Where are the Haunted Hotels of County Durham and Northumberland? Who haunts them? What is their history? Here's a look at 10 of them...
Beamish Hall is a country house now converted to a hotel dating from the mid-18th century near the town of Stanley. It is grade II* listed and stands in 24 acres of lands. The original hall was built for the wedding of Isabella de la Leigh and Guiscard de Charron and was occupied by five generations of their family until the 1400. During the Middle Ages, local aristocrats including the Percy family lived there. In 1569 it was forfeit to the crown during the Rising of the North by Thomas Percy and in 1683 was purchased by Timothy Davison, a wealthy Newcastle merchant. His edlest son, William, married Dulcibella, daughter of John Morton rector of Sedgefield and their eldest daughter Mary married Sir Robert Eden, 3rd Baronet of Windlestone Hall. In 1803, after the rebuilding of the hall, Catherine Eden, daughter of Sir John the 4th baronet, married Robert Eden Duncombe Shafto of Whitworth Hall. The Edens continued to extend the property and built a winter garden. In 1949 following the death of Robert Shafto, the property was sold to the National Coal Board, later by the local Council and Beamish Museum now occupies part of the parkland which belonged to the Hall.
Hauntings: there are a variety of different hauntings cited in Beamish Hall. There is the shade of an Edwardian lady in a pink hat who is seen in the Eden Lounge with her pets, a parrot and a cat. Another female spirit was seen by a vet during a charity night, who is believed to have suffocated in a trunk after hiding to avoid a pre-arranged marriage. Finally Mr Shafto himself has been seen around the corridors of the hotel, children are heard playing in the attic and a woman named Charlotte is seen in reception.
The Lord Crewe Arms in the picturesque village of Blanchland has been dated to 1165 and was used by monks from nearby Blanchland Abbey as a hiding place and hidden stairways and stone flagged floors can be seen. The hotel was originally the abbey guest house. It is named for Lord Crewe, the Bishop of Durham and was the hiding place of ‘General’ Tom Forster during the 1715 Jacobite Rising.
Haunting: it is the sister of Tom Forster, Dorothy, who is said to haunt the hotel. It was Dorothy who hid her brother and saved his life, and to thank her (or not) he married her off to the Bishop of Durham. Whether due to the terror of the rebellion or her unhappiness at her marriage, she remains in the building. She is seen by guests in one particular room, wandering by the bed without saying a word.
Lumley Castle is a quadrangular castle dating from the 14th century in Chester le Street, a grade I listed building belonging to the Earl of Scarborough and operated as a hotel. It is named after Sir Ralph Lumley, who altered the family manor house into the castle in 1389 after returning from war in Scotland. The family lost the lands when Sir Ralph was imprisoned and executed for plotting to overthrow Henry IV but his grandson regained it in 1421. By the 19th century, it was the residence of the Bishop of Durham after Bishop Van Mildert gave Durham Castle to the University before passing to the Earl of Scarborough, who still owns the property.
Haunting: the most famous ghost of the castle is Lily Lumley, wife of Sir Ralph. She was thrown down a well on the grounds by two priests for rejecting the Catholic faith but told her husband she had left to be a nun. Even famous cricketers staying there have been spooked by her visitations!
Redworth Hall is 8 miles from Darlington and dates from 1693. It has long been associated with the Crosier and Surtees families with Lord Robert Surtees acquiring the hall in 1744 and remaining in his family until 1955. It has retained many original features such as the Baronial Great Hall and an elaborate spiral staircase. It is now a four star hotel, spa and wedding venue.
Hauntings: the ghost of a small child has been seen walking through the corridors of the hotel as well as appearing in digital photos taken inside. Numerous visitors have reported being woken at night hearing a child screaming and others have reported the feeling that someone was jumping on their bed. Rooms 7 and 14 are the most frequently mentioned in association with strange events.
The estate of Whitworth dates from 1183 and was owned by the Lords of Whitworth until 1652 when it was sold to a Mark Shafto, a lawyer from Newcastle. Twelve generations of the Shafto family lived there, including Bonnie Bobby Shafto of the famous ballad. The Hall was large destroyed by fire in 1876 and the restaurant, at the time the library, is the oldest remaining part. It was converted into a hotel in 1997.
Haunting: most of the reported hauntings focus on the restaurant, unsurprising as it is the remaining original part of the hall. A man has been seen sitting at a table when no-one was meant to be there and books would fling themselves from shelves, even hitting guests. The hallway leading to the restaurant is also noted for inexplicably cold. There is also mention of Room 6 causing unease to staff and guests.
The Manor House was constructed in the 15th century and was said to be a hunting lodge of Henry VIII before becoming a family home to the Eden family, the Barons Auckland. The seven trees outside the house were planted to commemorate the visit of the king, though only two now remain. It was later converted into an orphanage in 1914 by Reverend Lomax and is now a hotel.
Hauntings: Room 34 has a locked wardrobe which has been reported to open by itself while a guest has reported being grabbed by the throat by a man wearing clothing like a monk. Room 18 has reports of people being pushed around while a séance in the Knight’s Hall resulted in a child’s voice being heard on a walkie talkie.
The Schooner Hotel started life in the 17th century as a coaching inn and has had distinguished guests such as Charles Dickens, Basil Rathbone and even George III when Alnmouth was a busy port, before the storm of 1806 altered the course of the river and reducing its importance. The building is a grade II listed, whitewashed building with black shutters three storeys high. The hotel was used by smugglers where they had a cave in the cellar with a hidden door used to store their imports.
Hauntings: there is a bewildering array of ghosts in the hotel, enough to make it doubtful there are room for any guests! The Poltergeist Society has awarded a special prize to the hotel as the Most Haunted Hotel in Great Britain with other sixty spirits reported. The most commonly mentioned ones are; Room 17 where hands hold people down in bed by their throats; Room 30 where an invisible entity walks around the room while an RAF officer paces the corridors searching for someone to play cards with. Another ghost, called Jonathan, comes from the smugglers times and is said to have killed a man in the hotel, perhaps for betraying him to the authorities. There are also rumours of a murdered family in Room 28 and screams, whispers and other unexplained sounds are heard.
Matfen Hall was the seat of the Blackett baronets and dates from the 19th century. The original manor at West Matfen dates from the 13th century and was owned by Philip de Ulcote. It passed through his sisters and eventually came to John Douglas in 1680 whose grand-daughter married Sir Edward Blackett in 1757 bringing the property to the Blackett family. The present house was built in 1828 by Sir Edward Blackett, 6th Baronet and features a full-height Gothic hall. Sir Hugh Blackett, the 12th baronet, has converted the property to a hotel and country club.
Hauntings: the most famous ghost of the hotel is a blue boy who is seen around the hall crying and moaning in fear, usually around midnight. It was particularly associated with Room 14 and when the noises are heard, a soft halo of light appears around an old four-poster bed in the room. The sounds were traced to a passage cut into a wall and behind the wall was discovered the bones of a boy with fragments of blue clothing. Another ghost is Mary, wife of Philip de Ulcote, who searchers for her husband after he ran off with her sister. She appears broken hearted and the rustle of her dress can be heard on the turret stairs.
Seaham Hall was once owned by George Henry Robert Charles William Vane-Tempest, 5th Marquess of Londonderry, acquired when he married Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, one of the greatest heiress of the time. The family used the hall only sparingly but the poet Lord Byron married Anne Isabella Milbanke in Seaham Hall in 1815 and Benjamin Disraeli visited in 1861. The property became a hospital during World War I and is now a spa hotel.
Haunting: the Grey Lady who walks the cliffs near the hall on stormy nights is said to be Anne Isabella Milbanke, who married Lord Byron in the hall. She only appears when the weather conditions are right.
The Ancient Unicorn started life as a coaching inn dating from the 16th century. The inn was the setting for a poem called the Bowes Tragedy, concerning the daughter of family owning the Unicorn and the son of another family in the other pub in the village. They fell in love but were kept apart when he fell ill and died, only for her to die shortly after and for them to be buried together in the same grave in the local churchyard.
Haunting: the ghosts of the Ancient Unicorn are different characters altogether. An unknown boy of around 12 years of age is seen in the cellar of the building and there have been numerous reports of pranks being played, strange noises and ghostly touches, perhaps associated with the boy. Or perhaps with the bearded man in a bowler hat often seen around the premises…