Our patch of the countryside has its share of loitering spirits and ghostly legends. The stories shared by down-to-earth, country folk who are oft inclined to cynicism, which makes their recounting all the more chilling.
In the neighbouring village where I grew up the spirit of a desolate vicar was known to haunt the church. His only son had perished in an outbreak of cholera which claimed the lives of many villagers. The source of the outbreak was traced to the churchyard well and it was believed that the water had been contaminated by sewerage run off from the vicarage.
In the depths of guilt and despair, the vicar sealed the door to the chancel which he and his son had used. The door remains closed to this day, and only the vicar’s tormented spirit has passed through it since.
Following a spate of sightings in the early eighties (including an incident in which the church warden’s dog greeted and jumped up at an invisible being, resting its paws on apparent thin air) a service was conducted to offer our restless spirit forgiveness and eternal peace.
A more recent ghost is the headless airman who thumbs a lift on the road which passes alongside our farmland. Once a USAAF airfield, legend has it that if you glance in your rear view mirror as you drive across the ‘drome you may see him sitting behind you.
The lady from whom we brought this farm was a sharp, forthright sort with a no-nonsense outlook on life. She had purchased the land and the Tudor farmhouse from the War Ministry when the airfield was decommissioned, and she recounted to me that when viewing the property she had clearly seen the ghost of an American Airman hanging from the farmhouse rafters.
Whatever she saw that day must have seriously scared her because she demolished that farmhouse and built a new one further along the lane.
I could go on. It seems every pub in the nearest town has a resident spook… Cromwell’s mistress, a maid known as Nellie Ketteridge… and that’s before you travel on to the mansion house…
Take care out there people!