All posts in Haunted Churches

Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. Edinburgh

Ghost hunting this Halloween with Haunted Island

A couple of years ago my partner and I went to Edinburgh for the weekend.

We did a few of the touristy things and decided to go and find the statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby.

We found it and were rather unimpressed with it, So we decided to go and have a look in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard right next to the statue. I had seen this place on a programme like Most Haunted or similar years ago but completely forgot that the place was meant to be haunted.

We wondered around the churchyard for a while, It’s actually quite a pleasant place to visit, Its like a little oasis of calm in the middle of the noisy city, After about 20 minutes or so we decided it was time to leave and find a pub.

When we got out of the churchyard I was surprised to discover 4 small scratches on my right hand, They were fresh and still bleeding, I had not scraped my hand on anything, We had stayed on the path, I didn’t touch anything the whole time we were there, After a minute or so I shrugged it off and thought oh well, I must have scraped it on something, And off we went to the pub.

Once we had got a drink we went to sit down and I realised the whole lower half of my body felt freezing cold, The top half of my body was a normal temperature, There were no breezes coming from anywhere and it was a blazing hot day outside, A rarity for Scotland. After w few minutes my body temp went back to normal but I was spooked by the whole thing.

When we got home I decided to do some research on Greyfriar’s and discovered that hundreds of people have reported being attacked by an unseen entity in the last few years, The entity is believed to be the spirit of George Mackenzie, Also known as Bloody Mackenzie, One time Lord Advocate during the rule of Charles ii and also considered one of the most vicious religious persecutors in history, Most of the attacks are reported to take place in an area of the churchyard known as the covenantors prison, Which is not open to the public but we had stood just outside the entrance to it, But attacks have been reported in other areas of the churchyard too.

A couple of days after we got back, My son, (who was 12 at the time) told me that for the past 3 nights, He had seen the silhouette of a man in a hat on his bedroom wall at night, We had not mentioned any of what happened to him so as not to scare him, But it left me wondering if I had bought an unwanted souvenir back home with me!

Thankfully he never mentioned it again.

— Submitted by Haunted Island Reader

Robin Hoods Grave, Kirklees. Yorkshire

Does Robin Hoods Grave lies at Kirklees Park Estate, West Yorkshire,

Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw in English folklore, and, according to legend, was also a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Does an unmarked grave in Kirklees wood hold the remains of one of Englands greatest heroes… Robin Hood

“The Armytage family lived over the brow of the hill on a splendid site once occupied by Cistercian nuns. It was called Kirklees. There was more than an insularity which set the mansion apart. There was a mystery about it which local people only reluctantly tried to penetrate. The mystery was helped physically by the thick shroud of trees that surrounded the place and was sustained by local tales of ghosts of prioresses and nuns and or the death of Robin Hood whose grave is so imperturbably marked as lying within Kirklees grounds in spite of any facts which might suggest to the contrary.”
THE LAND OF LOST CONTENT.

This would appear to be the first reported mention of ghostly activity around Robin Hood’s Grave, but considering the history of Robin’s death; cursed by a witch on his way to the nunnery, murdered by an apostate nun and cast into an unhallowed grave which is on the crossing of ley lines; it is hardly surprising that the site is reputed to have unquiet spirits hovering around.

Contemporary Ghostly Accounts

An elderly lady, Mrs Edith Ellis, witnessed silver arrows in the sky above Kirklees when visiting her old aunt at Hartshead in the early years of the last century. She also reports hearing Robin calling for Marian. Another sighting was made by a tenant farmer of Kirklees in 1926. One day,” he recalls, “I was sitting on the grave shooting rabbits. As I was about to shoot I felt a tap on my shoulder, and my shotgun went off accidentally, removing two of my front teeth on its recoil. There was nobody to be seen at the time.

On another occasion I was on my way home from the Three Nuns. As I was walking through the woods something fell out of a tree and knocked me to the ground. When I got up I could see the old gatehouse. In the window I could clearly see a man with a bow. My family always said it was the drink, but it was Robin Hood’s ghost.”
In 1963 guitarist Roger Williams took an unofficial stroll up to Robin’s grave with a friend. About twenty yards from the grave he saw a white robed woman who suddenly seemed to glide towards the two men. What made Roger’s hair stand on end was how silently she moved over the twigs and bracken. At about five yards from Roger the woman stopped and stared at him with “dark, mad eyes.” Then she moved away and vanished. It was 2.30 p.m. and a bright,sunny day.

Roger Williams saw the same apparition again in 1972, in full daylight, and again she stopped a few yards from him and his companion. This time Roger remembered a few more details. The woman was wearing a long white dress with a square neck and long sleeves which accords with the habit of a Cistercian nun. Again she looked at him angrily before moving off, but the eerie sequel to this experience was that Roger’s house then experienced a series of strange noises and bangings. After this, Roger swore that “wild horses would not drag me up there again.”

Mark Gibbons, a member of the Yorkshire Robin Hood Society, had a similar experience in 1998. With other members of the group he had gone up to try and find Robin’s grave one moonlit night, but they had got lost in the dark, tangled wilderness of the Kirklees woods Suddenly Mark saw a white figure pointing in a certain direction which turned out to be exactly where the grave was situated. Mark however was too unnerved to continue and fled back to the roadside while his companions continued their quest.

Famous Investigators

A later explorer to Kirklees, vampire hunter Bishop Sean Manchester, had a similar experience when he was confronted with a “wild staring hag with red eyes” and his fellow vampire hunters deserted him, one of them becoming impaled on a bramble bush.

It is true that Robin’s grave was excavated in an amateurish way by a Victorian Armytage (who was reputed to be in his cups at the time) and the ground beneath found to be undisturbed, but the many historical documents naming Kirklees as Robin’s final resting place cannot be ignored.

The fact is, his bones could lie anywhere on that hillside, while a gravestone resembling the original one drawn by Dr Johnstone, is to be found in nearby Hartshead churchyard, to where it may have been moved during the Civil War. Many visitors to the grave have recorded their experiences for posterity, including the following quote from a Victorian tourist :

“I had the strangest emotions when I first stood over the grave of this old forest hero. I stood there and had no words, nor can I find any now to tell what my feelings were. Bravehearted Robin ! Thou hast found a fit resting place in this glorious park, among these solemn yews and silent trees .”

A hundred years later it is a different story:

“There it was, looming out of the dark, a massive,broken edifice, a huge ship of stone, wrecked in the everglades of Kirklees. Fallen pillars and twisted railings were were all that remained on Yorkshire’s buried treasure. We had found Robin Hood’s Grave.” – MARK GIBBONS, SECRETS OF THE GRAVE.

Feature Length Interview : Robin Hood’s Grave Revisited with David Farrent

Maybe the last word should be with Victorian poet, George Searle Phillips, a friend of the Brontes, who visited the grave in 1848, and wrote an epic poem, a small section of which is printed below :

Tread lightly o’er the earth and speak no word
Till the Great Spirit doth unloose your tongues
For where those yew trees nod their funereal plumes
Upon the highest platform of the hill,
Lies gentle Robin Hood, his mighty heart
All muffled up in dust and his bright eyes
Quenched in eternal darkness. Never more
Shall the woods echo to his bugle horn,
Or his unerring arrow strike the deer
Swift flying, till it hits the bloody grass.

Haunted Island would like to thank the Author of this story Barbara Green for her valuable contribution.

RAAF Ghost, Langham. Norfolk

Does the Ghost of Royal Australian Air Force Flight sergeant haunt the church at Langham in Norfolk?

In June 1996, my wife (who is an American) and I went for weekend trip to Norfolk to escape London. We had a marvellous few days there. The weather was fine and the beaches uncrowded. We decided to drive along the back roads away from the coast to see what we could find.

We stopped at a small place called Langham, and went to have a look at the little church there. It was open and nobody was around. We went inside and, by the altar. saw a thrush fluttering about, looking for a way out. Amy walked back down the aise to open the door and I tried to guide the bird towards it. She opened the door and came face-to-face with a young man dressed in a dark blue uniform. He stood looking at her for a moment, smiled, the vanished. She thought she was hallucinating, but she was able to describe his face and his uniform in some detail. She distinctly recalled the half-wing and the letter “O” above his breast pocket, and that his tunic was dark, like a sailor’s, and that he had stripes and a crown on his sleeve.

Amy knew nothing about military uniforms, and less still about those worn by the British. When we arrived home a day or so later, I showed her photos of RAF uniforms, but the blue was the wrong shade. She later positively identified the uniform of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the rank of flight sergeant. The “O” was a brevet work by observers (later navigators). RAF Langham was once home to 455 Squadron on the RAAF. The observer’s badge was superceded in 1942 and 455 Squadron occupied Langham in 1944. Perhaps the soul she saw was a long-serving airman, or perhaps he served with an RAF squadron early in the war. It’s a tantalising mystery but I have no doubt that she saw what she claimed to have seen. She is a very level-headed woman, not given to flights of fancy.

The clincher for her was Heather and Geoff, our friends and neighbours, both of whom served for many years with the RAF. Heather was a believer and told Amy she’d seen the spirit of a dead flyer who was likely doing what he enjoyed in life: enjoying the sights and sounds of an English summer’s day. Heather thought that the young man died a violent death and that perhaps he didn’t know that he had passed on. Whatever the case may be, I hope he finds rest.

Haunted Island Reader Submission

Haunted Minsden Chapel, Hertfordshire

Minsden Chapel is haunted by a ghost of a phantom monk, who makes his appearance on Halloween

Laying isolated and in a state of complete ruin Minsden Chapel has been a place of worship and odd occurrences since the 14th century.

The Chapel can be found in the hamlet of Chapelfoot, near Preston, in Hertfordshire. Partly surrounded by a small wood, it is only accessible only by foot, the under growth can be heavy going at times.

Misden Chapel was built in the 14th century, and over the next three hundred years was used for a whole range of religious ceremonies. In the 18th century the masonry became too unstable and large sections of the structure began to fall away this posed a real danger to the general public and visitors to the chapel and all activities were forced to a halt..

Paranormal Connections

The paranormal history to the chapel is long and varied. There are legends that tell of ghosts and apparitions, in particular that of a monk who has been seen climbing a staircase that crumbled away hundreds of years ago. It is also reported that best chances of witnessing this ghost is midnight on Halloween (31st October).

Many other people have reported hearing music hanging in the air around the chapel whilst others have heard the ghostly bells tolling in the depths of the night which were apparently stolen in the 1700’s The ghost of a murdered nun is said to haunt the grounds around the chapel and the spirit of a robed monk in white has been seen high up in the archways above some of the collapsed ruins. A ghost of a small child has been seen and there are rumors of secret tunnels that lead away from the chapel, perhaps in relation to Temple Dinsley, Knights Templar Manor and Temple.

Recent Investigation

Last year Almost Haunted TV ran a paranormal video investigation in to Minsden Chapel this 6 part video series goes in to the chapels history and the paranormal activity reported there.

Borley Rectory. Essex

The strange unexplained phenomenon at Borley rectory during the 1920s and 1930s

The strange unexplained phenomenon at Borley rectory during the 1920s and 1930’s are probably among the most famous in England.

Built for the Reverend H.D.E Bull 1863, Borley was constructed on the site of a Benedictine Monastery. Both the Reverend Bull and his son Harry passed away in Borley’s ‘Blue room’ which was reported to be the most haunted spot in the house. Famously Harry Price leased the Rectory for a year so he could conduct his investigations with a team of researchers.

The results of his detailed and lengthy investigation were published in ‘The Most Haunted House in England’. In 1885, there were sightings of a ghostly nun at the rectory. She was believed to be the ghost of a 13th century Nun from a nearby convent who fell in forbidden love with a monk from the local monastery.

They paid a high price for their affair – the monk was hanged, and the Nun walled up inside the convent. In 1900, two sisters of the then owner Harry Bull, reportedly saw the Nun one day in the gardens. She has also appeared to many local people. A phantom coach and horses has also been seen in the vicinity of the Rectory. Mysterious footsteps, doorbells ringing have also been heard by visitors.

Poltergeist phenomena have also been experienced and recorded at the haunted building. Smashed glasses and stone throwing, mysterious writing on the walls and people being thrown from their beds by an unearthly force have all been reported. In 1939 Borley was destroyed by a fire and the ruin was finally demolished completely in 1944.

70 plus years on and Borley Rectory in Essex is once again hitting the public imagination,  specifically Ashley Thorpe’s who will be realeasing in 2012, his film The true story of ‘Borley Rectory – The Most Haunted House in England’. based upon the incidents and recorded expereinces of the renowed psychic investigator Harry Price.

Borley Rectory Teaser Trailer from Ashley Thorpe on Vimeo.