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Location: Falstaff Experience Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6EE
Date: Saturday 13th April 2019
Time: 10.00pm – 3.00am
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Few people are brave enough to stand alone on the staircase at The Falstaff Experience in Stratford Upon Avon, due to the terrifying nature of the resident spirits that haunt this old Shrieves House and Barn. Sinister voices, heavy footsteps and a metallic scraping sound are commonly heard during Ghost Hunts here and many people have been so afraid that they have refused to return.
During your night at The Falstaffs Experience will leave you in little doubt that the spirits who reside here are not the welcoming kind.
Few buildings have had as turbulent a history as No.40 Sheep Street in Stratford Upon Avon, now known as The Falstaff Experience. There have been numerous sightings of ghostly figures and some of the most physical activity we have ever encountered has been experienced at this truly frightening and oppressive location. We defy anybody to walk through its rooms alone without the feeling that you are being watched and followed.
It is little wonder that there is so much reported activity within this building, as it sits upon no fewer than 5 Ley Lines. There are also reported to be several Vortexes on the upper floors, through which non-grounded spirits can enter and leave again, making it a real hot-spot for paranormal activity.
There are several known spirits and ghosts of the Falstaff Experience, including a young pickpocket who will often try to remove people’s jewellery, a corrupt Justice of the Peace who used to extort money from the locals and even a dark, hooded figure with red eyes who is often seen around the same time of the year, just standing and observing. Most frightening of all is the 17th Century serial killer who regularly makes his presence felt by physically interacting with people in the group. Heavy footsteps, whispering voices and dragging sounds have all been heard during vigils here and some have been so badly affected that they have been unable to return to the upper floors.
There has been a property on this site since 1146 and the building has been known as The Shrieve’s House for the last 500 years, in honour of its first recorded tenant, an Archer to King Henry VIII. The building has borne witness to Plague, Fire, Civil War and murder and William Shakespeare is documented to have walked the ancient cobblestones that lead to the massive barn at the rear of the house. Civil War troops were billeted here in the 17th Century and a local Serial Killer is said to have committed his foul deeds within the building during its time as a brothel and tavern. During the history of the Falstaffs there are also strong links to Witchcraft here and one area outside the barn is still used by practicing Witches to this day.
Stratford upon Avon was founded by the Saxons when they invaded what is now Warwickshire in the 7th century AD. The name Stratford is made up of Celtic and Saxon words. It was the street ford that is the ford by the Roman road. Avon is a Celtic word meaning river or water. At first Stratford Upon Avon was a typical village but in the late 12th century it was transformed into a town. (At that time trade and commerce were growing rapidly and many new towns were founded). In the year 1196 King Richard I granted Stratford the right to hold weekly markets. Soon the town of Stratford Upon Avon was up and running and there were many craftsmen there such as blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, brewers and bakers. Stratford was also known for its malting industry. (Processing barley for brewing).
40 Sheep Street
The very first battle of the English Civil War took place at Kineton, some 12 miles from Stratford. Many of the Parlimamentary troops, under the command of Colonel Behr, were billeted at 40 Sheep Street. The battle was called the Battle of Edgehill (sometimes also called ‘The Kineton Fight’), 23rd October 1642. Rumour has it that Oliver Cromwell stayed in the building before the Battle of Worcester. However, without documented evidence, this is difficult to verify.
Colonel Lucas, a Parliamentarian rented the building at the time from John Woolmer (who lived at the top of Sheep Street). John Woolmer was Royalist sympathiser and was often targeted for special treatment. However, when the monarchy was restored (the Restoration), he negotiated the new Borough Charter and became the first Mayor of Stratford. He was the first of three mayors to have lived at 40 Sheep Street over the centuries.
Of course Stratford-Upon-Avon is a lot more peaceful now days. The main industry is tourism, in particular William Shakespeare’s association with the town. Many people also come to Stratford to look at this quaint town and the wonderfully preserved Tudor buildings, such as The Shrieve’s House; Halls Croft and Harvard House to name just a few of the buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries.
In the late 16th century Stratford Upon Avon was still a small market town. It probably had a population of between 1,500 and 2,000. The town slowly grew despite outbreaks of plague in 1564 and in 1645. In 1553 King Edward VI re-founded the grammar school. In the same year he incorporated Stratford Upon Avon (formed a corporation to run it). Meanwhile in 1557 a glover from Stratford Upon Avon named John Shakespeare married Mary Arden, the daughter of a well-to-do farmer from Wilmcote. Their son William was born on or about 23 April 1564 in a house in Henley Street. The son of a middle-class citizen he would have attended the grammar school. In 1582 William married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of a farmer from nearby Shottery. However, in 1587 William Shakespeare left for London. In 1597 he bought a house named New Place in Stratford Upon Avon, which he lived in when he retired. William Shakespeare had a daughter called Susanna. She married a man named John Hall and they lived in a house in Stratford called Hall’s Croft
Meanwhile at 40 Sheep Street, the first known tenant of the building William Shrieve was in residence from 1536. Master Shrieve was an archer to King Henry VIII. The house is still called ‘The Shrieve’s House’ to this day, and it could therefore be reasonably assumed he was an important figure in his time and may possibly have been a Sheriff of some sort, as his name suggests.
Medieval Stratford Upon Avon would seem tiny to us. It probably only had a population of between 1,000 and 1,500. However towns were very small in those days. By the 13th century Stratford had a small grammar school. In the Middle Ages people formed religious communities called guilds. The Guild of the Holy Cross was formed in Stratford in 1269. The guild had its own chapel which still stands.
There has been property on this site since 1196 when the Bishop of Worcester divided the area into 29 plots. 40 Sheep Street was one of those plots, just a short stroll from the riverside. This building, which consists of a wattle-and-daub medieval house (the oldest lived in house in Stratford) and the huge 16th century barn at the rear, has been known as the Shrieves House for the last 500 years.
There have been several fires in Stratford. The 1594 fire burnt down much of one half of Stratford and the fire in 1595 burnt down much of the other side (high Street, Bridge Street and Sheep Street. The front of the Shrieve’s building survived, which was built around 1470, however the rest of the property was 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. There is also documented evidence that his family had strong connections with Shakespeare, as Shakespeare’s daughter Suzannah was close friends with Elizabeth, the daughter of the Rogers; Shakespeare also left their nephew, William Walker, 20 shillings in his will. At this time the property would have consisted of not only the house but outhouses, a stable and a blacksmiths.
As the event finishes in the early hours, we recommend staying over especially if you’re travelling far! Click the link below to check availability…