Haunt Jaunts is pleased to welcome back guest blogger Eve Pearce, who this time treats us to five spooky stays in rural England.
The English countryside is full of enchanting villages and picturesque market towns, places with long and noble histories but also many rural places that conceal a far darker and ghostly past. There are plenty of haunted hotels in England which are linked to supernatural stories and spooky goings-on – here are five of the best.
Elvey Farm, Pluckley, Kent
On first appearances Pluckley could be the quintessential ‘garden of England’ village, a quaint little collection of houses, farms, a church, all fringed by pretty woodland close to the rolling hills of the North Downs in Kent. But the Pluckley is named by the Guinness Book of Records as the ‘most haunted village in England’, populated by at least fourteen ghosts, and the forest that lines the village is named the Screaming Woods due to the lost souls that howl and yelp among the trees at night time.
Visitors to the village may wish to spend the night at the bed and breakfast which is housed in Elvey Farm, the focal point of Pluckley’s ghost activity. The guest lounge is the haunt of Robert DuBois, a highwayman who used to rob his victims at the village’s ‘Fright Corner’ but who was eventually killed and pinned to a tree. Elvey Farm’s dairy is home to the ghost of Edward Brett, a farmer who shot himself in the building in 1900, while a ghost that looks like Stalin stalks the barn.
Other ghosts known to haunt the village include the screaming Man of the Brickworks, the Watercress Lady, at least two Lady Derings (one called the Red Lady, the other the White Lady), a ghostly horse and carriage, the Phantom Monk of Greystones, the Colonel of Park Woods, the Phantom of the Pinnocks, the Lady of Rose Court and Henry Turff, the Phantom Headmaster of Smarden School. There are plenty of organized ghost tours that visitors can join to discover Pluckley and its spirits or the more daring may wish to explore the village on their own or even spend a night camping out in the Screaming Woods.
Grosvenor Hotel, Shaftesbury, Dorset
The Grosvenor Hotel is a charming listed building in the ancient settlement of Shaftesbury in the county of Dorset. Shaftesbury itself is a stunning example of a small English town: sloping cobbled streets and old cottages clinging to a chalk hillside high above the Blackmore Vale – it is known as one of the oldest and highest towns in Britain. The Grosvenor Hotel was first built as a 16th Century coaching house and, despite renovations over the years, still retains some of the original features, not to mention a haunting collection of ghosts. The phantasm of a hooded monk occupies the hotel’s cellar and terrorizes members of staff sent there on errands while the upper floors bear witness to the ghost of the Grey Lady who is thought to be the spirit of a nun who stayed at the hotel during the upheavals of the Reformation in the 16th Century. Guests report hearing floorboards creaking throughout the night as the Grey Lady paces up and down and she has been known to appear before guests as they return to their rooms in the dead of night. Paranormal experts have identified the Grosvenor as one of the most haunted hotels in England and many have tried to capture the ghosts on film – any ghosthunter staying here should bring a camera and prepare for the appearance of the monk, the Grey Lady or the other spirits that haunt the hotel. But always ensure that you and your equipment is protected – some of these ghouls become angry when mortals trespass in their domain!
The Schooner Hotel, Alnmouth, Northumberland
Another hotel that has legitimate claims to be the most haunted in England is the Schooner Hotel in Alnmouth in Northumberland. The ancient coastal village of Alnmouth was a centre for trade and smuggling for centuries and the Schooner, built in the 1600s, has accommodated a multitude of smugglers, thieves, killers and many other type of transgressor. The hotel has been the scene for numerous murders, suicides and family slaughters and, with over 3,000 reports of supernatural occurrences, these tragedies have left an indelible stain on the building.
The Bull Hotel, Long Melford, Suffolk
Set in the pretty village of Long Melford among the countryside on the Suffolk-Essex border which the artist John Constable made famous in his landscape paintings, The Bull is a traditional English country pub and hotel dating back to 1450. With such a long history it will come as no surprise to ghosthunters that the hotel is home to several spirits and the scene of much paranormal activity. Dog owners report that their pets behave very strangely inside the hotel and become agitated and anxious to leave, guests have seen poltergeists tossing bottles and crockery around the rooms while footsteps and whispers can be heard emanating from empty bedchambers. Room number 4 is thought to be the most haunted of the hotel’s rooms, and the ghost in question is said to be that of Richard Evered who was stabbed to death during an argument at the hotel in 1648. Following his murder, other guests unsuccessfully attempted to revive Evered and then ran to get help. When they returned his body had vanished and now his restless spirit haunts the hotel’s rooms and corridors.
The Feathers Hotel, Ludlow, Shropshire
The Feathers Hotel in the Shropshire town of Ludlow is stunning example of Tudor architecture with a remarkable half-timbered façade and various Jacobean features. Local attorney Rees Jones constructed the building in 1619 and it became an inn after the end of the English Civil War. A popular place to stay for travelers visiting Ludlow Castle and the town for several centuries, the hotel has gathered numerous tales of haunting and ghostly behavior.
A Victorian gentleman has been spotted taking his dog for a walk through some of the rooms, effortlessly passing through walls with his canine companion, while an evil phantom stalks room 211 – the ghoul once dragged a female guest from the bed by her hair and soaked her in icy water while her husband continued to happily slumber. For five weeks in 1869 there was an eruption of supernatural events at the hotel which caused crowds of people to flock there and try to witness the haunting. The hotel’s bells rang out at night, apparently controlled by spirits, and veiled-apparitions appeared to the terror of the onlookers. The hotel cook was frightened half to death and fled her job while the hotel management noted an increase in profits and subsequently promoted The Feathers as a destination for ghost tours. Ghosthunters exploring the west of England continue to highlight The Feathers Hotel as a must-see to explore the hauntings in this ancient and mysterious building.