Ragley Hall

Two separate tales of haunting are told of Ragley Hall, in the parish of Arrow, and its park. First, as reported by J. Harvey Bloom c.1930, there is the claim that a White Lady may appear occasionally at midnight and sit upon a certain stile, after which she goes down to a brook to drink. This rather vague tradition incorporates two commonplaces of ghost lore: the association of White Ladies with water, and of apparitions with stiles or gates. It is now impossible to tell whether the story did or did not pre-date the discovery in 1833 of a woman’s skeleton unearthed nearby, which was assigned to the Anglo-Saxon period by its brooches and dagger. However, the link is now firmly established in local tradition.

Then there is the tale of a duel and its outcome, as told by a local man to Alan Burgess in the 1940s:

A black man and a white man had a duel up at the Hall. The white man was waiting in a room for the darkie, and when the darkie came in through the door, he said, ‘I thought we were supposed to fight this duel alone?’ And as the darkie turned to see who had come in with him, the white man shot him dead. They do say the blood’s still on the wall, but I ain’t been up there lately to see.

It is possible that this is a confused memory of an actual duel fought here in 1699 between the then owner, Popham Seymore-Conway, and a Colonel Kirk, in which the former was killed, but if so, why one of the combatants has been turned into a black man in the telling remains unexplained.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008