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The ghost of Himley

If you see something strange in the neighbourhood…then it’s probably the ghost of Gideon Grove.

Himley and Wombourne in the Black Country don’t generally scream of horror movie sets. Both thriving villages, set in beautiful, rolling fields of nature, they have visitors more in the mind of “All Creatures Great and Small,” than “Amityville Horror,” but legend has it that Holbeach House on the A449 and swamp land of Himley Plantation, are the backdrops for a bloody assassination- one which still haunts locals to this very day.

Following the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the subsequent arrest of Guy Fawkes, a number of conspirators escaped the gruesome fate that awaited them in London and headed to the Midlands where there were known Catholic safe houses. On 7th November they arrived at Holbeach House - now a residential care home- and attempted to seek cover.

Their attempts proved futile as, the following morning, heavily armed men led by Richard Walsh, Sheriff of Worcester, surrounded the house and took aim.

Plotters Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy were the first to face the barrels of muskets and were quickly killed, taking their place in a bloody history.

Amongst the melee of the events that were unfolding, a young groomsman to Stephen Lyttleton-owner of Holbeach House- mounted a horse, fearing for his life and keen to escape back to the safety of his mothers home in Trysull. Gideon Grove set off across to Himley Plantation, with a number of gun men hotly in pursuit, who had wrongly assumed he was an escaping conspirator.

Gideon made it as far as the swampy depths of Himley wood, but as he turned to check on the whereabouts of his pursuers, he took a shot in the throat. Losing control of his horse he found himself hurtling head long into boggy waters. As he struggled to stand, he begged for his life, but his pleas were to no avail and he was mercilessly killed by the kings men.

In that moment, a terrifying legend was born.

Over the decades various locals and visitors to the area have told tales of ghostly horseback riders and screaming ghouls near the site of Gideon’s death. Harry Taylor, the original editor of the Black Country bugle, recalled feelings of uneasiness at the plantation, whilst in 1971, local man Joe Green told how we was driving along the A449 when he was brought to a halt as both his car and the overhead street lights failed. He remembered seeing a blinding red light before the sound of horses hooves could be heard, followed by a galloping horse man who passed right by Mr Green before disappearing into the misty fields.

In 1973, a young motorcyclist reported a similar phenomenon.

In the subsequent decades the fascination surrounding the death of Gideon has far from faded and ghost hunters and locals alike still debate the possibility that his harrowed soul still haunts the woods where he met his untimely end.

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