The faded wonder of a long-gone country manor and a village haunted by a Grey Lady
Legend has it a tiny Shropshire village that was once the home of lords and captains of industry is haunted to this day by the ghost of an elegant woman in pink.
The village of Badger, which sits between Bridgnorth and Albrighton, is a quaint place whose name has its origins not in the furry black-and-white mammal, but in Anglo-Saxon Old English.
The medieval village has remained small throughout its history, its population never rising above 178 in official records.
The pride of the parish was previously Badger Hall, a grand Georgian manor whose interiors were lavishly turned up by the architect James Wyatt for the owner of Shropshire's Old Park Ironworks, Isaac Hawkins Browne.
Browne bought the rights to Badger in 1774 and got to work on the hall, expanding it and surrounding it with landscaped wonders. Later owners of the hall would bolster its reputation as a place of beauty.
Gareth Williams, in his book The Country Houses of Shropshire, says: "Badger, in the late 19th Century, contained one of the most remarkable collections of Renaissance art collected by the Cheney brothers.
"Had it survived intact, it would have been one of the most important treasure houses in Britain."
It was not to be, however, and having changed hands several times as the result of death or sale over the centuries, the hall fell into dereliction and was eventually knocked down in the early 1950s.
But Badger had already come to be associated with the spiritual long before the hall was demolished, according to the research of one 19th Century folklorist.
Teacher and expert in Shropshire folklore Amy Boucher investigates ghost stories that crop up in verbal and written accounts of our county's history, and she learned more about the supposed haunting of Badger in the writings of Charlotte Sophia Burne.
Charlotte S Burne lived in the 19th Century and was a leading recorder of Shropshire folk tales and ghost stories, including in the comprehensive 1883 book Shropshire Folklore: A Sheaf of Gleanings, compiling the stories she heard while investigating the county's rich verbal history.
Amy describes what she has learned about Badger and the ghost that supposedly calls the village home, Burne having recorded a number of reports of a ghostly presence there.
Amy said: "The old hall is gone, but it was once magnificent, a grand Georgian manor which dominated the landscape, almost forgotten now. However, not all its residents are gone.
"The whole area, including the churchyard, is haunted by the enchanting spirit known as the Grey Lady of Badger. This spirit is said to be so stunningly beautiful, and so lifelike witnesses have said they thought she was in fact a real person, not some long dead maiden.
"She is said to have long, golden hair which falls into ringlets way down her back, and a charming, inviting smile. Other times her smile is described as sad - reminiscent even.
"She wears a long dress, loose at the bottom and tight at the top, showing off her figure. It's often described as being a pale pink.
"It is not known who this lady is, or why she wanders still and is such a frequent visitation. However, whilst the hall was being demolished, a sturdy wooden casket was found.
"Inside was found a formidable engagement ring. Did this belong to the Grey Lady? We can only guess, however perhaps she is searching for her love."
Learn more about Amy's research at nearlyknowledgeablehistory.blogspot.com.