A Yorkshire castle has had to return an insurance pay-out after four 'stolen' candlesticks re-appeared in strange circumstances.
The silver Georgian treasures vanished from Ripley Castle, near Harrogate, on Christmas Eve in 2014, but the stately home's owner, Sir Thomas Ingilby, did not report the 'theft' until May 2016.
Specialist insurers Ecclesiastical paid out £8,500 and replacements were purchased to display in Ripley's strong room.
Yet the candlesticks have now re-appeared, and the Ingilby family suspects a mischievous poltergeist could be to blame.
“I remember saying several times that I thought the candlesticks would reappear eventually and even held off on reporting the theft to Ecclesiastical,” said Sir Thomas.
“But we searched the castle thoroughly and, with no sign of them, we had to make the claim.”
The silverware was found on a shelf in the strong room, inside a bright red Christmas-themed carrier bag.
“They were impossible to miss! In fact, to add insult to injury, they were sitting right next to the bag containing the replacements that we had purchased with the money from Ecclesiastical.
“Three of us had searched the strong room from top to bottom and I had searched it on three separate occasions myself before making the claim, so to find them sitting there in such plain view was quite astounding.”
The castle has a history of poltergeist activity and Sir Thomas suspects that the candlesticks’ ‘movements’ are down to his ancestors Henry and Mary Ingilby, who died of leukaemia in the castle in the late 19th century when they were aged only seven and five.
On a previous occasion, a dessert spoon from a set of cutlery disappeared for 18 months before miraculously reappearing in its rightful place in the locked wooden canteen.
David Bonehill, claims director for Ecclesiastical, said: “As a specialist insurer, we are trusted to protect some of the country’s most irreplaceable treasures and are delighted to hear that the candlesticks have been safely returned.
“We often have customers contact us when items that were feared lost turn up unexpectedly, but these tend to be smaller items like jewellery, which are easy to mislay. This is certainly the first time a customer has reimbursed us for items they suspect was returned by a ghost!”