Strange Tales From Paranormal Warwickshire Part 2: Guy’s Cliffe

Today I continue my series with the second episode: the mysterious ruined manor house off the Coventry Road, Warwick. The land at Guy’s Cliffe has been a magnet for Celtic hermits, holy people, and legendary heroes since well before the Norman Conquest, and for medieval historians and the Warwick earls later.

Cover of Paranormal Warwickshire by SC Skillman pub Amberley 2020. Images from top left to right: Hermit’s Cave at Guy’s Cliffe; tower of Chapel of St Mary Magdalene at Guy’s Cliffe; Leicester’s Gatehouse at Kenilworth Castle; East window at Baddesley Clinton Church; Leamington Spa; St Mary’s Warwick; Kenilworth Castle; Thomas Oken’s House Warwick; & Warwick Castle.

The combination of wild clifftop location, a wooded area with caverns in it, a crystal river, and ‘an idyllic glade’ caught the imagination of many. It was one of the earls of Warwick, Richard Beauchamp, who first ordered that a chantry chapel be built here. Upon that spot, we now have the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, still in use by the Coventry Freemasons, who use the premises adjacent to the ruins. Within the chapel, a stone statue of Guy of Warwick may be seen: Guy has a strong connection with the story of this location.

Guy’s Cliffe was the first atmospheric, romantic place that attracted my eye when I arrived in Warwick. I saw it from the footpath on the opposite bank of the river Avon, as so many do, who pause to gaze as they are walking the dog around Milverton Hill, to wonder at the many stories those ruins hold: and sometimes, if they are sensitive, to witness a vision of a lady throwing herself from a high place. This vision has been experienced at different times by those standing on the bridge at the Saxon Mill, further upriver. I spoke to at least two people who gave first-person testimonies of seeing this ghostly figure at Guy’s Cliffe.

I have my own theories about the possible source of the vision. First built here by Samuel Greatheed, MP for Coventry, in 1751, the manor house gained its many gothic architectural flourishes when Samuel’s flambuoyant, idealistic playwright son Bertie, took over ownership. Bertie became a good friend of Sarah Siddons, the greatest tragic actress of the 1800s. (She was probably the equivalent of Dame Judi Dench in her time). Sarah often came here, and would do dramatic readings for Bertie and his family. She had played Shakespeare’s tragic heroines many times, including, of course, Lady Macbeth. Who knows if Sarah stood out on one of those high balconies and declaimed her tragic lines? Is it possible the energy from this magnificent actress has somehow been captured within the stones of those ruins and has transmitted itself to sensitive viewers?

Listen here to my reading from my chapter on Guy’s Cliffe in Paranormal Warwickshire.

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Published by SC Skillman

I'm a writer of psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. My latest book, 'Paranormal Warwickshire', was published by Amberley Publishing in November 2020. Find all my published books here:

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