Visit England’s most haunted place for Halloween.
Supernatural spookiness is not just for Halloween in this English village.
Everyone has a ghost story, but in the small southern English town of Pluckley, they have more than their share. The British Isles are renown for their ghouls and supernatural activity, but the boast of this village in Kent, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records (1998), as being England’s most haunted village, with over twelve resident ghosts is quite a claim.
Pluckley, Is this England’s Most Haunted Village?
Despite the spooky declaration of being full of the undead, the pretty village shouldn’t be missed for it offers several historical buildings, good pubs, and is a great centre for cycling.
Where is the World’s Most haunted Place?
Pluckley is found on the edge of the North Downs, perfect cycling country and overlooks the rolling chalk hills and ancient forests of the ‘Andredsweald’, England’s South Coast. Although only a small village, it is easily accessible from London Bridge with trains hourly. Peculiarly, although the carriage was quite busy, we were the only occupants to alight onto the platform at Pluckley, and as the train pulled away and disappeared into the distance, felt a little abandoned in the lengthening shadows.
Luxury Dining with Spooks
Strolling past the quiet railway station you come upon the somewhat startling solidly built Dering Arms Inn. Built in the 1840’s, originally as a hunting lodge for the rich Dering Family Estate, it is fortress looking with its Dutch scalloped gables and arched windows. Reportedly connected by a series of dank dark tunnels to other parts of the Estate and haunted by an elderly woman, it is now an expensive restaurant, but in the silence of the dark afternoon, it almost seemed to warn, “All ye who enter give up hope now.”
Historic Hauntings of the Famous?
However, all these apparitions of previous lives are not out of place here in this countryside of history, for it was in Kent that Julius Caesar alit in 55 BC with an invasion force of 10,000 soldiers. Other personalities who have passed through or made their mark include William the Conqueror, Napoleon, King Henry the 8th and his wives, Anne of Cleaves and Anne Boleyn, Winston Churchill and countless World War 2 RAF pilots who protected England in the skies above in the Battle of Britain.
The Unexplained or Fake News?
Searching for a place to eat we chose the excellent 15th century Black Horse Pub. Its mullioned windows, low-beamed ceiling, blazing fireplace and a scattering of antiques is attractive. After a full afternoon of cycling around the area’s green fields and valleys, I ate a delicious meal amongst the pint drinking locals, who I ensured were of this world (and not spirits drinking spirits!) by pinching one. Well not really, although I was tempted after hearing so many spirit stories. “Yes, it is a bit of a burden here to live amongst so many of the wandering dead,” said a respectable looking gent but when pressed about being England’s most haunted village, he declined to give his interpretation of the spooky occurrences.
Many residents around here seem to have a ghost tale, although due to journalists and other more undesirable elements hanging around in Halloween time, most are a little reticent to share them, and for sure the ghoulish reputation must be a pain to many. Explanations for the hauntings range from the cynical to the supportive, with some believing the extremely dense swirling fogs that lurk in narrow hedged lanes and quite common in Kent, are to blame, whilst others put faith to the idea of “ley” lines (“Pluck-ley” being set on one) being central to the unexplained due to strong cosmic forces.
England’s Most Haunted Village – Spooky or Set up?
Cycling up the road, the centre of the small town is quite unassuming with a convenience store and a few other shops, give or take a few more oak-beamed thatched homes. I soon came upon the “Greystones”, an odd chunk shape of a house, which is supposedly patrolled by a ghostly monk, then continued by St. Nicholas Church (the parish register dates from 1560). Here the brass rubbings on the floor hark back pictorially to the age of the Crusades and it is claimed an ethereal red lady and black dog often visit the church on ghostly excursions.
Close by is the Blacksmith’s Arms Pub, (opened in 1687) where poltergeist activity occurs, and which today had a sign out advertising “Tuesday Quiz Nights”. In fact, on my two kilometre walk to put my bags down I went by so many places that have had visits from the grave, they are just too numerous to list. Let’s just say there are enough screaming phantoms, muttering old apparitions, wandering cavaliers, frothing dogs, poltergeists, and even a racing coach and horses (last seen in the mid 1990’s) to keep a Hollywood horror writer out of the red for a lifetime.
“I don’t believe in ghosts,” I said, faintly.”
“Some people can’t see the colour red. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
Sue Grafton | M is for Malice
The Devil at the Crossroads
That night, in the blackened late hours, my friend and I walked home past the empty crossroads, the unlit cottages and several 17th century Tudor homes from another time. The wind whistled through the trees, making them screech uncannily.
Unfortunately, despite wandering the couple kilometres back to our B&B (a place investigated by the Centre of Psychic Research) in the pitch dark, we still didn’t feel any malevolent presence or have any spooky sightings.
Nevertheless, despite this disappointing absence of the paranormal it is still a good area to bike or walk with the many undulating hillside rambles (some from Chaucer’s era) to choose from.
It also makes an ideal holiday location, being close to Ashford (which has fast Eurostar train connections to Paris), and less than 20km from Canterbury and its famous (also haunted) Cathedral where Thomas Becket met a bloody end in 1170. Canterbury hosts an October festival every year, which brings visitors flocking in, many dressed in medieval costumes and hosts wonderful ghost walks through the ancient city every weekend. As well, with Kent County’s moniker being “the garden of England”, there are enough stately manors, castles, and churches to fill your time up and you might even fit in a museum visit featuring Kent’s famous son, Charles Dickens, just in time to brush up on the ghosts in his “A Christmas Carol”.
So if you decide to visit, Ex-spectre really good time!
English Ghosts to Find!
Keen on catching up on the unexpected and unexplained, Take advantage of the hourly trains running from London (London Bridge) to visit Pluckley before starting our London to Oxford self guided cycle tour! It is an easy 45min journey.
Our bike trips in England run from April to October from London or Oxford.