Monday, 12 June 2017


Monday 12th June 2017

In a recent conversation with ghost hunter and charity worker, Tracie McMeekin, we were reminded of an intriguing visit that we made, some 15 or so years ago now, to a lovely, historic, architectural 'gem', situated on the outskirts of Wolverhampton City.....  A write-up on the visit concerned had been posted up on our (then) website, but, as frequently happens with such things, the details had basically 'been lost' with time and a change of web page, etc.......

However, incorporating that wonderful, online service - the 'Internet Archive Wayback Machine' - we were recently able to re-discover the details concerned and, with a little tweaking, to bring everything up to date, present the gist of the post here, below, for your perusal.....

"In September, 2002, B.B.C. ‘Midlands Today’ broadcast a news report – ‘The House That Cries’: Sun. Sept. 8th – regarding a peculiar phenomena which is said to have sporadically occurred at what is believe to be by some as Wolverhampton’s oldest (extant) building... Graiseley Old Hall.

While the happenings concerned are not necessarily indicative of actual ghostly / haunting phenomena, they would certainly be construed as 'potentially paranormal in nature' by a great many.  Also, following the news report, certain information came to light which certainly seemed to indicate a form of ‘haunted history’ at least, in bygone days at the building…..

Subsequent contact with the then owner of Graiseley Old Hall - former actress, Miss Susan Williams - resulted in three members of the Ghost Club being invited to pay a visit to the house on September 15th, 2002.

Brief Site History

Graiseley Old Hall itself is believed to have been built in 1485, though signs of a much earlier building have been discovered.  (A wooden tablet in one of the walls of the present building is dated 1377, but this is not thought to be genuine).  During road construction, the remains of an old moat were found surrounding the property.  This is thought to have been dug as a precaution against cattle thieves.

16th Cent. records show that the first owner of Graiseley Old Hall was one Nicholas Rydley, a merchant of the staple of Calais.  The Hall remained with his descendants until the middle of the 17th Cent., when one Walter Rotton was, seemingly, forced to sell the property to William Normansell (one of Oliver Cromwells Justices of the Peace) in order to pay off gambling debts!  (Rotton was apparently a dedicated Cockfighter and Dice Thrower!)

During the Queen Anne period (1702 – 1714), the exterior timberwork of the Hall was replaced with brick.  Today, an example of the original Wattle and Daub structuring can be viewed (from behind a perspex panel) in the Entrance Hall of the house.   Interestingly, just to the right of the aforementioned, sections of medieval fresco paintings can be seen on the original wall timbers of the room. 

Towards the end of the 19th Cent., the hall was occupied by Moses Ironmonger – a former Mayor of the Borough.  A friend of Alexander Graham Bell, Ironmonger installed the first, public telephone line ever established in the district: a link between Graiseley Old Hall and his factory on the corer of Salop and Cock Street!

In 1930, the Hall was purchased by the Royal Wolverhampton School for use as an administration / storage site.  It was discovered that the Hall was not an officially listed building in 1957 and Wolverhampton M.P., Enoch Powell, brought the matter to the attention of the local Government.  As a result, Graiseley Old Hall was given Grade II Star listed status. 

Reported Phenomena(?)

In the 11 years that Miss Williams had occupied the Old Hall (*leading up to 2002), she had noticed that small pools of water had collected in the same spot in the Main Hall on four occasions.  The first three times that this occurred, she neither saw nor heard the water appear, but merely discovered a pool of about the same size that might adequately fill a saucer.  On one of these occasions, food had been laid out in the Hall and the contents of one of the plates was found to be ‘soggy’ with liquid. 

The fourth time that water had appeared was on the last Sunday in August 2002 – the 25th – and, luckily, Miss Williams happened to be in the room at the time.

Graiseley Old Hall was open to the public on the last Sunday of every month and Miss Williams had been taking a couple of visitors round on a tour of the property.  They were standing in the Main Hall, scrutinising an old Tithe Map situated on a long table, when they all became aware of a ‘splashing’ sound.  Looking up, they were surprised to find water dripping rapidly from a point on one of the beams that ran across the Hall ceiling and onto the opposite end of the table to where they were situated.  (The exact same spot in the room where the pools had previously been found).

Miss Williams admits that her immediate reaction was to think that someone had spilled something on the floor of the room above and the liquid was now dripping through the ceiling.  Some people had been staying with her at the time and one of the guests was using the bedroom directly above.  Immediately checking on the situation, Miss Williams found that the guest in question was currently situated in his room, but certainly hadn’t spilled anything on the (uncarpeted) floor.

The guest in question actually accompanied Miss Williams back to the Main Hall, where they found that the water had now stopped dripping.  Upon immediate investigation, the beam was found to be completely dry at the point where the liquid had originated.  (And along the rest of it’s length). 

When asked if she thought that these episodes were possibly paranormal in origin, Miss Williams told us that she didn’t really know.  She did, however, approach a local psychic concerning this matter – a representative of the person concerned appearing in the ‘Midlands Today’ feature – though they appeared fairly non-committal in their comments on the subject.  (Most peculiar for a psychic, we thought?)

Of considerable interest was the fact that Miss Williams received a letter from a local resident following the news broadcast of Sept. 8th.  The note mentioned that, around 40 years earlier, the family then residing at Graiseley Old Hall had actually suffered an outbreak of what they believed was ‘Poltergeist’ activity.  The family concerned was that of the Rev. Pearce – Chaplain of the Royal Wolverhampton School.

Unfortunately, little was known of the actual nature of the phenomenon concerned, save for the fact that activity had only started when the Reverend’s children had reached their teens and only occurred when they were present….. 

Observations

The oak beam from which the water has been known to drip has certainly bowed (sagged) towards it’s middle to a fair degree over the centuries.  However, the lowest point of this bow effect does not seem to correspond with the point at which the water originates.  Unless there is some form of optical illusion being created by subsidence within the structure of the room itself, the point where the water originates is over a foot distant from the lowest point of the bend.

The water itself was described as only ‘dripping’ – but rapidly and the duration of the event itself was relatively brief.  (A matter of a few minutes maximum).  ‘Condensation’ and ‘Damp’ – as some have suggested as a reason for the effect – certainly would not seem to account for this activity?  The volume of water that would need to collect on the surface of the beam before such an effect could manifest would be considerable, and therefore quite visible, and would surely not be able to 'collect' in the volume concerned, before dripping from the point on the beam?  Also, the ceiling of the room is constructed from a number of such beams, so why should only one of these attract condensation, in this way, a mere 4 times in over a decade?

The Hall itself does suffer with damp in places, but certainly nowhere near the levels needed to create such an event; and certainly not so in the Main Hall or the bedroom above.  It is a rare form of condensation / damp which manifests openly for a few minutes, then retreats leaving a formerly dripping surface bone dry?

A couple of W.M.G.C. members suggested (a) a possible hollow of channel running through the beam (which might store, then release liquid sporadically), or (b) some form of potential liquid source from ‘underneath’ the floorboards of the bedroom above, releasing water via seepage through the ceiling below.

With regards to both suggestions, the fact that this had only occurred 4 times in 11 years sounds rather unlikely(?)  The former idea may account for the same amount of water being released each time, but, again, the duration between each episode is puzzling.  The question of ‘seepage’ is also unlikely, as there were no visible damp patches to be seen on the ceiling of the Main Hall....?"  

As mentioned at the beginning of this entry, we should just like to remind visitors that the aforementioned, Tracie McMeekin, is the founder of a Walsall-based, 'homeless charity' called 'Hands To The Homeless' which carries out crucial work in the West Midlands region in supporting destitute and / or needy individuals and families.  Anyone wishing to help out in any way with this stirling work is urged to contact Tracie at:  supermcmeekin@aol.com  The Facebook page for H.T.T.H. - a 'sales page' for raising funds for the charity, full of bargain, quality items - can be found HERE

Sunday, 11 June 2017


Sunday 11th June 2017 

Just a small post, in the form of an appeal for information.  As regulars to W.M.G.C. related pages will know, we have always shown a special interest in the area known as Great Barr, which generally falls into the cross over point of the Walsall / Birmingham / Sutton Coldfield borderlands....  As we have mentioned numerous times in the past - including a lot of related data on this blog (please use the search box for details) - we do tend to be seen to take 'extra' interest in this specific region, as it appears, through unrelated / individual reports and data to just be 'one of those areas' that, somehow, generates a considerable wealth of ghostlore and peculiar experiences over time.....!?   

In this recent instance, we have been speaking with a good friend of the group who told us that a relative of theirs and their partner - living in Great Barr - had recently been woken up, approx. 2 a.m., when they both heard a 'thrumming' noise, high up like a dozen planes going over, followed by a long, distant, whistling sound.... and then a "crump" sound!?  

Needless to say, the description appears very much like what we, today, would recognise as an 'air raid' scenario, from years gone by!  The male of the couple concerned says that he heard exactly the same thing in 1994 too. It most definitely wasn't a noise generated by something like fireworks, as he is ex military and knows the sounds concerned.

Needless to say, it would be MOST interesting for all concerned if anyone had any similar stories, experiences or knowledge on this kind of effect in that general area, or roundabouts!?  As always, please feel free to contact us via the 'comments' option on this page, or privately through our email address above.....

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Wednesday 24th May 2017

As mentioned in our previous post, one of the members of our Facebook page - Alan Wheatley, a former neighbour of mine, from when I was a very young lad - made an interesting post about a strange experience he'd had, on a boating break, with his family, around 35 (approx.) years ago......  He tells us:  

"You may remember that I and my parents came across you on a canal boat in Shropshire..... well earlier that day we had left Market Drayton, heading back to Wolverhampton.  As anyone familiar with that stretch of canal will know, there is a long, very deep, narrow cutting about a mile long... dead straight, save for a slight dog-leg, half-way along, spanned by a high brick bridge.  As we approached the bridge, a small cruiser was coming the other way, so I slowed down to let him through, but was surprised when he stopped and pulled into the side out of my view behind the bridge.  As I passed through, I prepared to thank him, but was astonished to see that there was no boat there!  He couldn't possibly have turned round and, even if he could, I would have seen him in front of me!?  It wasn't me seeing things, because my mother saw it as well. To this day, I still can't come up with an explanation......?"

While we had no similar experiences logged (in our own files) from that particular stretch of water, we had mentioned, at the time that the subject was broached, that Alan's story reminded us very much of a couple of other encounters, from other regions, that had been reported to us, over time....  One instance concerned a vessel 'vanishing' in front of numerous occupants on a 'tour boat', on the Birmingham canals system, and - in a site that we have personally investigated - 'ghost boats' have allegedly been experienced in the Lord Wards tunnel network in Dudley, in the Black Country, too!  

While the canal networks of this fine country aren't immediately something you tend to think of when musing over the subjects of ghosts and hauntings, it certainly seems that the lifestyle / subject does indeed have a strong 'ghostlore' all of it's own!

As mentioned in our previous post, the stretch of canal mentioned by Alan in his account is, it seems, particularly noted for it's ghosts and peculiar feel.  (*Related articles HERE and HERE)  However, it's certainly not just this stretch of Midlands canal that hold such a reputation.... and related, 'spooky tales' continue across the waterways map!  We have, in the past, mentioned a number of strange stories associated with our canals; one particular 'stretch' - situated in my childhood / early adulthood neighbourhood - has no less that 5 different, allegedly haunted, spots within the space of two miles alone!!

Wednesday May 24th 2017

In a recent conversation on the W.M.G.C. Facebook page, we were greatly interested to see one of our members, Alan Wheatley, relating a story concerning a family outing on the Shropshire Union Canal some decades past.  The spot in question was a section of the waterway not far from Market Drayton in Shropshire... a stretch of canal that is seemingly noted (in numerous sources, it seems?) as having something of an 'eerie feel' to it!? 

While we will post Alan's initial story (mentioned above) in a separate post, we will, for the moment, focus on something mentioned in the subsequent 'comments' on the topic concerned.  Alan had happened to mention a specific matter that we'd never heard of before.... though the details concerned certainly brought to mind another topic that we were all-too-familiar with!  The comment included the most intriguing line:

"I know lots of the old working boatmen used to claim that Betton Wood had a shrieking ghost and would not moor there over night....."

On seeing this reference, we were instantly reminded of the classic story, 'A Neighbour's Landmark', by the late, great, ghost story writer, M.R. James.... in which the focus of the tale is a 'shrieking ghost' that haunts a region formerly occupied by an area of woodland called 'Betton Wood'! As mentioned, we had never heard of the real-life matter mentioned by Alan previously, but, on checking further, it seems that the association had certainly not been lost on Jamesian scholars, the information being reported on in a number of online sources.....!

A further reference, supplied by Alan, was taken from L.T.C Rolt's famous book, 'Narrow Boat':

"The name Betton Wood seemed vaguely familiar, but it was not until we reached Betton Wood, where the trees, pressing close, made a darkness about us and the water was unruffled by the wind which tossed their branches, that I recalled the association in the line: 'Than that which walks in Betton Wood knows why it walks or why it cries'. Connoisseurs of the ghost story will doubtless have read 'A Neighbours Landmark by the immortal M.R James, and so remember Betton Wood where walked the shrieking ghost having 'no language but a cry'"

As can (and most definitely 'does', of course) frequently occur, did the real-life haunting influence James' writing, perhaps.... or is the entire case just a matter of sheer coincidence!?!  Maybe - we cannot be sure now, needless to say - James' story actually influenced the 'lore of the canals', thereabouts, possibly?  This sort of thing has certainly happened before, to our knowledge: there is a real-life story, for example, of a haunting in the Wolverhampton area - from the mid-1800's - that ties in VERY closely indeed with another of James' tales.... so was he in the habit of taking references from the popular news for his stories, maybe?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


Tuesday May 16th 2017

As always - especially with the subject matter concerned - we were very excited to receive yet another account of a potential sighting of the apparition known as 'Madam Piggott', from the Newport region of Shropshire, within the last couple of days.   As many of our more regular visitors to W.M.G.C. related pages - blog, former website / forum, etc - would know, this particular case has been a KEY passion of ours, since group member Steve Chew first drew our interest to the matter 12 or so years back.......

In this new 'encounter' - which only occurred early this month - a lone, male motorist was travelling along a country road, when a dark-dressed figure 'shot' across the, otherwise empty, thoroughfare some distance in front of his vehicle.....  As the gentleman concerned pointed out to us in his introductory note, the appearance of the figure doesn't exactly, immediately tie-in with the more traditional descriptions of the infamous 'madam'; the site of the occurrence is a little way removed from the usual region in which 'she' is reported, and the figure he saw was 'dark' in appearance, where M.P. is usually described as dressed in light / white period costume..... 

Having said the latter, however, having collected MANY stories from that general region, we've come to see that there really doesn't seem to be a 'typical', specific area / appearance / type for activity in the region concerned....!?  Many of the reported sightings do involve a female figure, but, even then, descriptions and locations almost never tally!?

Monday, 3 April 2017


Monday April 3rd 2017

Briefly re-visiting a blog post from 2009:  We have - within the last couple of days - discovered a couple of accounts that involve the stretch of Moxley canal (mentioned in the 2009 piece).

Some years ago, I was told by a local folklorist that a woman had supposedly drowned - somewhere down near 'Wards Bridge' - in the canal, in the Victorian period..... Unfortunately, despite having checked at the time, I could never find any such account!?  Ironically, however, I NOW find TWO separate incidents for the same stretch of canal - purely by accident - in one research sitting!!

The first instance occurred around the mid-1800's, when a man, dragging the canal for lumps of coal, was horrified to discover he had, instead, hooked the body of a woman!!  Sadly, no names were mentioned in the brief, newspaper account, though it was reported that her body was taken to the nearest public house for an inquest.....

In the second incident, in the latter half of the Victorian period, a woman by the name of Bunn was - unfortunately - thrown from a canal boat she was working on.... and became trapped between the boat and the 'kerb stones' bordering the canal itself!!  She was said to have been tightly 'wedged' there for some 15 minutes before finally expiring and despite the efforts of a local chemist who had been called to the accident site to try and help.....

Now, I must admit that I'm not a big believer in the popular notion of 'tragedy = ghost', but - being truly objective in such matters and accepting that a lot of people do - I guess the aforementioned incidents could well account for a 'ghostly woman' or two in that general area......?

The aforementioned blog article - entitled 'The Darlaston Poltergeist' - can be read 'HERE'.

Friday, 3 March 2017


Friday 3rd March 2017

We've recently received a note from author, Andy Gilbert, telling us of his new publication, entitled: 'Credible Witness - Paranormal Police Stories'.....

The 100 page book is a "collection of compelling accounts from members of the police family who have witnessed or have intimate knowledge of unexplained incidents....  When the world of policing and the paranormal collide, even the most hardened sceptic might have to think again...."

Not only does this sound an absolutely fascinating book, but Andy tells us that all of the royalties from the publication are being donated to a charity in Burntwood (South Staffordshire) supporting adults with learning disabilities (COGS).

Copies of 'Credible Witness' are priced at £5.99 each and are available through Amazon at this LINK