Ilam Hall, ‘One Of My Most Haunted Places’

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Ilam Hall in the Peak District 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.

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!


  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.

  2. I stated there on November 1983 with a group from a YTS scheme doing hotel and catering. The boys stayed in the attic the girls below. On the last evening of 3 myself and another of the lads I the group pretended to do the wiji board. We didn’t have anything so kinda just blagged it having a laugh and trying to frighten our room mates. One lad had one of the girls with him who’d snuck up. After Kevin and myself had had enough of trying to scare everyone we fell asleep only to be woken by Michelle screaming saying a man in red jacket? white gloves was at the end of the bed holding his hand out I’m pretty sure she said he also had black boots on. It caused a commotion and our tutors were soon up to investigate. In the morning the couple who helped out asked us how everything was and when they were told they even finished describing what the vision was before we had said.even as I write this I still get shivers ha ha. A true story I kid u not

  3. I stayed at Ilam Hall during in a school trip around spring 1969. A group of us were exploring the gardens between the main house and the river. Whilst we were heading towards the part of the gardens that were near river we saw a man dressed in black with a cape and wide brimmed Spanish style hat head into the tower in the corner that contained steps leading down to the riverbank. We ran over and looked over the wall to see if he came out the bottom of the tower with a couple of us heading down the stairs. Some other children were just heading up from the river towards the tower but none of us saw the man again he just vanished.. !

  4. Went a couple of weeks ago. I saw a white wiry haired medium size dog in one of the room corridoors above the entrance and a man in red, some white & epaulettes in the Manifold room…..

  5. I had my first ever ghostly experience in the hostel… I was a sceptic until that point. I was sat in the lounge area (I believe is called the manifold room) facing into the corridor and as clear as day, a black figure walked through one wall and into the other. Myself and another saw this at the same time and we were astounded.

    I think about it still to this day.


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