While mostly well-known for the murder mystery that began on its grounds, Hagley Hall is also home to a bizarre and unique ghost story.

The house was built between 1754 and 1760 by George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton.

George Lyttelton wore many hats in his life, including a year-long stint as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the third highest ranking position in the British government.

He died in 1773, bequeathing his title and Hagley Hall to his son, Thomas.

Thomas Lyttelton was born in 1744 and throughout his life he gained a reputation for his debaucherous behaviour, racking up a huge gambling debt, which he paid off via a quick and convenient marriage before running away to Paris with a barmaid.

Lyttelton largely drifted around with no purpose or permanent home until his father’s death in 1774 when he returned to Britain to take his seat in the House of Lords and took up residence at Hagley Hall.

On November 24th, 1779, Lyttelton felt ill and retired to bed early. Later that night, Lyttelton had a visitation during which he would swear he was wide awake.

Lyttelton heard the fluttering of wings as if a bird were flying around the room, following by soft footsteps approaching his bed.

When he sat up to see what was happening, he was surprised to find a woman beside his bed, dressed entirely in white with a small bird perched on her hand.

The woman spoke to Lyttelton, warning him that his death was quickly approaching. When Lyttelton finally spoke, he asked how long he had left and the spirit responded: “Not three days, and you will depart at the hour of twelve.”

Lyttelton was not shy about telling this story to anyone who would listen. He was reportedly quite disturbed by the event and at first tried to convince himself that he had merely been dreaming, with his mood seeming to improve over the coming days.

By November 27th, the fated day of the spectre’s prophecy, Lyttelton was by all accounts his old self again, with his guests that evening reporting that he had high spirits. As the evening wore on, though, and the clock approached twelve, his attitude began to change as he became more and more agitated.

In order to prevent Lord Lyttelton spiraling any further, his guests devised a clever conspiracy in which they set the clocks in the house half an hour ahead, and set their own personal pocket watches to match.

As midnight passed, Lyttelton’s relief was evident. “This mysterious lady is not a true prophetess,” he declared when the clocks showed fifteen minutes past twelve, when the time in reality, of course, was fifteen minutes to the hour.

Relaxed and feeling as though his ordeal was behind him, Lyttelton decided it was time to retire to bed and sent his servant to retrieve his nightly medicine.

As the servant was preparing the medicine, he heard unusual breathing in the next room and rushed back to check Lyttelton was alright. Other guests heard the same noises and rushed into the room but they all arrived in time only to see Lyttelton die before their eyes.

Exactly how much truth there is to this story is not entirely clear. It’s true that Lyttelton passed away suddenly at the young age of 35 and the cause of death doesn’t seem to be known.

It’s also true that documents at the time from Lyttelton’s friends and peers do make mention of his strange experience and foretelling of his own death. How accurately these accounts relay what Lyttelton saw on the night of November 24th, however, we will never know for certain.

And interesting postscript to this story comes courtesy of one of Lyttelton’s closest personal friends, Mr Andrews, who claimed to have seen Lyttelton standing by his bedside the night that he died.

Assuming Lyttelton was playing a joke and taking it in good humour, Andrews rose and rang his servant’s bell to order a room to be prepared for his unexpected guest.

Looking around the room again, however, Andrews was confused to find that Lyttelton had vanished. When the servant arrived, Andrews asked whether he had seen Lyttelton. The servant said that he had not.

That was not a satisfying answer for Andrews, who was certain he had seen his friend just moments earlier. Knowing Lyttelton’s sense of humour and assuming this was all part of the joke, Andrews dressed and searched the house for Lyttelton, but of course he would not find him.

At four o’clock the next day Andrews still believed he’d been the victim of some kind of prank when news reached him that Lyttelton had died the previous night.

Was Andrews’ visitation simply a product of his imagination? Or did Lyttelton, as he experienced the grim prophecy coming true, make a ghostly visit to his friend in his dying moments?