Shropshire – a haunted haven

Woooo . . . It’s Halloween and there are spooks and spirits about. And in Shropshire, they’re everywhere, writes Toby Neal.

The legendary Wild Edric on white stallion, as depicted by Shrewsbury artist Rod Shaw
The legendary Wild Edric on white stallion, as depicted by Shrewsbury artist Rod Shaw

Woooo . . . It’s Halloween and there are spooks and spirits about. And in Shropshire, they’re everywhere, writes Toby Neal.

“As one of the most historic counties in England, it is perhaps not surprising that Shropshire is also one of the most haunted. It seems that almost everywhere the traveller turns there is a ghost to be found,” according to Rupert Matthews, a member of the Society of Psychical Research and the Ghost Club.

“There are some folk who may claim that there are no such things as ghosts. Well, they are entitled to their opinion, of course. But to travel Shropshire and visit the haunted places of this lovely county is to come into close contact with something quite mysterious.

“When I began these investigations I knew little about the supernatural side of the county. By the time I had spoken to dozens of people about their encounters with the phantoms and spectres of Shropshire, I had no doubt at all that this must rank among the most haunted places on earth.”

Now he has brought the stories together in a book, Haunted Places of Shropshire.

For those looking for a fright night, here, adapted from Mr Matthew’s book, are just some of the shocking ghosts and spirits you might encounter and where to find them...

The ghost of Ash Magna, floats about without any visible legs
The ghost of Ash Magna, floats about without any visible legs

The Ghost of Ash Magna

Haunt: The side road leading from the village centre to the church.

Appearance: A tall man dressed in a long, black coat that has a hood, or wearing a scarf. Resembles a monk, although there is no known monastery nearby. Usually has his head turned slightly away, so the face cannot be seen.

Modus operandi: Floats about without any visible legs.

Fright factor: 6.

Young Annie of Westbury

Haunt: Outside the Red Lion pub, where barmaid Annie was killed with a meat cleaver by her rebuffed butcher admirer.

Appearance: Reported to appear in less solid form since the old pub was pulled down and a modern replacement erected. One witness compared her to a dense patch of smoke.

Modus operandi: Doesn’t do much. Stands and stares as if lost and bewildered.

Fright factor: 6

Wild Edric

Haunt: Remote countryside around Minsterley area.

Appearance: Tall man, dressed in green, mounted on a great white stallion.

Modus operandi: This warrior rides about the hills to see if he is needed. Last seen with his armed followers when Hitler was planning to invade. Since then has only appeared alone.

Fright factor: 4.

The White Lady of Longnor

Haunt: On or near the road bridge near the village. She had thrown herself from the old bridge into the swirling waters below after being jilted at the altar.

Appearance: One of Shropshire’s most famous ghosts, she is dressed in her long, white wedding dress.

Modus operandi: Stares forlornly at the waters as they flow away beneath her feet. Some accounts claim that she will drift eerily through the parapet of the bridge to fall slowly into the stream and fade gently from view. Another says she attends village dances and parties.

Fright factor: 7.

Spooky goings-on in Shropshire, which is claimed to be one of the most haunted counties
Spooky goings-on in Shropshire, which is claimed to be one of the most haunted counties

Bloundie Jack

Haunt: Shrewsbury Castle, where this 14th century serial killer was hanged from the castle walls.

Appearance: Tall and muscular.

Modus operandi: Shambles around the courtyard staring around him with fear and hate. Other descriptions have him dragging a girl by her hair across the courtyard. Exudes an unpleasant aura.

Fright factor: 9.

The Ironbridge Death Boat

Haunt: The River Severn at Ironbridge.

Appearance: A boat, drifting slowly down the river. At first there seems little unusual about this large, open, boat. Only as it comes closer do those peering down on it from the Iron Bridge see that it is piled high with human corpses?

Modus operandi: Almost as soon as the grisly cargo is seen for what it is, the boat seems to shiver, then fade rapidly from view. It is thought that the phantom boat and its grim contents date to the last outbreak of plague in Shropshire in the 1660s.

Fright factor: 8.

The Schoolgirl Spook

Haunt: Knowbury, around the village school (now closed), but never in it.

Appearance: Aged about 11 and wears a white pinafore dress with full sleeves and, according to some, lacy cuffs and collar.

Modus operandi: Usually seen walking slowly or standing quietly at various spots near the school and the village church. In the 1950s an outbreak of poltergeist activity in a house in the village was blamed on her.

Fright factor: 4.

* These and other ghosts appear in Rupert Matthews’ book Haunted Places of Shropshire, published by Countryside Books.

Comments for: "Shropshire – a haunted haven"

Katherine deGama

Yikes! Does anyone know stories about Wyle Cop? I know about the Nags.

merc

I know about the Nags Head ghost but I don't believe that the painting on the door {which I have seen} allegedly by a WW2 prisoner is tied in with it. The landlord showed a few of us around once and I experienced an extreme ambient temperature drop in a matter of minutes in the roof of the building in the height of summer, the rational explanation for which I would be very interested to hear.

Katherine deGama

The tale is that if you see the picture you will be dead within a year. I'm too cowardly to have a look.

Yes, I've heard stories of Barracks Passage.

Juliet Chilton thinks she has a ghost in her shop.

spencer

Russ ( the landlord ) showed it me about 15 years ago , and as far as i'm aware i wasn't dead within a year..

Buskerman

@ spencer.

"as far as I'm aware I wasn't dead within a year" Spencer, have you seen Bruce Willis, Sixth Sence?

I'd check if I were you.

"I see dead people!"

Iron Flag

Barracks passage off upper wyle cop has a tale attached to it. Not seen anything myself, Frankwell on the other hand....

Katherine deGama

Please tell us about Frankwell. Intrigued.

Two Tone

It's an area of Shrewsbury!

Katherine deGama

I was hoping it was an aura of S'bury.

merc

Katherine, you probably know that there are loads of ghost vids on Youtube for your viewing entertainment. Some more convincing than others. Also there are several local books on our local Shropshire ghosties in Waterstones. I'm in one of them.

Katherine deGama

Here's a story my might enjoy. When my dad was a policeman in Gloucestershire he was driving a patrol car through a village reputed to be the most haunted in the country at midnight. He turned on the louspeaker and tapped the rhymn of hoofbeats. The next day the local paper carried a front page story about Cromwell's headless horseman!

Nistagmus

Is this the start of a 'Shropshire Ghosts Top Trumps' set ?

I do hope so.

Shropshire Tourist Board, get on this please.

I want 50% mind you, for the idea

Katherine deGama

Interesting that most ghosts haunt pubs and hotels!

Vamperic

Back at the turn of the 19th to 20th century when the craze for ghost hunting and parlour room mediums were at its height it was seen as a good crowd puller to have a ghost on your premises.

If there was already a ghost there it got promoted if you didn't have a ghost then maybe one would appear.

Katherine deGama

My last comment as I have embodied family visiting for the weekend. Real or imagined my favourite local haunting (and haunt!) is at the Nag's Head. So many customers have a tale to tell. I thought you would be dead within a year if you saw the picture but others say you would go mad.

spencer

I think it was the madness thing with me..

Katherine deGama

Or maybe the real ale...