February 24, 2016 — “From ghoulies and ghosties … And long-leggedy beasties … And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!” is a traditional Scottish prayer.
But some people seek out ghosts and ghouls and enjoy the “…things that go bump…”
For them, the series Great British Ghosts is just their cup of tea. For two seasons (20 episodes plus a Hallowe’en special), British television personality Michaela Strachan travelled around Britain, visiting the places with a reputation for being the “most haunted.” Through her travels and interviews with historians, paranormal investigators, locals, authors, psychics and locals, Strachan looks into the stories of ghosts and sightings. Each episode visited several locations.
Part travelogue, part history lesson, Strachan allows the viewer to decide for himself or herself how they feel about each reported haunting.
Season one contained eight episodes.
Episode 1: The Old Church, Golborne Road, West London. Locations visited include the Mermaid Inn — renamed the Earl of Portobello — which was a tavern used by one of the the most notorious criminal organizations in southeast England from 1735 until 1749. The Hawkhurst Gang, which worked out of the pub, was involved in smuggling, murder and contraband and was rumored to have an extensive network of tunnels throughout South Essex. 5 separate ghosts are rumored to exist in the area. The second location is The Old Church in West London, which is rumored to be the most haunted place in the area — despite being a fashion design house. Hundreds of sightings have been noted at the location.
Episode 2: The New Inn, Gloucester & Chavenage House, Tetbury. The New Inn is not very new after all — it dates from the 14th century and many ghost sightings have been reported. At Chavenage House, an Elizabethan-era manor house, there have been reports of a headless horseman.
Episode 3: Woodchester Mansion & Prestbury Village. The never-finished Woodchester Mansion is believed to be cursed because of 7 deaths that occurred while the structure was being built. Next Strachan goes to visit to Prestbury Village, where 12 ghosts, including a hooded figure, are supposed to exist.
Episode 4: The Red Lion Hotel & Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker. 3 ghosts, one of them a chambermaid, are said to haunt the 15th century Red Lion Hotel. One of the more recent sites visited is Kelvdon Hatch Nuclear Bunker, built during the cold war, which is said to be haunted by numerous ghosts.
Episode 5: The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham & the Viaduct Tavern, London. Hundreds of prisoners were executed at the Galleries of Justice which are over 230 years old. The Viaduct Tavern, which was a gin palace in the Victorian era, used to be located next to 2 prisons. The cellars of the pub are said to house several ghosts.
Episode 6: The Hellfire Caves, West Wycombe & the Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook, Bucks. The Hellfire Caves were built in the 1700s, and the Hellfire Club — supposedly a meeting place for “people of quality ” who wanted to indulge in immoral activities — including black magic — met there. The Ostrich Inn has a reputation through its landlord who, in medieval times, is rumored to have murdered as many as 60 people.
Episode 7: The Black Swan Hotel & a Ghost Tour of Devizes. The 18th century Black Swan Hotel is rumored to have been owned by a highwayman. Devizes has existed since ancient times — its castle dates from 1080. aAmong the places visited in the Devizes tour is a graveyard dating from the British Civil War in which the soldiers were buried upright and are said to grab at the legs of people who walk there.
Episode 8: The Grenadier Pub & the Haunted London Ghost Tour. The Grenadier pub, which used to be a mess hall, is believed to be haunted by a soldier who died in the cellar. Next Strachan takes the world famous London Ghost Tour to see which locations are considered worthy of a ghost hunt.
Season 2 contained 12 episodes.
Episode 1: Berkeley Castle & the George and Pilgrims Hotel. Berkeley Castle is an ancient location, which has housed the same family for more than 900 years; King Edward II died there. The George & Pilgrims Hotel dates from the 1430s and is said to have monks and abbots among its ghosts.
Episode 2: Essex Cottage & Coaching Inn. Essex boasts both a small cottage with bloodied floors and wall-scratching and a haunted coaching inn.
Episode 3: The Lion and Swan & the Pendle Hill Witch Trials. Michaela visits The Lion & Swan coaching inn in Cheshire, which dates as far back as 1496. Then it’s off to Lancashire, where Michaela investigates the Pendle Hill Witch Trials of 1612, where nine women were accused of meeting on the hill to use sorcery to kill 17 local men.
Episode 4: St. Briavels Castle and the New Inn. On the Welsh border, St. Briavels Castle has had more than its share of violence since the 12th century and is said to be filled with ghosts. A tree at the New Inn in Pwllmeyric is said to be the place where a mother and daughter who allegedly practiced witchcraft were hanged.
Episode 5: The Grand Theatre & Pleasure Beach. An audience member is said to have thrown himself off of the balcony after having been rejected by an actress; staff and audience members at the Grand Theater report having seen his ghost. Rides at the Pleasure Beach Amusement park in Blackpool are also said to be haunted; Cloggy, a man who worked at the park, likes to blow in the ears of people riding the Ghost Train and play with their hair.
Episode 6: The Angel Hotel & the Clearwell Caves. Ghost sightings are common at the Angel Hotel in Gloucestershire, which dates back to the 1650s. And in the Clearwell Caves in Coleford, sightings of ghosts have occurred throughout the underground network.
Episode 7: Derby Gaol and Guildhall Tunnels. The mid-18th century Derby Gaol has a reputation for being haunted and the Guildhall Tunnels, whose many uses include providing jail cells, harboring smugglers and containing a WWII bomb shelter, also has its reputation.
Episode 8: Hall I’ Th’ Wood & Smithills Hall. Hall I’ th’ Wood in Bolton is a 16th century manor house whose many ghosts are hidden away in a housing estate. Faces appear in the mirrors at Smithills Hall, now a museum, where staff members have also heard slamming doors and have found glasses that were turned upside down.
Episode 9: The Ram Inn & the Ragged Cot Inn. Two inns in Gloucestershire have spectral reputations. The Ram may date back to the 14th century; the ancient guesthouse is said to be populated by numerous ghosts. And the history of the The Ragged Cot Inn which has existed since the 17th century, includes the story of a former landlord who became a highwayman; when his wife and child tried to dissuade him from robbing a stagecoach, he accidentally pushed them down the stairs to their deaths. He would be tried for their murders and was hanged.
Episode 10: The Four Crosses & Manor House in Black Country. Both the Four Crosses and the Manor House have had years of reports of paranormal activity.
Episode 11: The Feathers Hotel & the Prince Rupert Hotel. The 17th century Feathers Hotel has been frightening guests for centuries. And at The Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury, there is a report that the bed pillows from one of the rooms disappeared — then re-appeared on the other side of the room.
Episode 12: The Sun Inn & Samlesbury Hall. In 1935, a scullery maid named Lizzie Dean committed suicide in the Sun Inn, which has since claimed to be the most haunted pub in Lancashire. Lady Dorothy Southworth, known as the White Lady, roams the house and grounds of Samlesbury Hall in Preston.
Halloween Episode: Carnfield Hall, near the town of Alfreton in Derbyshire, has reported paranormal activity in the form of footsteps and disembodied singing.
Watch Great British Ghosts and decide for yourself.