Acklam Hall, Pre-visit

On Wednesday 14th October, some of the NGI team went on a pre-visit to Acklam Hall in preparation for the big charity event that we will be helping the Butterwick Hospice out with next month. Claire, Jay and myself arrived a little early so we decided to check out the grave of the Hall’s alleged ‘Grey Lady‘ in the local churchyard which we found without too much trouble.

We arrived back at the car park to meet fellow NGI member Carol, Laura from the Butterwick, plus John, Diane, Anth and his wife from the forum, who are going to be helping us out on the night.

Constructed in 1683 by the grandson of William Hustler, Acklam Hall was built in a contemporary fashionable style, with Dutch influence in the gables (which are sadly now gone).

Acklam Hall Staircase

The grand staircase in Acklam Hall

The Hall continued to be held by the Hustler family – both through the direct line of Sir William Hustler and then, later when no male heir was born to a Thomas Hustler and Constance Boynton (a descendant of the previous owners) the Hall was passed to a nephew Hustler Hopkins who upon inheriting the estate, changed his name to Hustler Hustler.

The Hall and grounds which covered over 40 acres were purchased by Middlesbrough Corporation in 1928 from the last private owner, Mostyn Hustler. Looking at the autioneers list suggests that no actual bids were received other than a sum of £11,500 by the Corporation.

Acklam Hall School opened in 1935 and in 1958, the remaining ornamental gardens were removed and extensions built for a Hall and woodwork and art classrooms. In 1968, Acklam Hall Grammer School merged with Kirby Girls Grammer to form Acklam High School.

The building is currently unoccupied and it is for this reason that NGI and the Butterwick have been granted special access for the event.

The objective of our visit was to assess the building and choose which areas we were going to choose to focus on during the ‘ghost hunt’ and what experiments we were going to try out on the night. The empty classrooms and the large ornate staircase did create a great atmosphere (and that’s even before the lights get turned down for the investigation next month). To be honest we weren’t really expecting anything to happen on our short visit, but there were a couple of things that are worthy of mention.

Whilst checking out the rooms on the first floor, Carol and myself had walked down a corridor to a room to be met by Diane and John who were already there. A few seconds later we were walking back down the same corridor when I noticed a door knob in the middle of the passageway. I asked Carol if she had seen it there earlier and she said no. Likewise neither Diane or John can recall seeing it there either. Now while it is entirely possible that all four of us could have missed spotting or kicking it as we walked down the corridor minutes before, we did find it a bit odd as it was quite noticeable.

Door Knob

The Door Knob moved out of situ due to lighting conditions

The other strange event to happen was when a group of us were checking out the top floor. Jay had just gone through a door into the top of the main stairwell when he just dashed back saying that he was sure that he has just seen a white ‘shape’ on the stairs that had vanished on closer examination. Now our Jay is not really prone the flights of fantasy so this was quite an exciting development. Various tests were carried out and ideas put forward to what could have caused this ‘shape’ but nothing conclusive was proven. Let’s hope we can get to the bottom of it all on the big night.

We also had a couple of ‘sensitives’ with us who picked up on a lot of interesting information, but I won’t go into any detail here as I don’t want to give away too much. Suffice to say they helped pinpoint a few rooms that we should really concentrate on during the charity night.

Acklam Hall seems like a great location and is one that has never been investigated much in the past. I can’t wait to spend the night there next month as anything could happen.

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