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SPOOKY SPETCHLEY

Spetchley Park Gardens and the Spetchley Estate are steeped in history dating to before the Battle of Worcester in 1651, it is therefore no surprise that the Estate has many wonderful stories to tell, some more spine chilling than others.

One of the most well-known ghost stories is that of white lady who haunts the ornate iron bridge that crosses the A422. The footbridge links Spetchley Park to the Berkeley family cemetery on the other side of the road and was built to provide the priest with easy access to the family chapel. The white iron bridge casts an earie glow at twilight and there have been numerous accounts of a ghostly lady in white walking across the bridge, the lady is believed to be Katherine Berkeley; she is also said to haunt Old Rectory Cottage, known locally as 'the priest house'.

Katherine was the wife of Sir Rowland Berkeley, it was Sir Rowland who first purchased Spetchley Park in 1605. The tomb of Sir Rowland Berkeley and his wife Katherine is within All Saints Church in the grounds of Spetchley Park Gardens. The tomb is a spectacular chest with a large effigy of Sir Rowland and Katherine carved from marble laying side by side. Next time you pass under the bridge at night be brave and look out for Katherine.

Another ghost known to haunt the Gardens is Ellen Willmott. Ellen Willmott was a very important horticulturist and was related to the Berkeley family by the marriage of sister Rose to Robert Berkeley; it was Rose and Ellen who worked together to design the beautiful Victorian Gardens seen today. Ellen had a reputation for carrying a bag of Eryngium Giganteum seeds (species sea holly) and scattering them whenever she could. As a result, long after she departed life, sea holly plants kept popping up and now have the common name of Miss Willmott’s Ghost. The sea holly can grow up to 3 feet high and is common around Spetchley Gardens, seen at dusk the silvery-white blooms give the plant a ghostly luminosity.

With so much history it seems befitting that Spetchley Park Gardens are once again giving the Gardens a spooky makeover this Halloween. Follow the Spooky Root House Trail around the Gardens to solve the puzzle and claim a treat; tiptoe through the Trembling Tunnel, peek at the Putrid Pumpkin Patch, and whisper along Witches Walk if you dare. Entry to the Gardens is FREE for children during half term and the trail costs £1 per child.

The Trail is open Wednesday 25 - Sunday 29 October 11am-4pm. Visit www.spetchleygardens.co.uk for full details.