Ilam Hall, ‘one of my most haunted places’


Ilam Hall in Derbyshire has a spooky past. PATSY SORENTI tells us about the haunting goings on, including her own experience, at the ancient stately home

Ilam Hall in Derbyshire
Ilam Hall in Derbyshire

Ilam Hall is a former stately home on the banks of the River Manifold in the Dovedale Valley near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

It dates from the early 16th century and belonged to the Port family until 1930 when it became so dilapidated that it was earmarked for demolition. Happily, the new Youth Hosteling Association purchased the property and it remains a youth hostel to this day.

Many stories of ghosts and strange happenings had been current in the neighbourhood of Ilam Hall for many years. Tales of ghosts in the house and park both scared and thrilled the locals.

Our trip to Ilam Hall

In January 2004, a group of ghost hunters which included myself, spent a night in Ilam Hall.

We split the group into sections to carry out vigils in various parts of the place.

Upon arriving at 7pm, I visited the ladies bathroom on the first floor.

I immediately heard footsteps near the sinks.

When I checked I discovered I was alone in the room. Later during the vigil in the Manifold Room, coat hangers inside a cupboard began moving furiously by themselves.

During a break when everyone was indoors, furious banging on the outside door was heard by everyone present.

A ‘grey lady’ was seen to glide across the ground floor verandah outside the Manifold Room and a door slammed shut on the deserted first floor corridor where the ghostly footsteps had earlier been heard.

This place was one of the most haunted places I have ever come across.

By far the most active room was the Manifold Room, where youth parties had experienced the ghost of a young man who enters the room in the early hours of the morning; certainly our experiences there would bear this out.

Phantom footsteps and slamming of doors in deserted corridors and odd cold spots were also a feature of this place.

No explanation of who these ghosts are and why they haunt Ilam Hall has ever been satisfactorily explained.

Well worth a visit.

Have you been to Ilam Hall? Did you see anything spooky? Tell us in the comments below!

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Patsy Sorenti
My name is Patsy Sorenti. I am a serving medium of several Spiritualist churches and together with my husband I undertake paranormal investigations and local ‘ghost walks’. I am an author, specialising in local history and especially with regards to ghosts and legends. I have degrees in English and History from Brunel University and a professional qualification in accountancy and earth sciences from Kingston. I give talks on ghosts and legends to local history societies and have written a thesis on the music of Buddy Holly. I have a son and two grandchildren.


  1. about 60 years ago a friend & I were following the Manifold which was dry as it was summer hot & sunny. As we approached the spot where the river issues from the foot of a cliff a tall lady approached us. She was dressed entirely in white with a white & expressionless face. We had to move to one side to let her pass as the path is not very wide. She did not look at us nor say anything. I thought she was weird and said to my friend what a funny woman. He said nothing but we both looked round to take another look. There was nobody there. She could not have gone up the cliff or dropped into the river & the field behind was totally empty. A rational, sensible explanation would be very welcome.
    My wife & I met our son & family there last week & I told them this story. My son found your pages hence this email.


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