The Shrieves House and Barn said to be the second most haunted building in Britain is now well known as The Falstaff’s Experience and is situated in the heart of Stratford.
This very haunted building said to be built upon some 5 lay lines dates back to the 16th Century (although a dwelling has stood on this spot since 1196) and itsfirst known tenant was William Shrieve in 1536 who was an archer to King Henry VIII. The house is still called ‘The Shrieve’s House’, and it could therefore be reasonably assumed he was an important figure in his day and may possibly have been a Sheriff of some sort, as his name suggests.
With almost 1000 years of history in which it has born witness to plague, war, witchcraft and, some say, murder. Perhaps it would be more surprising if it were not haunted.
There have been several fires in the property, the most destructive of which occurred in 1595, after which the property would have been extensively rebuilt. The 1595 cobblestones are therefore the oldest surviving in Stratford-Upon-Avon and on which William Shakespeare himself would have walked on his way to the Three Tunns Tavern.
In the 16th century the property was a tavern and the tavern keeper, William Rogers, is said to have been some of the inspiration for Shakespeare’s famous comic character Falstaff who appears in two of his plays. At this time the property would have consisted of not only the house but outhouses, a stable and a blacksmiths.
Also during this period a small cottage was attached to the end of the barn in what was referred to as ‘the witch of Sheep Street’s cottage’ and is now the known as the witch’s courtyard. The local coven still reveres this area and practices their ancient ceremonies here, particularly at Halloween.
There are a number of ‘dominant’ spirits said to be active in the property: an archer from the time of Henry VIII; a serial murderer from the 18th century; a little girl who was a pickpocket in the tavern; a Catholic gentleman from the time of the reformation and a justice of the peace who used his power to run an extortion ring with threats, violence and trumped up charges. There are also sightings of the parliamentary soldiers (although it is more common to experience their injuries); the victims of the serial murderer; children and animals. During certain times of year a dark hooded figure with red glowing eyes, who is said to be a very ancient spirit, stands back and watches.
With cobbled court yards, hidden Priest Holes and Secret Chambers this Location is steeped in history and not one for the faint hearted……..
“Many people have lived and died in The Shrieve’s House since the house was built in the mid-1250s. But for some reason, the people who died there seem to hang around as ghosts. If you want to see/feel/smell a ghost then go there because it is probably the most haunted house in England” (Terry Deary, author)