Released: July 2015
Publisher: Bradwell Books
Size: 180 x 110mm
From houses, castles and churches to the counties towns and countryside, this 80 page paperback is packed full of paranormal tales that will leave Warwickshire’s residents and visitors questioning whether they should be turning the light off at night!
Warwickshire is in the heart of England, a beautiful and historic county, well blessed with handsome old towns and pretty villages. It boasts two of the UK’s most impressive castles and a wealth of medieval houses and pubs, indicators of Warwickshire’s early prosperity.
It is a county of gentle, undulating countryside, with lush meadows watered by the rivers Avon, Stour, Bourne and Itchen. The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty extends into the southern part of the county. For centuries Warwickshire was largely covered in woodland, including the extensive Forest of Arden, whose name still crops up in many place names. Most of these trees were cut down to fuel the Industrial Revolution.
The Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare is, of course, Warwickshire’s most famous son, and he makes several references to the Forest of Arden in his works. Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace and long-time home, has capitalised on this connection since the 18th century. It has been the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1961, although his plays had regularly been performed in the town’s theatre since the late 19th century. Warwickshire is still sometimes known as ‘Shakespeare Land’. There are numerous other connections, including at Charlecote Park, one of Warwickshire’s many grand houses, where the young Shakespeare was reputedly caught poaching deer.
Nor is William Shakespeare Warwickshire’s only literary connection. The Victorian writer George Eliot was born in Nuneaton and used the town as a model for provincial life in several of her novels, while First World War poet Rupert Brooke was born in Rugby.
Perhaps there is something in the Warwickshire air, for its residents seem to have always loved telling stories. The favourite fireside tales of the county’s rural folk appear to have been ghost stories. If all these tales, and the first-hand accounts of modern witnesses, are to be believed, Warwickshire is a fearfully haunted county.
In such a historic county, this should perhaps come as no surprise. In Warwickshire was fought the first battle of the English Civil War, at Edge Hill, and the resonances of that fateful day still echo down the years. The old battleground is said to be haunted by spectral cavaliers. Other historical haunters include Lady Jane Grey and her father; Prince Rupert of the Rhine; St Editha, daughter of the Saxon King Egbert; and Piers Gaveston, favourite of King Edward II. Many more of its ghosts are of the local lords and ladies of past centuries. In addition, there are the more humble spooks: monks and nuns, maidservants, soldiers, clergymen, and even dogs.
The stories behind these hauntings can be fascinating, featuring as they do tragedies such as doomed romances and untimely deaths. Some of the personalities involved have such strength of character, it’s no wonder memories of them have survived beyond the grave. Many lived lives of high drama or excess; some were killers, others victims. A few seem content to quietly haunt the places where they were once happiest.
We hope you enjoy this tour of one of England’s most beautiful and most haunted counties.