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All fright on the night - the spookiest haunted places in the West Midlands

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

Ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night. Any tale of supernatural activity is sure to attract curiosity and fascination as believers and sceptics alike are keen to hear all the chilling details.

Ghost of the Grey Lady is said to still be roaming the grounds of Dudley Castle

And the the Black Country and Staffordshire has more than its fair share of spooky tales and the paranormal woven into its folklore.

Here are 10 of the most popular 'haunts' in the region:

Station Hotel, in Castle Hill, Dudley

Station Hotel, in Castle Hill, Dudley

Previous guests have included Bob Hope and Laurel and Hardy at the hotel, opposite Dudley Castle, which has become a magnet over the years for people with an interest in the paranormal.

One of the biggest draws for those interested in the supernatural is room 217. According to researcher Tracy Monger when a manager slept over in room 217 he got the surprise of his life.

Before going to bed, he hung a football shirt on a hanger over the a wardrobe. But his sleep was disturbed at 3am by a whispering sound in both ears.

One presence at the hotel is thought to be George Williams, a one-time manager of the hotel who alleged murdered Elizabeth Hitchens, a servant girl he lured into the cellar. Legend has it that Elizabeth spurned his advances and threatened to tell his wife, prompting Willliams - or Williamson as he is sometimes known - to strangle and stab her, before hiding her body in a barrel.

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West Bromwich Manor House

Manor House Museum, West Bromwich

The Manor House, which dates back to the 13th century, is believed to be haunted by three spirits, including a bearded man and two young girls, who are thought to live on the kitchen stairs.

For many years the building was used as a pub, but is now managed by Sandwell Council. During its years as a hostelry, tales have cropped up about poltergeists hurling glasses behind the bar and apparitions galore which include the ghost of a cat.

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Giffard Arms, Victoria Street, Wolverhampton

The Giffard Arms in Wolverhampton

One of the ghosts believed to haunt this pub is the spirit of Anne Horton, who has been reportedly seen following young men back from the pub at night.

She is said to have been a prostitute who took her own life on the site in the early 20th century. The pub was built in 1922, but the Giffard family had owned a house on the site prior to that.

There have been other sightings of a girl around the age of 11, who is often seen playing with wooden play bricks in the main bar.

Another sighting is of a man, who is believed to be an old landlord named John, who has been seen locking up the pub at night. He walks right through the actual bar area as it wasn't there when he had the pub. There have even been reports about a dog haunting the bar.

Bentley Hall, near Willenhall

Bentley Hall was demolished in 1929 amid fears that its walls were collapsing due to mineworkings in the area. But while the house is long gone, it seems that a guest from the 17th century still inhabits the former country estate.

Today, a cairn marks the spot where the hall once stood, and during the 1960s there were many reports of a friendly ghost, affectionately named Charlie by locals, seen at the cairn, 'wearing a long cloak and having the appearance of a cavalier'.

Haden Hill House, Cradley Heath

The house dates back to Tudor times and Mike Pearson, author of the Little Book of the Black Country, says it has seen its share of deaths over the years.

Eleanor — or possibly Elaine — of Hayseech Mill is said to wander the building looking for her lover, a monk from Halesowen Abbey.

Dudley Castle

One of the most famous tales here is of the Grey Lady, believed to be the ghost of a woman named Dorothy Beaumont.

She lived at the castle and gave birth to a daughter who died. She herself asked to be buried beside her daughter and for her husband to attend her funeral. Her requests were not carried out and she is reputed to still roam the grounds of the castle.

Most Haunted Live - Dudley Castle Part 2

Another much-reported ghost at Dudley Castle is that of a Civil War drummer boy. He was killed during a skirmish by a single bullet from one of the most inaccurate firearms invented, the 17th Century musket.

According to the Haunted Rooms website he's heard many times at night, banging away on his drum in various drum rolls as if in battle.

However, those of superstitious disposition are advised to give him a wide berth. It is deemed as bad luck to hear or see him due to the unfortunate nature in which he died.

The most haunted location in the castle is thought to be the chapel undercroft. In an ancient room there is a stone coffin, that is believed to have once held the body of one of the most castle's most feared Lords, John Somery. On many occasions, people have reported seeing legs beside the coffin.

Himley Hall

Himley Hall

Himley Hall, which in its 1920s and 30s heyday was a popular weekend retreat for royalty, provides fertile grounds for speculation about the identity of the ghosts said to haunt it.

Shortly after the army set up base, a mutiny broke out, and the leader was court-martialled, hanged and buried at the site.

Ancient High House, Stafford

Ancient High House, Stafford

On several occasions, the heavy oak doors on the top floor of the building have been seen to open and close by themselves. Once, when this happened, a female member of staff on duty noticed a tall, dark silhouette in the doorway. On further investigation, she discovered she was the only person on that floor.

In the Victorian room on the second floor people have been startled by sightings of an elderly woman sitting in the rocking chair and a young girl in Victorian dress standing in the middle of the room.

Staff also say there is always a chilling temperature in this room, even though the heating is on full blast.

The house was built in 1595, and in the past it has been used as a residential home, a school and an antique shop, but it is probably its role during the English Civil War which provides the most interesting talking point in explaining the phenomena.

It is where King Charles I and his nephew stayed in 1642, at the start of the war, and the following year, when Stafford was taken over by the Roundheads, it became a prison for royalist officers.

Cannock Chase

Fairly recent reports of the 'black-eyed girl' on Cannock Chase have led to a resurgence in speculation about strange activities around the beauty spot.

Last year there was a report of a child with 'coal-black pits for eye sockets' seen during a visit to the chase.

Starving Rascal, Stourbridge

Legend has it that sometime around the 1870s, a tramp came to the door of this pub at the on the corner of Collis Street and Brettell Lane in Amblecote, and asked for food and shelter. The landlord at the time refused, and the next morning the beggar was found dead on the doorstep.

It is believed that the pub has been cursed by the vagrant ever since.

The pub, which was originally called The Dudley Arms, changed its name in 1977 to reflect the tale, and a new sign was made showing the beggar and his disgruntled ghost.

Northycote Farm, Wolverhampton

In 1651, a representative of the fugitive King Charles II, on the run after the crushing defeat at the battle of Worcester, dropped in at Wolverhampton's Northycote Farm, appealing for refuge for the King.

However, her husband was away from home at the time ­— possibly himself fighting in the civil war ­— and the farmer's wife apparently turned down request, resulting in Charles fleeing to Moseley Old Hall.

It is said that, possibly as a gesture of remorse, the farmer's wife sent an attractive young maid to attend to the King during his brief stay in Wolverhampton. After the dalliance, the maid left Moseley Old Hall, but was never seen again.

However, it is not the unfortunate maid who is said to haunt the farm, but rather her grief-stricken lover, a farmhand who died from a broken heart, and is said to return to the farm, searching for his lost love.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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