Friday, 9 March 2012

A famous ghostly vicar in Dorchester, Dorset

One of the best recorded ghosts in Dorset haunts, or perhaps haunted, St Peter’s Church in High West Street. The ghost first appeared in dramatic fashion on Christmas Eve 1814. The popular and long-serving vicar, Reverend Nathaniel Templeman, had passed away a few months earlier and the new vicar had left the task of decorating the church for Christmas Day to his sexton, Ambrose Hunt and warden, Clerk Hardy.

The two men were skilled and dedicated, so after some hours of work in the chilly church they had a fine display ready for the parish’s devotions the following day. The two men were understandably tired, so they decided to refresh themselves with a glass of the communion wine that they knew to be in the vestry. They poured themselves a generous glass each and retired to sit down on a pew to enjoy the drink.

At that moment the ghost of the Rev. Templeman suddenly appeared coming towards them. The phantom was obviously angry, waving his fists and mouthing as if shouting, though no sound could be heard. As the ghost drew close, Hardy collapsed in a faint. Hunt threw himself to his knees and began recounting the Lord’s Prayer. The ghost paused, then turned aside and drifted off down the North Aisle, where it vanished. As soon as the ghost had gone, Hunt leapt to his feet and fled into the night. He barged into a nearby inn and gabbled out his story. A few of the more intrepid souls in the bar hurried to the church. They found the unfortunate Hardy lying unconscious on the floor and the two glasses of communion wine overturned, but of the ghost there was no sign.

The ghostly vicar is said to have returned several times since, always in apparent anger. But none of these reports are as well attested as that of the sexton and warden. They, after all, knew the dead man well and encountered his ghost at a range of only 10 feet or so. They were adamant about what they had seen and never changed their story.

from HAUNTED PLACES OF DORSET by Rupert Matthews

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