Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Haunting of Red Hill, Warwickshire

The little village of Red Hill is well named. It stands on the summit of a steep hill where the main road from Worcester to Stratford upon Avon, the A46, crosses from the valley of the Stour to that of the Arrow. This was once a Roman road heading northwest to the wild lands of the Orodvici tribe.

Right on the summit of the hill is the Stag Inn, an ancient building that has stood here for longer than anyone can remember. Certainly parts of the building date to the 16th century, but it is likely that an inn stood here for many generations before that. By 1650 this inn doubled up as the local court and gaol. The old door to the cell, studded with ironworks to make it more secure, is preserved in the bar. The actual courthouse and cell have long since been amalgamated into the pub itself and are today occupied by a small dining area and the ladies toilets. It is this area that sees most of the phantom activity.

The ghost is that of an elderly woman, dressed in dark or black clothes. Whether she wears a coat, cloak or long dress is not quite clear as witnesses differ in opinion. However, all agree that she is fairly short and seems to be looking for something. Even those who do not see the ghost will suddenly feel rather uncomfortable. Ladies using the toilets report that they suddenly feel as if somebody is watching them, which must be somewhat unnerving. Generally, however, the ghostly woman does not cause any upset and certainly does nothing to halt the enjoyment of the splendid meals and welcoming hospitality of this ancient inn.

It is thought that the ghostly woman may be linked to one of the executions that took place at the crossroads just east of the Stag Inn. It was here that any criminals sentenced to death at the court were taken to be hanged from a large oak tree. The bodies were left dangling for days to warn any would-be miscreants of the summary and stern nature of Warwickshire justice. The ghost, or one very like her, has been seen here on rare occasions. One story claims that a man was executed here for highway robbery and that his distraught mother sat beneath the fatal tree until the magistrate finally gave her permission to take the body away for a decent burial, only for the woman to die a few days later.

from the book HAUNTED WARWICKSHRE by Rupert Matthews

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