Monday, 31 January 2011

The Sad Spectre of Lighthorne, Warwickshire

The Battle of Edgehill brought fame to the soldier Oliver Cromwell at Burton Dassett, but at Lighthorne it brought only tragedy and sadness.

As the armies of the King and of Parliament formed up for battle a few miles to the south, the good folk of Lighthorne shut their doors and hid their goods from the notoriously light-fingered soldiers that marched and countermarched across the landscape. One man, however, chose to set off to join the fighting. Burning with religious zeal for the puritan form of Christianity and appalled by the king’s high handed imposition of high church rituals, the young man set off to fight for Parliament.

He never came back, being killed on the field of battle.

When the news was brought to his wife, a bride of less than three months, she collapsed in the street. She never really recovered from the shock, wasting away and dying just a few months later. Her ghost returns to Church Lane, where she heard the terrible news. She appears as a thin, pale young woman with drawn features and a tear-stained face. Sometimes she seems just to stand and stare, but at other times she weeps and wails in mourning for her lost love. She can be a heartbreaking ghost to encounter.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Annoying Ghost of the Lion Hotel, Worksop

There can be no doubt about the cause of the haunting at the Lion Hotel in Worksop, recently refurbished and now part of the Best Western chain. The ghost here is Alice, a girl employed as a servant back in the early 18th century. She had the misfortune to fall desperately in love with the then owner of the hotel. As a prosperous businessman, he had his eyes on a richer dowry and refused to have anything to do with an impoverished, if pretty, servant girl. Distraught, the girl hanged herself.

The phantom girl is encountered in the older part of the hotel, most often in the corridor over the archway that connects the yard to the street, or on the staircase leading down from the corridor to the bar. She also frequents the kitchen, though there she is not seen so often. When she does put in an appearance, she can be a real nuisance. She bangs doors, throws open the fridge door and moves utensils around when nobody is looking.

More sinister is her behaviour upstairs in Room 201, a room not often rented out to the public and usually used by off-duty staff. One lady staff worker was resting in the room in the summer of 2002 when she woke up with a start. The atmosphere in the room was hot and oppressive, and she could not breathe. The sense of suffocation was as if a pair of hands were pushing down hard on the chest, stopping any breath being taken. After a few seconds, the feeling passed and the temperature of the room returned to normal. A most disturbing experience.

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Laughing Ghost of Wrotham

The laughing ghost of Wrotham is no jovial fellow, but a chilling and terrifying ghost. Fortunately he has not been seen for some years, though there is always the chance that he might reappear. the haunting is notable as it became the subject of one of the very earliest serious attempts to investigate a ghost.

The phantom in question walked at Wrotham House in the years before World War I. He was dressed in a fine grey three piece suit of late 18th century cut and edged with elegant silver lace. His usual walk was along a corridor, up a flight of stairs and into a bedroom at the rear of the house. Once in that room he would laugh, but there was no humour in the sound. Instead it was a cold and evil laugh, as if he were planning some crime and gaining much enjoyment from the anticipation of it.

He was, indeed, an evil man for this ghost was that of a former owner who had murdered his own brother as he slept in the haunted bedroom. Perhaps the cold laugh was given as he bent to his work that night. The deed proved fatal to both brothers, for the killer was hanged for his crimes.

The haunting was thoroughly investigated by the Lord Halifax of the day in the 1870s. He questioned a Mrs Brooke and her maid, Miss Page, who had both seen this unpleasant ghost. Lord Halifax gathered details about the ghost and his appearance as well as the story behind the haunting. Unlike other amateur investigators of his day, however, Halifax went further and made determined efforts to look beyond the haunting at the science behind it.

Halifax took as his starting point that neither Mrs Brooke nor her maid knew anything about the haunting before seeing the ghost - both of them being only visitors to the house. This meant they were unlikely to have dreamed or hallucinated the ghost after having been told about it. Whatever they saw had not been unprompted by stories of the phantom. He also insisted that both ladies be willing to put their names to their experiences in public, thus escaping the charge that he was having his leg pulled by anonymous friends.

One interesting point that emerged from the investigation was that the maid was in the habit of wedging a chair under the door handle whenever she slept in a strange house. She had seen the ghost open the door and enter her room, yet when she herself tried to leave the room the chair was still firmly in place. This might mean that the ghost had only temporarily disturbed the door and chair, effectively creating a local and short-lived disturbance. On the other hand the door may never have actually opened, meaning the maid may have imagined the whole scene or may have perceived a vision which had no real physical presence.

Another feature Lord Halifax noted in this case was that the room had become suddenly very cold just before the ghost appeared and did not warm up again until a few minutes after it had gone. This drop in temperature has since been noted by many investigators into ghosts and the paranormal. It is not merely a perceived chill felt by witnesses, but has been recorded by scientific instruments in haunted rooms. One theory holds that whatever it is that causes ghosts to appear draws its energy from the surroundings. As that energy is sucked away the temperature falls dramatically. It is, of course, just a theory but it does fit the facts.

Lord Halifax investigated a number of hauntings and put his findings together in a book entitled, obviously enough, Ghost Stories. Although by the standards of modern day psychic investigators, Lord Halifax was rather clumsy and unscientific in his methods, he did set an example of subjecting ghosts and hauntings to rather more exhaustive treatment than the mere recounting of fireside horror tales.

This is an extract from Haunted Places of Kent by Rupert Matthews

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Some Exeter Ghosts

A fine pair of adjoining buildings in Exeter High Street are said to be haunted, though whether it is by the same ghost is unclear. The ancient Turk’s Head pub has for centuries played host to the ghost of a red-headed lady in a long green dress. She is said to walk slowly around the ground floor, but is never in sight for very long. This ghost has the knack of being seen just as she walks out of sight through a door or behind a post.

The Turk’s Head shares its cellar with the Guildhall next door. This building too is said to be haunted by a lady. She has not been seen recently, however, so it is difficult to get a good description. Perhaps she is the same lady in green, perhaps not.

Very different is the phantom who has been seen outside in the High Street. This is the great Victorian novelist Charles Dickens. Dickens spent a lot of time in Exeter, and lodged at the Turk’s Head on most visits. He is sometimes seen standing quietly by the side of the road, watching the passersby intently. Perhaps he is looking for a good character for his next novel.

Down an alley off the High Street stands the ancient Ship Inn. The sign outside depicts a 16th century warship surging through a stormy sea under a press of canvas. The sign is appropriate for it was here that Sir Francis Drake lodged when visiting Exeter. The dashing sea rover has been seen several times since his death. He wears a doublet and hose of, for his time, a most fashionable cut and stalks restlessly through the pub. Sir Francis Drake was a dominating figure in Devon during the 16th century and his ghost may be encountered in Plymouth and at Buckland Abbey as well as in the Ship Inn, Exeter. And he is linked to another haunting at Musbury.

During the 1970s the Ship Inn experienced some strange phenomena. A few people found themselves being pushed gently from behind as they walked down the stairs, though nobody was behind them. Various small objects went missing around the pub, only to turn up in unexpected places. At the time the events were linked to the ghost of Drake, but if so he soon tired of his pranks.

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Noisy Ghost of Linslade

Quite what it is that has upset the ghost of the Buckingham Arms in Linslade nobody knows. But everybody is agreed that he must be very distressed indeed to indulge in the antics that he does. Not that he is present the entire time. Sometimes months will pass with not a sign of him.

And then, early in the morning, the front gate will unlatch itself and swing open to hang loosely on its hinges. After a few seconds, just long enough for someone to walk up the short, front path, loud knocks sound on the door. And the Buckingham Arms is in for a disturbed day.

On such days, the ghost crashes about in the cellar, sounding for all the world as if he is smashing the barrels to pieces – though damage is never done. Or he may run up the stairs with heavy pounding footfalls and seem to dash from room to room opening and slamming doors – though no doors ever seem to move.

Who this noisy ghost might be is unknown. Why he crashes around so loudly is utterly obscure. Like all the ghosts of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, he comes to the mortal world and intrudes noisily and dramatically for a while. Then he like the other ghosts goes back to wherever it is they came from.

And they leave the good folk of Bedfordshire or Buckinghamshire to return to their more normal, day to day activities.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Most Haunted pub in Hampshire (says the landlady)

The Brushmaker’s Arms at Upham is easy enough to find, but actually visiting it requires a bit more dedication. The B2177 runs through Lower Upham. You need to turn north in the middle of the village along the lane signposted to Baybridge. This will lead you to Upham itself. The lane enters the village, then turns sharp right past the church. About 100 yards after this turn is a narrow side lane to the left. The Brushmaker’s Arms is up this side turning. It is no good driving up the turning, however, as the lane is far too narrow to park on. Best to leave your car near the church and walk, though make sure you have not obstructed any of the driveways or private parking places with which the village abounds.

The effort is well worth it for the Brushmaker’s Arms is exactly the sort of friendly, jovial local pub that everyone would want to have at the end of their road. Apart from the murders, that is.

Of course, both killings happened many years ago. Nobody has been murdered here for simply ages.

The less said about the gruesome events down in the cellar the better. They do not make for family reading and, in any case, have nothing to do with the haunting. It is the murder in the upstairs front bedroom that causes all the trouble and which brought me to this charming pub.

“I’ll fetch Jill”, said the barman when I called, and he trotted off upstairs.

“Here about the old feller upstairs?” asked a bearded man nursing a pint of ale at the bar. I confirmed that I was.

“Come to the right place for ghosts,” the man continued. He pointed out a framed certificate hanging on the wall by his head. It was from Teacher’s Whisky and confirmed that the Brushmaker’s Arms had come in the top 12 of the “Most Haunted Pubs in Britain Contest” held in 1982. I asked the man if he had seen the ghost.

“No trouble there,” chipped in a man sitting at a table by the window. “You’re talking to our resident spirit right now.” He laughed. “Been here long enough to qualify as a ghost yet?” he asked the bearded man.

“Only since I retired from the BBC,” came the reply. “What’s that 15 years now. Not as long as Rob there.” He pointed at the other man at the table, a distinguished looking gent with silver hair. “How long you been coming here, Rob.”

“Ooooh. Must be near seventy years now,” declared Rob. “Man and boy, I been coming here. Course back then they weren’t too particular about how old a boy was. If you done your hard work on the farm, you got your beer. Very haunted this place, mind.”

“Yep,” continued his friend. “Saw it myself in here. A few years back now. I was sitting at the bar, bout where you are, when the bottles started moving. They fell off the shelf, then flew across the bar. It was like someone was throwing them, but they didn’t break. Just shot across the room and landed.”

It looked like the banter might go on for some time, but the landlady Jill arrived at that point to fill me in. The ghost is that of a 16th century man named Mr Chickett. It was he who had the building constructed as part house, part brush factory - hence the pub’s unique name. As the man grew older, his fortune grew greater. He would sit upstairs in his bedroom, counting out his gold and silver coins before stashing them away safely in a hidden compartment. It was not, however, hidden well enough. One morning his workers arrived to find old Mr Chickett battered to death, his room ransacked and his money stolen.

Ever since then, the ghost has walked. The most usual manifestation is the sound of footsteps which are heard in the bar directly underneath the room where the murder was done. Less often the sound of chinking coins is heard from the same small room. Objects being moved around in the bar are a regular occurrence, though they are not actually seen to move very often. More usually an object is found in one place when it had been put in another.

The ghost himself is seen only rarely. “Last time was about three years ago,” said Jill. “I was upstairs doing some paperwork in the office. Suddenly I heard the door to the front bedroom [where the murder was committed] slam shut, very hard and loud. I looked round and there was the outline of a man, like a shadow on the wall, moving off. Only it couldn’t be a shadow as the sun was not out. It was definitely a man moving down the corridor.” Jill smiled. “Mind you, we haven’t seen him since. People hear him of course. But I think he must like us. We get no trouble.”

To be honest, I had not really been listening to this last bit. The barman had carried a plate of steak pie with potatoes and carrots past to the talkative chaps at the table. It was, I thought, time to tuck in. And the pie was truly delicious.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A Haunted Walk around Bramber Castle - part 2

2) Leave Bramber Castle, cross the A283 and head south along Maudlin Lane. This lane soon bends to the right, then reaches a crossroads. Go straight on into Spers Lane. At the end of this residential road a track continues southwest to climb the steep face of the South Downs. At the summit of the hill it meets the South Downs Way. Cross the lane in front of you and head northwest along the crest of the hill along the well signed South Downs Way. Follow the South Downs Way to the mighty earthworks of the Chanctonbury Rings, on the right.

This most haunted of landmarks is home to a diverse collection of supernatural entities. The most dangerous is without doubt the Devil himself. It is here that he conducts his bargaining with mortals who want to sell him their souls in return for their wishes on this earth. All you need do is to run around the earthworks anti-clockwise seven times at midnight on midsummers eve. The Devil will then appear carrying a bowl of milk. Should you wish for great wealth, power or some other earthly delight the Devil will give it to you, in return for your soul. The bargain will be sealed by taking turns at drinking the milk.

On the other hand you may care for the rather less dangerous feat of raising the ghost of Julius Caesar. To achieve this, you should walk around the earthwork counting the beech trees that stand here, and striking each one as you pass with your hand. This feat is rather easier since the Great Storm of 1987 which brought down over half the trees.

The only ghost which is seen here with any regularity – few people wanting to talk to either the Devil or Julius Caesar – is that of an old man with a long beard who sits on the banks of the earthworks and gazes out over the surrounding countryside. He appears to be a gentle old boy who bothers nobody and seems content to be left in peace.

This is said to be the ghost of an English warrior who escaped, wounded, from the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He fled west along the downs until he reached Chanctonbury Rings, where he collapsed and could go no further. The local folk brought him food and water, and hid him from the vengeful men of the Norman invader. When the man recovered from his wounds he stayed here, living in a small hut he built inside the ancient earthworks and earning his living doing odd jobs for local farmers. Who he was or where he came from, he never told anyone. But hour after hour he would sit and gaze out over the Sussex countryside. Whoever he was, his ghost remains.

Before leaving Chanctonbury Rings, look along the track that runs due west, part of the South Downs Way. This leads to the village of Findon. The route is haunted by an enigmatic man in black who rides a powerful black horse at full gallop. He has been seen at odd intervals spurring and whipping his mount up the hill and along the crest toward Chanctonbury Rings. When he arrives, he vanishes without completing whatever urgent business brings him here at such speed.

3) Retrace your steps about 300 yards east from Chanctonbury Ring. A bridleway, marked by a blue arrow veers off to the left. This bridleway plunges steeply downhill through woodland heading northwest. This is a steep route and the surface is deeply rutted. It can be very slippery after rain. At the foot of the hill the bridleway passes through a gate to become a surface lane.

4) Follow the lane for about 100 yards to a junction. A wider lane goes straight on, while a narrow lane signposted “Private Road” turns right. Turn right along the private road - which is also a public footpath. This lane crosses another, passes Great Barn Farm and jinks sharp left to enter the gated and very private grounds of Wiston Park.

5) Instead of following the lane left, go straight ahead across open fields following a footpath that skirts the grounds of Wiston Park. This emerges back on to the lane near a house. Turn right and follow the narrow lane to pass Charlton Court. The lane becomes Mouse Lane on the outskirts of Steyning. At the end of Mouse Lane, turn right into High Street, then turn left at a crossroads into Vicarage Lane. Follow this road to reach the Church of St Andrew.

The present stone church dates back only about 900 years or so, but stands on the site of a much older wooden building. It was founded in about 680 by St Cuthman. Cuthman was born into a family of shepherds in Somerset and for some years followed his family trade. He then experienced a vision of Christ, abandoned his work and took to a wandering life preaching to the poor. One day he was travelling along the valley of the Adur when the axle of his cart snapped in two. Cuthman took this to be a sign from God that he should settle down. This he duly did, building a wooden church on the spot where his cart collapsed. The holiness of Cuthman attracted other followers seeking a religious, peaceful life and so Steyning came into being.

The ghost here has nothing to do with St Cuthman, but is that of a much later holy person. In the 13th century a holy woman named Milian came to Steyning to seek enlightenment and sanctity at the church founded by St Cuthman. The locals gave her a small hut in the churchyard, and the monks of Harham Priory, a few miles to the west, promised her bread and vegetables free of charge. Unfortunately Milian proved to be as quarrelsome and bad tempered as she was learned in the scriptures. She picked quarrels with any passing priest or monk, launched legal suits against vicars and bishops and generally made a nuisance of herself.

The problems she caused did not end when she died, they merely changed their nature. She no longer began law cases nor argued about obscure theological points. Instead her ghost took to appearing in church when the priest was preaching and expressing her disapproval. These days she does not appear so often and, when she does, merely flits about the churchyard.

6) Leave the church and turn left along Vicarage Lane. This road ends at a T-junction. Turn left along Jarvis Lane. This crosses the A283 to become King’s Barn Lane. Turn right into Roman Road and follow this road back to Bramber Castle.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Ghosts of Hollingbourne, Kent


Distance:            7 miles

Ghostly Rating        *****

Route:                Hollingbourne - Ringlestone - Hollingbourne

Map:                OS Explorer 148

Start/ Parking:        Hollingbourne, close to the church.

Public Transport        Hollingbourne is on the railway, though it is almost a mile from the station to the village.

Conditions:            This route is largely over quiet country lanes, with one lengthy stretch over a public byway.

Refreshments:        The haunted pub at Ringlestone offers good meals.

This is a hilly outing taking the walker over the rolling North Downs and dipping down into the valley of the Snagbrook. In places the hills can be steep, but they are not too demanding as the steepest sections are on country lanes where the tarmac surface makes for easy walking. The route offers magnificent views south over central Kent and west to Maidstone as well as some unusual and idiosyncratic phantoms.


The Walk

1) Park in Hollingbourne and make your way to the church.

Back in the mid 17th century Lady Grace Gethin was a noted young beauty among the local gentry in this part of Kent. Her devotion to God was as notable as her good looks and she regularly attended worship here at her parish church. One Sunday young Lady Grace suddenly leapt to her feet in the middle of the service, gave a strangled cry and collapsed in a faint. Anxious relatives and villagers clustered round, but it was some time before she regained her senses. When she did, Lady Grace explained that she had witnessed a vision so remarkable that the good folk of Hollingbourne carved the poor girl a beautiful tomb, inscribed with the story and set it up in the chancel of the church.

The tablet remains to this day and reads:
“She was vouchsafed in a miraculous manner an immediate prospect of her future blisse for ye space of two houres to ye astonishment of all about her and being like St Paul in an inexpressible transport of joy thereby fully evidencing her foresight of the heavenly glory in inconceivable raptures triumphing over death and continuing sensible to ye last she resigned her pious soul to God and victoriously entered rest.”
The next day Lady Grace died secure in the faith that her vision foretold her journey to heaven. 

Wherever her soul may have gone, her ghost returns occasionally to Hollingbourne. Her slight figure, wearing a straw bonnet and dressed in the height of fashion for the era when she live, walks slowly from the lychgate across the churchyard.

2) From the church, follow the main village street northward past the Dirty Habit pub and a crossroads. Continue straight on up a steep hill out of the village.

This hill is haunted by a phantom horseman, who trots along quite sedately as he rides up the hill. This is the phantom of a man named Duppa who lived in Hollingbourne House, at the top of the hill, in the 17th century. This particular ghost appears to be quite normal and solid when he is seen. There are no semi-transparent bodies to give away his spectral nature, nor does he ride in mid air. He can, however, be recognised by his hat with a broad, floppy brim and by his highly ornate spurs that jingle as he trots along. His ghostly nature becomes startlingly apparent when he reaches the gates of Hollingbourne House, where he vanishes into thin air.

This is an extract from GhostHunter Walks in Kent by Rupert Matthews

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Cerne Abbas Giant

Cerne Abbas is famous for its hill figure which dominates the surrounding countryside. It is of a naked, club-wielding giant with an erect penis. Inevitably the village has a variety of humourous souvenirs for sale which feature this rude figure in a number of guises. Giant apart, this is a charming village which was formerly the site of an ancient Benedictine Abbey and is still the site of extensive legends, folklore and, of course, ghosts.

The Walk

1) Park in the small car park above the village, off the A352, signed as Giant’s View. This spot offers a fine view across the valley to the Giant.

The great chalk figure of the Cerne Abbas Giant is best known for his startling and very obvious nudity. His erect manhood measures an impressive 23 feet in length. The giant wields a huge club over 120 feet in length. Unlike most other hill figures, this giant has eyes, eyebrows, mouth, ribs and other features accurately rendered, he is no mere outline drawing. It has been estimated that to cut away the turf to reveal the chalk would have meant excavating around 25 tons of material, as well as having the know-how to render accurately such a gigantic figure on a hillside. Clearly this was a major undertaking for somebody, but who?

There is no written record of the giant before the 1690s when he is mentioned in the records of the local church, but this is no clear evidence for its age. Until Cerne began to be used as a stop by the coaches on the new roads of the 18th century this was a remote area. Few gentlemen likely to record the giant would have come this way, and the locals would have known the giant far too well to comment on him. In 1754 a visiting doctor noted that the figure looked a bit like Hercules with his club, and that the lord of the manor provided food and drink every seven years for men to scour the figure and so keep it pristine.

Some suggested the giant was cut by the Club Raisers. This sturdy group of Dorset men organised themselves to drive off soldiers of either side in the Civil Wars of the 1640s. Their interest in politics or religion was slim compared to their determination to keep their crops for themselves. Lacking guns, these men carried clubs. This would certainly explain the giant’s club, but would not explain his ruder aspect. Others suggest that the giant was cut by Denzil Holles, a Parliamentarian commander in the Civil War, who owned land in Cerne and was known for his satirical writings. If the giant is a 17th century satire, his significance is lost. Other suggested culprits include the Romans, the Phoenicians, the Celts, King Alfred and the monks who once owned Cerne and had a beautiful abbey in the valley. In truth, nobody really knows how old this giant is nor for how many years he has been staring out across the valley of Cerne.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Video for the book Paranormal Surrey

You can watch the VIDEO HERE

Robin Hood and the Ghosts of Nottinghamshire

Nottingham aside, Nottinghamshire is not an urban county. The villages tend to be smaller than elsewhere, but more closely scattered over the countryside. And it is a countryside that is as varied as its geology. To the east are limestone hills that roll to the horizon, while Ollerton stands on a belt of wet clay and the centre of the county enjoys a free-draining sandy subsoil.

This is, of course, the county of Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood. Of the vast forests that once blanketed so much of the county, some extensive stretches remain, but they are now tamed by the Forestry Commission and private owners so that wolves, bears and bandits are but distant memories.

At least the living variety are gone, but spectral bandits are still to be found. At Edwinstowe stand two reminders of Robin Hood and his merry men. Just outside the village looms the Major Oak, the largest oak tree in England. The heart of the mighty tree has died away, leaving a cavity. Here, it is said, Robin Hood would hide when being chased by his arch enemy the Sheriff of Nottingham. Be that as it may, the area of forest around the tree is one of the more untouched in Nottinghamshire.

As well as being much as it was in the old days, it is also haunted by a certain “something”. Quite what this something might be depends on whom you talk to. One witness described the phantom as being a man standing some 7 feet tall and dressed all in green. Another likened it to a shambling bear. Whatever it is, it is very big, very heavy and absolutely terrifying.

The village church at Edwinstowe is reputed to have been the venue for Robin Hood’s marriage to Maid Marion. Whatever else Robin Hood did in Edwinstowe it is almost certain that he did not marry Maid Marion there. Disappointingly for the more romantically inclined, Maid Marion did not enter the legends of Robin Hood until the 16th century, some 250 years after Robin Hood probably lived in real life. Exactly who Robin Hood was has been the subject of much debate and scholarly dispute and, in truth, we shall probably never be entirely certain. What is fact is that the good folk of Nottinghamshire and southern Yorkshire believed by about 1420 that a famous and highly skilled outlaw named Robin Hood had been active in their area a little less than a hundred years earlier. In these first , the characteristics of Robin Hood are already in place. He lives in the forest with a band of other outlaws - including Little John, Will Scarlett and Much the Miller’s Son. He robs the rich, helps the poor and has an especial grudge against corrupt or dishonest officials. Maid Marion and links to Richard the Lionheart come much later.

Back at Edwinstowe, the church is reputedly haunted. The ghostly figure is said to lurk at the rear of the church, but who this man might have been in his human life is obscure.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Double Tragedy at Aconbury

Whatever one’s views on the causes of hauntings or the reality of ghosts, there can be no doubt that a number of the more active hauntings are linked to tragic deaths of one kind or another.

Some would hold that the massive emotional impact of the sad events have imprinted themselves on the surroundings and caused the hauntings. Others might maintain that the often sudden and always untimely nature of the deaths have kept the spirits of those involved chained to this earth to walk as spectres. The more cynical would suggest that brutal events are the sort of thing that get remembered by local people and can give rise to stories of ghosts when no such things exist.

Whatever one’s views, it must be admitted that the events that unfolded at Aconbury are typical of the type. Many years ago a young farmhand was in the habit of meeting his girlfriend in the small patch of woodland overlooking the church. There they could meet away from the prying eyes of their neighbours to whisper sweet nothings and discuss their future together.

Gradually, however, the girl came to believe that her lover was being untrue. Exactly how she came to form this impression is not known, but once the green eyed demon of jealousy had taken hold it came to consume her. Her boyfriend had only to talk to another woman after church for the girl to see it as evidence of his disloyalty. She confronted him with her suspicions, but his denials only served to confirm her in her views. After all, he would deny that he loved another, would he not? Especially if he were misleading the girl to keep her sweet.

She planned a bloody revenge. Taking an old hunting shotgun from her father’s farm she went to meet her lover in the woods. Again she demanded to know the truth, again he protested his innocence. Consumed by jealousy and anger she shot him dead. The gun blast brought villagers running, but the girl made no attempt to escape. She was suddenly overwhelmed by grief at what she had done. A second shot cut short her own life. By the time the villagers arrived, it was only to find two mangled corpses that needed burying.

Ever since that tragic double death the woods have been haunted by the lovers. They wander at peace with each other, obviously playing out happy memories of their early time together before the fatal jealousy took hold.

This is an extract from Haunted Herefordshire by Rupert Matthews