Interview with Michael Reddy ahead of a fortnight of ‘Ghostly Goings On!’ In Warwickshire
Written by Clay on May 1, 2014
Birmingham Ghost Walks have been a huge success over the last five years, with over 3,000 people having been on either the Graveyard or Sinister City walks. Newspaper articles have been published on hauntings at two of the pubs featured in the Ghost Walks, along with the story of the haunting of a waiting room on New Street Station with details supplied by the great grand daughter of the ex-railway worker from the 1930′s.
In 2013, Michael and Ian, qualified Institute of Tourist Guiding guides, ran some trial walks to get a feel for the right stories to use. They say that 2014 Warwick’s 1,100 year, seemed like a good year to share with visitors and residents alike some of its rich history of plague, torture, public execution, murder and unexplained activity. The Rose and Crown in Market Square is the walks start and finish point, a long dead ex-landlady is sometimes seen in the bar, and during a research visit to the cellar, Michael was told of a playful poltergeist moving small items around the cellar. The Tudor House on West Street is the furtherest we walk West, Sweetie the owner shared stories of builders meeting a ghostly Lady of the Manor, whilst they were on a tea break. There are also reports of a young chimney sweep that sits in a rocking chair by the fire in the bar. Heading back towards Westgate, we talk about the inspiration for Tolkien’s Ghost Army.
Onto Castle Street once the home of a one of Warwick’s most successful and most generous merchant, Thomas Oken. His home now the Thomas Oken Tearoom, is run by Jo. Generous with her time sharing stories, Michael thinks Thomas Oken would have approved of Jo, her warm friendly manor is mirrored by that of the man, believed to be Thomas Oken, who has been seen walking around the Tea Room smiling at guests before fading into nothing.
Of course the castle must feature in any walk of Warwick, and although Francis Greville, the 5th Earl of Warwick, didn’t share his wife’s Daisy’s views on the supernatural, it is believed he made up stories of ghosts to encourage curious Victorians to pay a few Shillings to visit the Castle. As the County town Warwick was also the centre for justice for hundreds of years, people being hanged in public was a regular sight, about one a quarter in the mid 1700′s but the last public hanging in Warwick was 150 years ago, with the last hanging behind closed doors 50 years later.