Two haunted halls reveal their spooky secrets for Halloween!
Birmingham’s Aston Hall and Soho House have long been regarded as two of the most haunted properties in the city, and now they have lifted the curtain on the frights and fiendish fun planned for the year’s October half term and Halloween.
“Many people believe that the temper of Sir Thomas Holte, who built Aston Hall, was so fiery that it has left no fewer than three ghostly echoes which are still experienced today, over 350 years after he died,” comments Kimberley Buddle, museum team manager. “We’ve had sightings of a grey lady and a green lady – thought to be linked to a daughter Holte is said to have locked in her room for years when she disagreed over potential suitors – a servant boy who hung himself in the staff quarters through fear of the repercussions after he stole some food from Holte’s kitchen, and even the spectral form of the cook herself. Records exist of Holte being charged with her murder, although he was not found guilty, and her spirit is said to remain in the hall!”
These stories will be explored during the ‘Haunted House on the Hill’ tours which take place on 30 and 31 October. Promising a frighteningly immersive experience for adults that they will never forget, the tours run at 5pm, 6.30pm and 8.00pm and take visitors in and around the house. Hot sweet tea, along with other confections, will be available in the café from 4.00pm to help those who might need their nerves calming! Admission is £9.00 for adults and £8.00 for concessions. Each tour takes around an hour, though “when fear takes hold and adrenaline starts pumping, it can seem much longer,” cautions Kimberley!
Aston Hall is also hosting some family friendly experiences throughout half term, with daytime tours running from 27 October to 31 October, when visitors will see the Hall dressed for Halloween with Jack O’Lanterns abound. Aston Hall’oween tours take place at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm, with places offered on a first come, first served basis, priced at £6.00 for adults, £5.00 for concessions and free for children under 16.
Meanwhile, it is the comings and goings of a previous owner, Matthew Boulton, that provide inspiration for one of the ghost stories at Soho House in Handsworth. Before the property came into the stewardship of Birmingham Museums, the former hotel’s occupants reported the sound of a phantom coach and horses driving up the front drive and stopping outside the door. During renovations, a ‘besom’ or broom was discovered behind a boarded up fireplace – a traditional technique used to ward off witches – in the location believed to have been occupied by warriner’s hut (the watchman) of Handsworth Heath.
Visitors will be able to look for their own ghostly guests when they take a torchlight tour of the Soho House Museum, for a special Halloween tour of the cellars beneath the house on 31 October. “We’re hoping that one or two of the scares come from our visitors themselves, as fancy dress is warmly welcomed on these tours, taking place at 12.15pm and 2.15pm,” adds the House’s team manager, Samina Kosar. The torchlit tours are the culmination of a week of themed activities at the historic house, which include craft activities and daylight tours.
Admission to Soho House during half-term is £6.00 for adults, £5.00 for concessions and free for children under 16, although there is a small charge for some of the craft activities.
For more information on these, or any of the events taking place across Birmingham Museums, please visit www.birminghammuseums.org.uk
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