Although its present appearance owes much to 19th century alterations, the origins of the Historic Wardrobe 58 The Close lie in the 13th century and the overall shape of a central hall (originally open to the roof) with two service wings still remains.
At first the residence of one of the canons who served the Salisbury Cathedral it later passed into the hands of the Bishop of Salisbury. It is probable that use as a storehouse and administrative base for the Bishop’s household led to its name of The Wardrobe, a title first recorded in 1543.
In the 18th century members of the Coles family divided the upper and lower halls, forming on the ground floor an entrance hall, staircase hall and dining room, the arrangement which survives today. A central entrance replaced the large window on the courtyard side of the original lower hall.
After use in the Second World War as a hostel of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) it was rented in 1945 by the Diocesan Training College for Schoolmistresses to provide accommodation for 25 students and 2 members of staff. This use continued until 1969. The building then remained empty for some years, with its future in doubt.
During the 1970s negotiations took place for the building to become a museum for The Rifles (Berkshire and Wiltshire) Museum and finally in the summer of 1981 the Museum was officially opened by HRH The Prince Philip, Colonel-in-Chief of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment, on 29 July 1982.
As well as warranting an appearance in ‘Paranormal Wiltshire’, the Wardrobe is known locally as a very haunted location. Former inhabitant, Margaret Hussey is said to have been seen in the Regimental Room. In 1951 trainee teachers saw a ghost of a lady in green at the foot of their beds and then disappear into the wall. The next night they all put their beds together! – and saw it again but not thereafter.
Now it’s your chance to discover the real hauntings of Wardrobe and to join paranormal experts and a clairvoyant medium to undertake a real ghost hunt!
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