ANDREW HOMER takes us on a spooky visit to Shropshire’s ghostly hotspot, The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow
For the sheer number of reported apparitions, the market town of Ludlow in Shropshire has to be one of the most haunted places in Britain. Even so, one building stands out for its ghostly activity and architectural splendour and that is The Feathers Hotel in the Bull Ring.
History of the Feathers Hotel, Ludlow
The building is featured in Pevsner’s Architectural Guide to Shropshire, and justifiably so for its superb timber façade and Jacobean furnishings. Local attorney, Rees Jones, was responsible for the construction of the timber façade in 1619.
The hotel name derives from the Prince of Wales Feathers carved into the gables of the façade. Prince Charles, later the ill-fated King Charles I, had been created Prince of Wales in 1616 and the heraldic motif was, and still is, three white ostrich feathers. Ludlow was fiercely Royalist during the English Civil War and Rees Jones’s son Thomas was a Royalist captain. It was Thomas who turned the building into an inn around 1670. The inn would later become the visually stunning hotel it is today.
The Feathers Hotel is Historic England Grade 1 listed ensuring the preservation of both the exterior and interior of this magnificent building.
Hauntings at the Feathers Hotel
The Feathers has a well-known reputation for being haunted both inside and outside of the hotel. On a number of occasions, an apparition has been seen crossing the road from the direction of The Bull Hotel (also haunted) opposite.
In the 1970s a Mr Ainsley got far more than he was expecting when he arrived late for a business meeting in The Feathers.
Relieved to see a parking space right outside the hotel, he dashed inside only to realize he had left his briefcase in the car. On returning to his vehicle, he was greeted by the sight of a young lady in a miniskirt crossing the road towards him. He described her as half walking and half gliding which was strange enough but when she reached the businessman’s car she passed straight through as if it wasn’t there.
On reaching the pavement she promptly disappeared. In something of a state of shock by now, Ainsley sought solace in the bar. Realising that he must have witnessed the phantom girl, the barman gave the businessman a stiff drink on the house to calm his nerves. Apparently, she had been seen crossing the road on several occasions that same year.
In an intriguing twist to this story a local paranormal investigator came up with the theory that the girl was in fact the ghost of a lady still living at the time in Birmingham. She apparently used to enjoy going to The Feathers in her teens and often thought about it. As unlikely as it may seem, apparitions of living people whilst rare are not entirely unheard of, and there have been some convincing reports over the years.
Other ghosts have been experienced by both staff and guests within the hotel itself. A gentleman in Victorian or Edwardian style dress accompanied by his faithful dog strides purposefully between Room 232 and 233. The lack of a door between the present-day bedrooms is no barrier as he passes straight through the dividing wall before disappearing. He appears to be very benign but not so the jealous female presence in Room 211.
Although never seen, she is known to take a particular dislike to female guests. One unfortunate young lady had her hair pulled so violently she was almost dragged out of bed. Having eventually got back to sleep she awoke to find herself drenched in water. Her partner on the other hand was perfectly dry and had enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep. Indeed, if she takes a fancy to them gentlemen staying in Room 211 are likely to experience their cheeks being gently caressed by ghostly fingers as they drop off to sleep.
Whilst doing the research for Haunted Hostelries of Shropshire I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Sylvia Silk who experienced at first-hand the unfriendly spirit in Room 211. In Sylvia’s own words:
“Our first overnight stop was at The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow. I was chatting with our tour guide Val on the coach enroute to Ludlow about the hotel when she told me about her paranormal experience when her last group stayed there. Val told me that the room she stayed in made her feel very uneasy in spite of its beautiful décor and the four-poster bed, and that she did not get any sleep the whole time she was there.
“When I checked into my room before dinner, I decided to make myself a cup of tea. The electric kettle had a very short cord and had been placed in a very awkward place to reach. I tried to remove the cord so that I could put some water in the kettle, but it was stuck, and I could not reach the electrical socket as it was located behind a heavy piece of furniture. Desperate for a hot drink as it was freezing outside, I poured water into the kettle using a teacup.
“When I retired to my room later that night, I started to feel a sense of foreboding. Memories of my conversation with Val about her last experience were firmly planted in my mind making me feel worse. Then I decided I was being silly and tried to brush off the feeling as I got ready for bed.
“While I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, I heard a loud noise like something had snapped. I went into the bedroom to investigate the source of the sound to find that the electrical cord of the kettle had been flung across the room and was lying on the floor next to my bed. I immediately turned on the television and kept both the bedroom and bathroom lights on all night as the sense of foreboding intensified. Needless to say, I did not get a wink of sleep after that experience and was so relieved when we checked out of the hotel the following morning.“
Guests should also be prepared for the very real possibility of other ghostly experiences whilst staying at The Feathers Hotel. The sounds of children running along the upstairs corridors clapping and playing are sometimes heard. Nothing too strange about that in a family friendly hotel you might think, except that this is in the early hours of the morning when guests are trying to sleep. If anyone is brave enough to go and investigate there is never anybody there.
Have you seen anything strange at the Feathers Hotel in Ludlow? Tell us in the comments section below!