COUGHTON Court near Alcester is the setting for a spooky story, which has won a National Trust competition for young writers.

The competition ran over Halloween last year throughout the Midlands, and challenged writers aged 12 and under to come up with a story inspired by one of the National Trust's Midlands porperties.

Nine-year-old Lara Hodgson's tale 'The Secret Priest Hole' was selected as the winner, inspired by a trip to Coughton Court.

Lara got the idea for her story after seeing one of Coughton Court's more gruesome exhibits, the blood-stained chemise, that is said to have been worn by Mary Queen of Scots when she was beheaded.

Lara said: "“I entered the competition because I love writing and there were lots of historical facts about Coughton Court that I could entwine with some of my own ideas to make an interesting story.

“When I found out I’d won I was ecstatic and ran round screaming.”

As part of her prize for winning the competition, she had her story illustrated by a professional, and made into a book that she will be able to share with her friends and family.

Beccy Speight, regional director for the National Trust in the Midlands and the Spooky Story judge, added: “I loved the start of this story, that ‘Whoosh!’,it means that as soon as it starts, you know you are in for a good ride. It’s very atmospheric (but not full of clichés) and I could have made the connection with Coughton Court without needing to know that was its inspiration. It spoke of that place and its history in a really exciting way. I loved it.”

To find out more about the Spooky Stories competition, or to see a film of Lara reading 'The Secret Priest Hole' at Coughton Court, visit