite stricter measures in place to minimise contact between England players and the outside world.

 

In his book, Southgate recalls how he and Alison would meet in a Tesco car park to keep their romance secret from her ex. 

However, when he was transferred to Aston Villa, she gave him an ultimatum: either she moved to Birmingham with him or the relationship must end.

His parents, were ‘a little taken aback’ when they announced they were living together because they had only met her once.

They ‘found it hard to believe that a son who had been so methodical, logical and weighed up everything’ would behave so capriciously.

She supported a devastated Gareth as he recovered from England’s 1996 defeat after he missed the crucial penalty in the Wembley.

They married in June 1997, in a low-key ceremony at his parents’ local church, carefully planned between World Cup and European Championship campaigns. 

The family home is Swinsty Hall, a magnificent Grade I-listed Elizabethan manor nestled in the wilds of North Yorkshire, that he bought for £3.75 million when he moved to Middlesbrough.

Neighbours remark on the family’s down-to-earth nature and generosity of spirit.

Describing them as ‘lovely people’, one local resident this week recalled how they reacted when carol singers warbled hopefully outside the gates of their mansion at Christmas.

‘They came down to meet us with a torch and invited us up to the house. The Southgates were all there with the kids and another family. They had lit two roaring fires and showed us into their Elizabethan dining room where we all had mulled wine and sang carols together.’

And he’s spoken frequently about how his wife and children help him to stay sane away from the pitch.  

Describing, in his 2003 autobiography, how family life helps him overcome football disappointments, he comments: ‘On Saturday evening, our children are not too bothered whether Dad’s team have won or lost.

‘Neither does Alison fret too much about football, and this is how I like it. Regardless of the result, it is up to me to ensure that no one’s evening is ruined because of things that happened on a football field. 

‘The agonising waits until Alison and the kids are asleep.’

In 2017, he described how he was unwinding with his family ahead of preparing the England team for the world cup.  

‘Over the last couple of weeks I’ve just had a nice time spending it with the family though, and for me that’s important because my kids are 18 and 14, and their development is as important for me as anything else in my life,’ he told the Evening Standard.

‘You do have to try to find a balance because my focus inevitably gets drawn towards making this team as successful as we can and driving them to be the best team in the world, but I’m also a dad and a husband.’

Meanwhile in 2018 Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah confirmed that Southgate’s tactic is to allow players time with their loved ones, unlike in previous major tournaments.

‘He’s got the right idea of the team mentality,’ she told The Sun at the time. ‘He’s really relaxed with the players and he makes an effort with all of the families. 

‘He really encourages family days after games which relaxes the players, it brings a bit of normality in.’

They married in June 1997, in a low-key ceremony at his parents' local church, St Nicholas in Crawley, that was planned between World Cup and European Championship campaigns

They married in June 1997, in a low-key ceremony at his parents’ local church, St Nicholas in Crawley, that was planned between World Cup and European Championship campaigns

Gareth Southgate says Euro 96 penalty miss is ‘always going to hurt’ despite managing England to victory over Germany in the Euro 2020 last-16…

Gareth Southgate revealed nothing can get rid of the pain of his Euro 96 semi-final penalty miss despite him managing England to victory over Germany 25 years later.

The Three Lions beat Joachim Low’s side 2-0 at Wembley to reach the Euro 2020 quarter-finals thanks to late goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane on Tuesday night.

Southgate missed the crucial penalty for England in the Euro 96 last-four in the same stadium four years ago, with the England boss admitting that the sight of his former England team-mates celebrating Tuesday night’s win caused a bit of sadness in him.

The 50-year-old told the BBC: ‘I’m just so pleased. I was looking at the big screen and I saw David Seaman up there. The team-mates that played with me, I can’t change that, so that’s always going to hurt.

‘But what’s lovely is we’ve given people another day to remember and now we’ve got to go and do it in Rome.’

 

 

Clive Southgate previously told DailyMail his daughter-in-law had little interest in the sport, saying: ‘Actually, I don’t think Alison likes football very much.

‘Obviously she has to take an interest because it’s Gareth’s job, and she is always very supportive. 

‘She will sometimes go to Wembley for an international game — but not during the school term because she always puts the children first.’

According to one family source, she is a committed animal rights campaigner, and is backing calls to end battery-farmed pigs being caged.

Her father-in-law said she and Gareth enjoy socialising with a ‘wide circle of friends’, but neighbours in North Yorkshire have said she seems happiest when wandering the countryside in jeans and boots with her two dogs, a Labrador and a cockapoo. 

She is thought to be a vegetarian, she attends regular yoga classes and on Facebook expressed her envy of a friend who was at the Glastonbury Festival. 

She also takes holidays with girlfriends — Barbados is a favourite destination — for she has no need to work.

She retains her looks with daily gym workouts and frequent appointments with a beautician.

And while she is unable to unite with her husband while he remains in the Covid, she was spotted in the stands ahead of the team’s match against Scotland last Friday.

The striking blonde could be seen alongside a group of friends as she stood in Wembley, opting to forgo the traditional England shirt for a more lowkey white-tshirt and blazer.  

Thousands of elated football fans hurled half-drunk beers into the air and embraced strangers in celebration as England secured a long-awaited victory over Germany tonight.

Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane led the Three Lions to a 2-0 win in a tense clash at Wembley in the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, with fans across England now daring to dream that victory may be in sight.

Waves of rapturous applause filled the stadium as Manchester City’s Sterling first slotted the ball home, breaking a 0-0 first-half deadlock. 

Kane swiftly followed up with a neat header – sending his thrilled teammates piling on their captain in celebration as chants of ‘it’s coming home’ filled the stadium.

The elation spilled into fan zones across England – including in Manchester and Birmingham – with Britons proudly draping the St George’s flag over their shoulders when the squad’s first knockout tournament win against Germany in 55 years was secured.

She supported a devastated Gareth as he recovered from England's 1996 defeat after he missed the crucial penalty in the Wembley (Southgate pictured after missing his penalty)

She supported a devastated Gareth as he recovered from England’s 1996 defeat after he missed the crucial penalty in the Wembley (Southgate pictured after missing his penalty)

Crowds in Three Lions jerseys later emerged from pubs and tore through the streets of London, Leeds and Newcastle, with hundreds who gathered in Leicester Square and Wembley spraying beers over onlookers and setting off colourful smoke bombs.

As the night continued, several revellers in Leeds were detained by officers and the Metropolitan Police were patrolling en masse in central London in a bid to control the jubilant celebrations.

There were similar scenes in Croydon, south London, where football fans embraced their friends and climbed on tables after Gareth Southgate’s men secured England a place in the Euro 2020 quarter finals.

Alison last hit the headlines when she was spotted hugging her husband in support after England's World Cup Semi Final match with Croatia

Alison last hit the headlines when she was spotted hugging her husband in support after England’s World Cup Semi Final match with Croatia 

But as excitable fans gathered to watch the nail-biting match, roads were left eerily deserted.

There wasn’t a car in sight on Westminster Bridge, London, or the A14 near Cambridge as the match began at 5pm today – a time that would typically be a bustling rush hour for commuters heading home.

An estimated 25 million fans tuned in to watch the Three Lions storm to a glorious victory on the pitch, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was photographed cheering at a TV set up in the Downing Street gardens.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk