Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ghostly Monks at Bayham Abbey, Kent.

The beautiful ruins of Bayham Abbey stand almost on the border with Sussex, close to the village of Little Bayham. Lying, as they do, in the sheltered and heavily wooded valley of the River Teise, the ruins have a picturesque quality that makes them among the most charming in England.

The beauty of Bayham Abbey is no accident. In the late 18th century the ruins were made the centrepiece of a sprawling landscape garden by the famous designer Humphrey Repton, pupil of the great ‘Capability’ Brown. Repton did, however, have the sense not to alter the ruins themselves too much. The north transept, cloisters and a pair of chapels remain, but the rest of this once sprawling complex has been reduced to mere foundations.

Perhaps predictably the ghosts of Bayham are monks. There is nothing remotely threatening about these gentle ghosts. There are about a dozen phantom monks, who form up in procession to move around the cloisters and into what remains of the church. Moving in pairs, the monks walk up what was once the centre of the choir to the site of the high altar, where they vanish.

This impressive procession occurs only at dusk, or soon after darkness has settled on the ruins. The ghosts have no light of their own, so if they appear after dark they are seen only if the moon is out.

from HAUNTED PLACES OF KENT by Rupert Matthews.

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