If you are fascinated by the supernatural and want to know just where you can you can be in with a chance of meeting a ghost or two then Staffordshire is a hotspot for the paranormal, it seems.
Paranormal investigator Damon Simms has compiled a list of the 20 most haunted places in the county that he says are sure to have you quaking in your boots.
He says the county is not short of a spook or two and is a go-to place for people like himself.
And top locations include spots were witches are said to haunt, as well as creepy castles and houses that are sure to grab the attention of paranormal fans.
For the county is said to be home to phantom miners, a spooky lady of the lake and little boy who is said to have been spotted on an old railway line.
Here are some of Staffordshire’s most spine tingling places, says Damon – and what he had to say about them. Be sure to check in the current times that places that can be visited are open.
Short Street, Longton
Short Street is a little-known hotbed of paranormal activity, located just off of Uttoxeter Road in Longton.
A narrow, cobbled road holds three workers’ cottages,numbers 23, 25 and 27.
There have been numerous reports of the smell of cigarette smoke, voices and even a ghost cat that has been seen sitting in front of one of the cottages at the listed buildings.
Cocknage Woods, Longton
Located just off Cocknage Road leading from Queen’s Park, in Longton, this eerie, heavily-wooded area would not look out of place in a horror movie.
Paranormal activity here ranges from phantom miners from the old Florence Colliery to large metallic space craft!
Trentham Gardens, Stoke on Trent, is said to be haunted by ghost nuns and marching soldiers.
Recorded back as early as 1086 in the doomsday book, the Trentham estate has been home to a vast and diverse range of people, from nuns to nobles to Army recruits. As early as 1500s there were tales of ghost nuns, a phantom horse and rider and apparitions of marching soldiers.
Burslem and the legend of Molly Leigh
No list of paranormal locations for Staffordshire would be complete without the tale of Burslem ‘witch’ Molly Leigh. I suppose my first experience with stories of the paranormal where those of Molly, passed on to me by my grandmother. We know that Molly was born in 1685 and died when she was 63.
Even as a baby there were strange stories such as Molly having the ability to eat crusts when she was just hours old, that she had a “dark companion” or “familiar” – a black bird that would been seen with her at all times. There were accusations of Molly turning beer and milk sour using witchcraft. What’s rather unique about this story is that Molly definitely existed.
At the side of St John’s churchyard in the Mother Town sits Molly’s grave – facing north to south in the opposite direction from all the others; buried that way by Parson Spencer to remind us all that someone he believed was a witch is laid to rest there.
Local legend says that if you run around her grave three times on Halloween while chanting “Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh come and chase me,” she is said to chase you from the church yard. There is so much more to this fascinating story and researching her legend is deeply intriguing. A must for any local investigator, he says.
Queen’s Park, Longton
A Grade II heritage park, through the years Damon has spoken with people who claim to have encountered spirits such as the lady of the lake, the jogger in the tree, the little boy on the old train line and a distinguished gentleman in fine clothes and wearing a top hat by the clock tower.
Free to visit and worth an investigation for beginners and experienced hunters alike. Be sure to check in the current times before setting off that it is open.
Apedale Mining Museum
Just outside the village of Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, as with most mines, there were tales of terrible accidents and lives lost, so it comes as no surprise that Apedale also has stories of lost souls walking the long, dark tunnels searching for a way home.
Etruria Industrial Museum
In the 1770s this fascinating and unique location opened for business but the area also holds other historic significance as it was the location of North Staffordshire’s first public hospital which was around from 1804 to 1869. A visit to the museum will have even the sceptical believing it could be genuinely haunted.
It boasts a rustic, original appearance and timeless ambiance. Sounds of a woman’s crying, echoing through the buildings, and even a ghostly barge sighted back in 1998, make the museum another brilliant location for paranormal enthusiasts.
Stafford Castle combines a 14th century keep and later rebuilding in the Gothic Revival style.
In the 1960s there were reports of a headless horseman, witnessed by a caretaker, and an apparition of a little girl giggling and then running away from visitors. I was once shown a photo of a dark mass in the shape of a man that one paranormal investigator claimed to have taken during a vigil at the castle in 2005.
12) The King’s Hall, Stoke
The King’s Hall, part of Stoke Town Hall, built in 1834.
Over the last 60 years or so it has also been the home of some terrifying encounters for poor visitors who claim to have come face to face with a young boy who asks for help before vanishing and other strange entities including the sound of music from decades ago that still echoes around the beautiful venue.
Alton Towers was the former seat of the Earls of Shrewsbury.
Nearby Alton Castle was built in the 17th Century. Sightings here include phantom soldiers and the ghost of a large black dog. But Alton also has another legend – that of the “chained oak” (well worth a little research).
The legend has been adopted as the basis for the popular Hex ride at the park.
Hanley register office/town hall
Hanley’s former Town Hall is now used as the Register Office.
Located in Stoke-on-Trent city centre’s Cultural Quarter, this elegant building is said to be home to more than 10 ghosts.
I have spoken with a number of people, including civil servants, who claim to have seen a Victorian woman cleaning near the main staircase, a thin man rushing through the many tiled corridors and newly-wed couple who seem to be continually reliving their special ceremony in one of the grand rooms.
Beech Caves is near Newcastle. Stories of numerous suicides and possible overdosing have become the stuff of urban legends.
Strange voices and visions of fleeting shadow people are mainly reported – along with a number of other strange tales of cloaked phantoms that chase people from the foreboding caves, screaming as they leave.
The Victoria Hall, Hanley
Music has been heard coming from the orchestra pit when it is dark and empty, and on many occasions staff and visitors have claimed to have seen “people” sitting in the seats as if they are waiting for a show to start … before disappearing in to thin air.
This location is certainly “active” and it is well worth its place in my top 10.
The Regent Theatre, Hanley
Many independent witnesses claim to have seen a young girl in the auditorium, while the figure of a lonely looking man staring out from one of the balconies towards the stage is often mentioned too.
There have also been numerous sightings of figures rushing through the corridors as if they are hurrying to get to the stage to make their entrances.
One thing is for sure, having visited virtually every haunted location in Staffordshire – and taking into account the atmosphere and tension that the theatre lends to any investigation – The Regent is a star performer in Supernatural Staffordshire.
Tutbury Castle is said to be haunted by Mary, Queen of Scots.
The most famous ghosts said to be haunting this magnificent location are the white lady in the tower, a soldier who walks the grounds and even the spirit of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Ford Green Hall, Smallthorne
Many visitors and staff of the museum over the years have claimed to have experienced some truly amazing incidents – including a curator who worked therein the 1970s who claimed that the activity was so regular that she became accustomed to visitation by ghosts on an almost daily basis.
One ghost even disrupted a day-time tour she was giving by chatting to a lady visitor who was the only person who could see the apparition. I have visited this location on many occasions and can say that, having experienced for myself strange sound and anomalies caught on camera – along with the testimony of others – Ford Green Hall has to be one of our county’s most haunted locations.
Covering almost 30 square miles, it’s no wonder that Cannock Chase feature some of the most bizarre and intriguing tales of the paranormal in Staffordshire. From alleged encounters with werewolves (more than 20 reported sightings in the last 10 years), UFOs, and phantom shadow people to the more recent spate of “black eyed children”, Cannock Chase seems to have it all.
A beautiful location for a walk during the day turns into something far more sinister when the sun goes down.
Last year, I was contacted by more than 30 people claiming to have witnessed terrifying incidents that cannot be explained.
The Leopard pub
The Leopard pub, Market Place, Burslem. Tales of a statue of a horse being flung by invisible hand across the bar and dark entities walking the hidden corridors make this a stunning location.
The former Westcliffe Hospital
Westcliffe Hospital, Turnhurst Road, Tunstall. The number of people who have spoken to me to relate stories of the spirits of former patients walking the corridors, poltergeist activity mocking nurses by banging on doors from empty rooms, and pieces of furniture,such as beds, moving by themselves, is incredible.
Then there were the security guards who refused to work night shifts. Sadly this location is now not accessible but taking into account the eye witness accounts I have researched, the Westcliffe Hospital site is a worthy second in this list.
Gladstone Pottery Museum
The bottle kilns at Gladstone Pottery museum, Longton. My number one may not be such a surprise to experienced paranormal researchers. The factory at Gladstone Pottery Museum, in Longton, originally opened in 1787 and has the perfect ingredients for a haunted location.
I have been to this location on many occasions and it never fails amaze me because of the paranormal activity people claim to experience.
There’s cloth-capped children playing ‘ring a ring o’ roses’ in the courtyard,a burly, bare-knuckle fighter near one of the kilns who is said to shout at anyone who goes near the area he haunts and even a lady in Victorian clothing who glides past people while giving off the sweet scent of lavender.
A genuinely faultless location to investigate and one that I urge anyone who wants to take paranormal research seriously treats themselves to.