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24 September 2014

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Be very afraid of our spooktacular tales

Ghostly goings on at Coombe Abbey
Coombe Abbey at night - but what is the mysterious figure at the front?
We have chosen some of our favourite ghost stories from Warwickshire and now we want to hear your spooktacular spine-chillers!

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Since Coventry and Warwickshire are home to some of the most historic buildings in the country, it makes perfect sense for it to be able to lay claim to being one of the most haunted areas in the country.

From the frightening friar that roams Coombe Abbey to the phantom lorry of Ryton, there's enough nocturnal spiritual activity to make your hair stand on end permanently. And, of course, our area is home one of Britain's most haunted houses - Ettington Park.

Monkeying about from the frightening friar
The friars of Coombe Abbey - now a spectacular hotel and country park - are the stuff of legend and there can't be many children who have walked through the grounds without having their spines chilled by tales of mysterious monks.

One of the most famous tales from the 12th century abbey is of Abbott Geoffrey, a monk who was brutally murdered at Coombe early in 1345. The murderer was never caught and it proved to be the downfall of the monestery.

Visitors to the abbey have reported seeing a cowled figure floating around the grounds and his restless spirit is also believed to be responsible for items being flung about in the kitchens.

Cursing Matilda
 Ghostly goings on at Coombe Abbey
The tower at Coombe Abbey - with a scary face at the window!
Poor Abbot Geoffrey is not alone in the spectral realm at Coombe. One of the saddest tales is of a young gypsy girl who's footsteps can be heard pattering across the cobbles near the stables.

It's believed she is Matilda, who fell pregnant to the master of the house who spurned her.

The baby was still-born and the young girl put a curse on the first born which said they would die before middle age.

Strangely, the Craven family, who owned Coombe for 300 years until 1922, had no luck with their children and many died relatively young.

Other legends surrounding the building include a horseman, said to ride near to the lodge house, and a mysterious woman in Victorian costume riding a bike on the road outside the abbey.

Legendary haunted house
In a place like South Warwickshire, with many villages mentioned in the Domesday Book, myths and legends are bound to still exist.

But even with spectres like the lady in white at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the old lady that haunts Ragley Spring in Alcester, there is one place guaranteed to ensure there's not a dry seat in the house.

Ettington Park, the imposing Victorian mansion, is frightening enough to look at without venturing inside. Its scary neo-gothic architecture make it look like the architypal haunted house - so much so it featured in the classic 1963 shocker The Haunting.

 Ghostly goings on at Ettington Park
The haunted house-like Ettington Park, can you spot the mysterious figure?
The park may now be a magnificent four-star hotel but its spirits ignore the guests and appear at will and have terrified visitors and staff alike for many years.

Among the tales reported by white-faced guests are of a phantom lady in white who roams the corridors at night.

Lady Emma, as she has been dubbed, has been seen by many swishing along the cloistered terrace before melting into a solid wall. Visitors have also reported feeling fabric stroked across their faces while in bed and cold spots at various points around the building.

Phantom truck drives them nuts!
One of the newer tales of haunting comes from the A45 near Ryton at an accident blackspot. One story goes back to a dark, winter night in the early eighties when a man was battling his way through the fog on his way home.

His car headlights could barely penetrate the fog for more than 10 metres, but suddenly ahead he saw the gleam of headlights heading straight for him. As the lights grew closer he saw it was a lorry, careering out of control and heading straight for him.

 A ghostly lorry
A ghostly lorry looms throug the fog
As the lorry roared closer it was clear he had to get out of the way - and fast - and the man was forced to swerve his car off the road. As he crashed into the embankment he turned - and realised the truck had vanished.

Several other motorists have reported seeing a lorry swerving through the fog on the wrong side of the road but no-one has ever seen the face of the driver and every time it has disappeared into thin air.

Now it's your turn
Now it's your turn! There are hundreds more ghost stories from the area - and everyone knows at least one!

Tell us your favourites, or even send us your spooky photos, and we'll print them here, that is - if you're brave enough!

Send all your ghoulish tales to the email address above right.

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