The ghost of Blithfield Hall: a paleographical escape room

Background and History

The Ghost of Blithfield Hall was originally conceived of as an in-person escape room experience in August 2019 at a three-day Teaching Paleography workshop directed by Heather Wolfe. The participants of that workshop can be found here. In fall/winter 2020, Julie Fisher, Sara Powell, and Heather Wolfe finished the in-person version and tested it with colleagues at the Folger Shakespeare Library, American Philosophical Society, Yale University, and Rare Book School.

In the summer of 2020 they converted the game into an online format using Google Sheets and Google Forms. As of September 2023 approximately 750 people have played this version of The Ghost of Blithfield Hall.

The game's narrative is based on documents that are part of the Papers of the Bagot Family of Blithfield, Staffordshire, a collection of family papers at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The experience consists of an introductory YouTube video describing the challenge, followed by a link to the first "room" of the five room experience.

Playing the game

If you are interested in playing the game or organizing a session for your class, please reach out to palaeographygames at for the starter kit: a YouTube link, the answer key, and a "Tips" slide and document. For advertising purposes, you can use this blurb:

At Blithfield Hall, the ancestral seat of the Bagot family, a troubled spirit roams the corridors. A cache of family letters has been discovered, which seems to hold the answer to the ghost’s unrest. The only problem? These missives were penned in the early 17th century, and other paranormal investigators have failed to make sense of them.

No previous experience with reading English secretary hand is required. The game takes 60-90 minutes to complete. In the Zoom version, participants join breakout rooms and work in groups of three or four, returning to the main room when finished. The game can also be played in-person, with each group sitting in a different part of the classroom and working together on their laptops.

Future plans

We hope to create a hybrid version of this game with online forms and facsimile documents that can be created from PDFs.