6 Sep 2011
Is a Stratford-upon-Avon hotel Britain's most haunted?
Sep 5 2011
IS this Britain’s most haunted hotel?
Built in the 12th century, Ettington Park, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, is one of the oldest buildings in the Midlands.
And things, it seems, regularly go bump in the night
The hall was originally a family home to the Shirleys until Sewallis Shirley died in 1912. It then changed hands several times until 1935 when it became a nursing home.
During the Second World War it was turned into a Prisoner of War camp for Italian soldiers.
Its next incarnation was as a nightclub.
But it became derelict after being destroyed by fire in 1979, until it was rescued by a hotel chain in 1983 and restored to its former glory.
And it seems its chequered history has refused to allow the building to rest in peace.
Hotel guests have reported spooky goings-on, including:
l Footsteps have been heard clomping around empty rooms;
l Mysterious floating figures have stared out of windows;
l The sound of billiard balls clinking against one another in a deserted library;
l A floating candle was seen on an oak mantelpiece;
l An elderly Victorian lady has been seen in the Conservatory;
l Women’s voices have been heard in an empty drawing room;
l Books have been known to fly from shelves in the library;
l On the main staircase, the ghost of Mary, a servant who died in a fall, has been seen.
The reports have got the neo-Gothic mansion featured in an online directory of the country’s scariest overnight stays, www.hauntedhotelguide.com.
One guest, Stan Smit, has written on the website: “I stayed in the Old Tower Room, and I had to go downstairs to complain to the manager about the people in the room above me.
“I was awakened at 1.30am with them stomping around and banging doors.
“The manager stared at me for a moment, then said: ‘But sir, there is no room above yours, only the attic’.
“I then discovered that 200 years ago a woman had been hanged in the attic, directly above my room.”
A second guest said: “A friend of mine used to work here.
“In a particular room, the telephone used to ring the hotel reception switchboard, even though there was no-one staying in it.
“On another occasion the hotel had been gutted by fire. Workmen arrived on the first morning to commence the building’s reconstruction and noticed a white figure looking out of one of the first-floor windows.
“It wasn’t until they were well inside the premises that they noticed there was no room there. It had been destroyed by the fire.”
The hotel is set in 40 acres of rolling countryside six miles away from medieval Stratford.
It was used as a location for the 1963 film chiller The Haunting, one of the creepiest ghost movies ever made.
The Warwickshire hotel is not the only Midland stately home to make it on to www.hauntedhotelguide.com. Also included is Coombe Abbey, in Coventry, Warwickshire.
It is renowned for its ghostly inhabitants, one of whom is Abott Geoffrey, who was brutally murdered in 1345.
The website also covers the 16th century manor house Madeley Court. Guests have reported seeing mysterious dark shapes hovering by the windows, ghostly Victorian maids in the corridors and phantom monks in the gardens.