Ian Weightman

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Staffordshire's "Most Haunted"?

Shugborough, in Staffordshire, takes its name from “Shug” and “Barrow: the place of the impish devil!

And with so many people living on, and passing through, the estate over centuries it’s no wonder that ‘things that go bump in the night’ are a frequent occurrence on the estate.

The cold chill of the State Bedroom is one of the things many visitors remark on today, for example.  It’s a room said to be haunted by Lady Harriet – a theory backed-up by the fact that there’s an imprint of a body on the bedclothes every morning.

Elsewhere, a corridor in the Lichfield Suite at one time led to the nursery.  Here, staff have frequently reported sniggering children playing a game of “knock-and-run”.  A painter once working here felt his ladders being rattled by giggling children - and left the job, refusing to come back to complete his work.

Several years ago, Shugborough held the first exhibition of Patrick Lichfield’s work since he died in 2005.  As the last of the guests left, and management and staff started to celebrate the success of the event, a bottle of champagne - unopened and still sealed with its wire and foil - popped, sending a shower of champagne all over everyone in the entrance hall.

With an estate the size of Shugborough, and with a workforce of well over 100 in its heyday, the mansion house isn’t the only place to boast a ghost or two.  The farm has a whole collection of its own…

A lady in a brown dress is known to sit in the corner of the parlour, and a photograph taken by a member of staff not so long ago shows candles in this room with flames blowing all at different angles (including horizontally) – as well as three orbs in the room.

A member of staff lives with her family in the farmhouse, and they report that some evenings it feels like a party going on with constant chatter around the house.  There have also been regular reports of muttering and doors opening and closing for no reason.  There are also ghosts within the farm mill block, where a gentleman is sometimes seen and occasionally a baby crying is heard.

The County Museum at Shugborough, meanwhile, is home to the caretaker, receptionist and their family.  When their youngest daughter was poorly, the receptionist walked into the bedroom to find a ghostly servant lady dressed in dark colours, sitting at the end of her daughter’s bed.  After a few days, the young girl started to get better and the receptionist walked in to find the ghostly servant once again sitting on the bed - only this time smiling contentedly.  She never saw her again…until some time later when she was looking through a book of old pictures of Shugborough servants.  Amongst the servants captured on early film, she immediately recognised the ghostly lady who had nursed her daughter back to health.

While visitors to Shugborough may be aware that staff and volunteers often wear period costumes, a few years ago a group complained about a rude and insolent member of staff who had ignored them and swept past them in the Exhibition Room.  She was described as a lady in a red riding habit.  But the Shugborough Estate has never had anyone dress in this manner.  And, as the Exhibition Room was part of the old stables, the general conclusion is that it was probably a ghost who needed to brush up on her customer service skills…

Not surprisingly, the popular Staffordshire estate celebrates its ghostly goings on every year with a Halloween Spooktacular.  Find all the details here

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