Monday, 12 June 2017


Monday 12th June 2017

In a recent conversation with ghost hunter and charity worker, Tracie McMeekin, we were reminded of an intriguing visit that we made, some 15 or so years ago now, to a lovely, historic, architectural 'gem', situated on the outskirts of Wolverhampton City.....  A write-up on the visit concerned had been posted up on our (then) website, but, as frequently happens with such things, the details had basically 'been lost' with time and a change of web page, etc.......

However, incorporating that wonderful, online service - the 'Internet Archive Wayback Machine' - we were recently able to re-discover the details concerned and, with a little tweaking, to bring everything up to date, present the gist of the post here, below, for your perusal.....

"In September, 2002, B.B.C. ‘Midlands Today’ broadcast a news report – ‘The House That Cries’: Sun. Sept. 8th – regarding a peculiar phenomena which is said to have sporadically occurred at what is believe to be by some as Wolverhampton’s oldest (extant) building... Graiseley Old Hall.

While the happenings concerned are not necessarily indicative of actual ghostly / haunting phenomena, they would certainly be construed as 'potentially paranormal in nature' by a great many.  Also, following the news report, certain information came to light which certainly seemed to indicate a form of ‘haunted history’ at least, in bygone days at the building…..

Subsequent contact with the then owner of Graiseley Old Hall - former actress, Miss Susan Williams - resulted in three members of the Ghost Club being invited to pay a visit to the house on September 15th, 2002.

Brief Site History

Graiseley Old Hall itself is believed to have been built in 1485, though signs of a much earlier building have been discovered.  (A wooden tablet in one of the walls of the present building is dated 1377, but this is not thought to be genuine).  During road construction, the remains of an old moat were found surrounding the property.  This is thought to have been dug as a precaution against cattle thieves.

16th Cent. records show that the first owner of Graiseley Old Hall was one Nicholas Rydley, a merchant of the staple of Calais.  The Hall remained with his descendants until the middle of the 17th Cent., when one Walter Rotton was, seemingly, forced to sell the property to William Normansell (one of Oliver Cromwells Justices of the Peace) in order to pay off gambling debts!  (Rotton was apparently a dedicated Cockfighter and Dice Thrower!)

During the Queen Anne period (1702 – 1714), the exterior timberwork of the Hall was replaced with brick.  Today, an example of the original Wattle and Daub structuring can be viewed (from behind a perspex panel) in the Entrance Hall of the house.   Interestingly, just to the right of the aforementioned, sections of medieval fresco paintings can be seen on the original wall timbers of the room. 

Towards the end of the 19th Cent., the hall was occupied by Moses Ironmonger – a former Mayor of the Borough.  A friend of Alexander Graham Bell, Ironmonger installed the first, public telephone line ever established in the district: a link between Graiseley Old Hall and his factory on the corer of Salop and Cock Street!

In 1930, the Hall was purchased by the Royal Wolverhampton School for use as an administration / storage site.  It was discovered that the Hall was not an officially listed building in 1957 and Wolverhampton M.P., Enoch Powell, brought the matter to the attention of the local Government.  As a result, Graiseley Old Hall was given Grade II Star listed status. 

Reported Phenomena(?)

In the 11 years that Miss Williams had occupied the Old Hall (*leading up to 2002), she had noticed that small pools of water had collected in the same spot in the Main Hall on four occasions.  The first three times that this occurred, she neither saw nor heard the water appear, but merely discovered a pool of about the same size that might adequately fill a saucer.  On one of these occasions, food had been laid out in the Hall and the contents of one of the plates was found to be ‘soggy’ with liquid. 

The fourth time that water had appeared was on the last Sunday in August 2002 – the 25th – and, luckily, Miss Williams happened to be in the room at the time.

Graiseley Old Hall was open to the public on the last Sunday of every month and Miss Williams had been taking a couple of visitors round on a tour of the property.  They were standing in the Main Hall, scrutinising an old Tithe Map situated on a long table, when they all became aware of a ‘splashing’ sound.  Looking up, they were surprised to find water dripping rapidly from a point on one of the beams that ran across the Hall ceiling and onto the opposite end of the table to where they were situated.  (The exact same spot in the room where the pools had previously been found).

Miss Williams admits that her immediate reaction was to think that someone had spilled something on the floor of the room above and the liquid was now dripping through the ceiling.  Some people had been staying with her at the time and one of the guests was using the bedroom directly above.  Immediately checking on the situation, Miss Williams found that the guest in question was currently situated in his room, but certainly hadn’t spilled anything on the (uncarpeted) floor.

The guest in question actually accompanied Miss Williams back to the Main Hall, where they found that the water had now stopped dripping.  Upon immediate investigation, the beam was found to be completely dry at the point where the liquid had originated.  (And along the rest of it’s length). 

When asked if she thought that these episodes were possibly paranormal in origin, Miss Williams told us that she didn’t really know.  She did, however, approach a local psychic concerning this matter – a representative of the person concerned appearing in the ‘Midlands Today’ feature – though they appeared fairly non-committal in their comments on the subject.  (Most peculiar for a psychic, we thought?)

Of considerable interest was the fact that Miss Williams received a letter from a local resident following the news broadcast of Sept. 8th.  The note mentioned that, around 40 years earlier, the family then residing at Graiseley Old Hall had actually suffered an outbreak of what they believed was ‘Poltergeist’ activity.  The family concerned was that of the Rev. Pearce – Chaplain of the Royal Wolverhampton School.

Unfortunately, little was known of the actual nature of the phenomenon concerned, save for the fact that activity had only started when the Reverend’s children had reached their teens and only occurred when they were present….. 

Observations

The oak beam from which the water has been known to drip has certainly bowed (sagged) towards it’s middle to a fair degree over the centuries.  However, the lowest point of this bow effect does not seem to correspond with the point at which the water originates.  Unless there is some form of optical illusion being created by subsidence within the structure of the room itself, the point where the water originates is over a foot distant from the lowest point of the bend.

The water itself was described as only ‘dripping’ – but rapidly and the duration of the event itself was relatively brief.  (A matter of a few minutes maximum).  ‘Condensation’ and ‘Damp’ – as some have suggested as a reason for the effect – certainly would not seem to account for this activity?  The volume of water that would need to collect on the surface of the beam before such an effect could manifest would be considerable, and therefore quite visible, and would surely not be able to 'collect' in the volume concerned, before dripping from the point on the beam?  Also, the ceiling of the room is constructed from a number of such beams, so why should only one of these attract condensation, in this way, a mere 4 times in over a decade?

The Hall itself does suffer with damp in places, but certainly nowhere near the levels needed to create such an event; and certainly not so in the Main Hall or the bedroom above.  It is a rare form of condensation / damp which manifests openly for a few minutes, then retreats leaving a formerly dripping surface bone dry?

A couple of W.M.G.C. members suggested (a) a possible hollow of channel running through the beam (which might store, then release liquid sporadically), or (b) some form of potential liquid source from ‘underneath’ the floorboards of the bedroom above, releasing water via seepage through the ceiling below.

With regards to both suggestions, the fact that this had only occurred 4 times in 11 years sounds rather unlikely(?)  The former idea may account for the same amount of water being released each time, but, again, the duration between each episode is puzzling.  The question of ‘seepage’ is also unlikely, as there were no visible damp patches to be seen on the ceiling of the Main Hall....?"  

As mentioned at the beginning of this entry, we should just like to remind visitors that the aforementioned, Tracie McMeekin, is the founder of a Walsall-based, 'homeless charity' called 'Hands To The Homeless' which carries out crucial work in the West Midlands region in supporting destitute and / or needy individuals and families.  Anyone wishing to help out in any way with this stirling work is urged to contact Tracie at:  supermcmeekin@aol.com  The Facebook page for H.T.T.H. - a 'sales page' for raising funds for the charity, full of bargain, quality items - can be found HERE

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