Thursday, 9 February 2012

Gentle Ghosts at Leeds Abbey, Kent

This is a gentle walk that takes in what must be the most scenically beautiful castle in England. The walk passes beneath the walls of the castle, as well as taking in the adjacent villages and exploring part of the valley of the River Len. The ghosts to be found here speak of the castle’s past, and of a now vanished structure that once dominated the upper Len Valley.

The Walk

1) Park in the high street of the village of Leeds, close to The George public house. The lane running beside the pub is George Lane.

Although there is nothing to show above ground today, this lane and the fields south of it was for some centuries the site of the Augustinian Priory from which the Abbey Farm takes its name. Excavations in the 1970s have shown that the buildings were extensive and reached beyond the field into the woods beyond. The Priory was founded in 1119 and dedicated to St Mary and St Nicholas. As with many other medieval religious houses, Leeds Priory was closed down by King Henry VIII during the Reformation, in 1539, and converted into a comfortable mansion for the local gentry. This house was demolished in the 1780s after it fell into disrepair, though one wall remained standing until the early 20th century.

Perhaps inevitably there has been talk about ghostly monks flitting around this field and the nearby woods. Although the stories are common, actual witnesses are rare so it is not entirely certain if this is a true haunting or just a dim memory of the days when monks really did walk the streets of Leeds.

from Ghosthunter Walks in Kent by Rupert Matthews

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