Monday, 19 July 2010

The Ghosts of Pluckley Church, Kent

Pluckley is without doubt the most haunted village in Kent, and its residents will tell you it is the most haunted in England. There are certainly ghosts in plenty here, and some are quite spectacular. The most dramatic haunting lies a mile or more south of the main walk, and a two-way excursion is added to this walk for those who feel energetic enough to make it.

Park in the High Street near the church.

The first ghost to be encountered is in the churchyard. This is the Red Lady Dering, one of the more active ghosts in this village. She seems to be searching the churchyard for one gravestone in particular, but it is a gravestone she will never find. The ghost is that of a Lady Dering from the 17th century. She died in childbirth, as did the baby to which she was giving birth. Lady Dering herself was properly buried as befitted the lady of the manor, but the baby has no headstone to mark its grave. It died before it could be baptised and although buried in consecrated land it had no tomb. It is presumed that it is for the grave of her beloved baby that the sad Red Lady Dering searches so diligently.

Inside the church is to be found the Dering Chapel, a small space set aside for worship by this local family and for the burial of their dead. One of the Lady Dering’s interred here was buried inside three lead coffins, each placed within the next. It was said that this was because her husband knew her to be a wicked woman and was determined that her burial should be final. If this were so, it is not clear why the grieving widower should lay a single red rose on the lady’s breast just as the first coffin was closed. Whatever the truth, the spirit of this Lady Dering, carrying her single red rose, has not rested quietly. She has been seen several times kneeling in the Dering Chapel as if in prayer. Perhaps to seek forgiveness for her wickedness, whatever it was.

There are stories of a second ghost being seen inside the church. This is of a woman in fairly modern dress, that of the 1970s. She is seen entering the church as if on a casual visit, but promptly vanishes and is never seen to leave. There is also said to be a white dog, but firm accounts of this spectral hound are elusive.

This is an extract from Ghost Hunter Walks in Kent by Rupert Matthews

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