Spent Boxing Day night in the historic Madeley Court Mercure, site of a 16th century monastery, where we had spent a similarly sleepless night the previous Christmas. We had no excuse for this as we were acutely aware of its reputation of one of the most haunted hotels UK. But we got a good deal and it’s very pretty!
We were disappointed to find that all the good rooms (and by that I mean the haunted ones in the main building) had been taken by a coach party. On the upside, as we had decided to eat on site for extra boozing opportunities, they would be able to provide a Christmas (Russ Abbott?) party atmosphere. This would surely be preferable to the previous year when we had dined alone in the silence of the monastic hall.
Our fellow party goers were white of hair but doing a good job on the hubbub front in the restaurant so we were sad to be ushered into the adjacent Priors’ room, where we over-ate alone again. As the hotel had over-catered for the group, dinner came with a bonus unordered round of roast potatoes. 3 courses were included for our £15 and we were persuaded to go for a totally unnecessary cheese board. Each.
As the many rounds of brie arrived, the hubbub emanating from the room next door waned, to be replaced with several rounds of near silent, but also impossible to ignore, bingo. Party on people. We struggled manfully through the mounds of whey and staggered into the only other available seated area, the lobby, to escape the caller’s “7 and 3 …….73!”.
Silence hung heavily in the air as we sat in front of the teenage receptionist 3 feet to our right.
Enlisted husband’s help to hijack the juke box sitting quietly behind us, and with a little phone wizardry we invited Mariah, Frank and Leona to the party. The night ended with the arrival of a paramedic, one member of the coach party having clearly partied a bit too hard. Or had they seen something? All talk, as the last group members standing drifted to their rooms, was of the other hotel residents, the ghosts.
The ghosts of christmas past
Reading some online reviews on spooky websites before bed (not the wisest of moves), we discovered that four varieties of spectre were available. A table-shifting poltergeist in the Mill (opposite our room), Victorian maids in the attic, a half man who sits on the end of your bed in room 11 and a faceless hooded monk who drifts around the grounds.
We set off for a midnight stroll through the very Scooby -Doo mists, peeking into the poltergeist’s function room (the furniture was disappointingly stationary), and wandering over the monk-free grass.
Our room stood apart from the main building and boasted some original stone walls. This made haunting all the more likely in my book. The window opened directly on to the lawn at head (less?) height. I closed it just in case glass proves tricky for the undead.
Bumps in the night?
Self-spooking every time I woke in the night, I refused to open my eyes for fear of a grey face looming out of the darkness. Loo trips involved entering a wire-glassed vestibule area, chilled by the icy winds seeping through the original oak door. These were spine-chilling but possibly only physically.
In the end the only shadowy figure was the photo of ghost hunting husband skulking in front of the foggy mill.
The cold light of day
Fortified in our bravery in our haunted hotels experience by the equally cold light of day, we checked out the wooden oak spiral staircase behind the lobby, peered behind creaky doors into cellars, and roamed the higgledy piggledy corridors looking for room 11, which although sign posted, did not appear on any doors. Had it had been spirited away? No, the receptionist told us, if you are looking for ghostly fun – check into “The Gables” on the first floor. Disappointingly, she herself had not witnessed any apparitions.
Most haunted hotel in Britain? Jury still out. Room 11 next time? Maybe. If the coach party doesn’t beat us to it.
Pin this post:
Follow holidaysfromhels on: