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Ghosts from Berkshire Places
Beginning with 'B'


In Bagley Wood there was a highwayman’s ghost, astride a white horse.


The Watermill Theatre is haunted by the ghost of a little girl who appears in one of the upstairs rooms. She may have been employed at the old fulling mill and have been killed when she got caught in the machinery.


There are several ghosts which frequent the area around the Barkham Road. The spectre of a white lady on a white horse appears out of the mists around Rectory Marsh and heads towards the parish church. A phantom headless soldier roams along the Barkham Road. Possibly he was one of the injured ex-servicemen who bought plots of land in the area from the Walter family after the Great War. A large black animal, probably the ubiquitous ‘Black Dog,’ has been seen lurking along the high brick wall on the same road by at least one pair of motorists. It was not the creature that was so bizarre, rather the sense of terror which came over both of them at the same instant.


Lady Fane, who lived in the splendid Basildon Grotto in the 1740s, was found drowned in a well within the house and her unquiet spirit is alleged to haunt the building. It used to appear before the fireplace in a certain room in the 1890s. More recent sightings have been of a silvery form moving up the staircase and brushing past observers at about four in the afternoon; or drifting across the lawn towards the river. The original story behind the haunting appears to have been lost. It has erroneously been said that Lady Fane was both the infamous ‘mistletoe-bow bride,’ suffocated on her wedding day, and that she was murdered by her husband. A member of the Women’s Land Army, stationed in the house in 1943, is recorded to have seen a ghost in the house, though she is thought to be a past serving girl rather than Lady Fane herself. A young woman with long copper-coloured hair, wearing a long pale green filmy ragged dress manifested herself at least twice and glid along a corridor towards the ‘blue bathroom’. Others have also seen her. The ghost always appears between October and January between nine and eleven in the evening.

Nobes was an eccentric farmer who had a fear of being molested after death, so he built a stone cell with a semicircular top, leaded to keep out the weather. His coffin was shut in and the key to the door thrown in to join him. However, the tomb was broken into and the lead stripped from the roof and there is little if anything left to see. The date on the door was 1692. Nobes ghost, riding his white horse, still haunts the Basildon Lanes nearby.

Basildon Rectory is haunted by a monk in a brown habit. Dogs are terrified of this restless spirit.

There is also the ghost of Nan Carey, the local witch. She is seen at midnight on the hill named after her.


A ghost haunts Foddehouse Copse where Roundheads tethered their horses. It is reputed to be a headless lady with eyes like saucers.


Billingbear House, now demolished, claimed a ghost of a lady in white. She had at one time been the lady of the house, but disappeared with it.


There is an old story that Lady Elizabeth Hoby beat her little son so severely that he died and all because he had blotted his writing book. Certainly Elizabethan parents were, by today’s standards, cruel to their children; certainly the little Hoby son died at an early age. Local legend has it that the Abbey is haunted by her repentant ghost. Bisham ‘Abbey’ was the manor house in the past and has the reputation for being the most haunted house in Berkshire, if not England. Read the full story.


A previous landlord, who died in the 1950s, is thought to haunt the Blueberry Inn. Late in the evening, his footsteps are heard exiting his old bedroom and descending to the bar, perhaps to lock up for the night.

The artist and sculptor, Mr. Langford Jones lodged in a cottage in this village while his own house was being prepared for him. It was haunted by a mischievous poltergeist which moved or threw things around. He saw a wash-basin fly across his room right in front of his eyes.

The New Inn is haunted by the ghost of a previous innkeeper called ‘Old Edwin’.

The old hillfort on Blewburton Hill is haunted by the ghost of an old hunter. He rides up the hill on his horse and suddenly disappears amongst a clap of thunder.


A house in the village is said to have been haunted by the ghost of a Cromwellian soldier.


If you scramble up the lane opposite ‘Chequers’ you will come to Huntsgreen Farm which has rather a charming ghost. The present owners have lived in this house for many years and they have nicknamed him ‘Horace’. Horace clutches you gently by the sleeve or skirt but does not attempt to detain you if you wish to go on. Apart from this possible evidence of loneliness, he appears quite harmless.

The barn at Lower Ownham Farm seems to house the ghost of ‘Old Tom’. According to a descendant of the Fisher family, once tenants of the farm, his name was Drewett and his family occupied the house long ago. One story says he hid his money in the barn and comes to search for it. Mrs Cook of Ownham has actually seen him. Apparently she went out to the barn to collect the eggs at dusk one evening and ‘Old Tom’ was sitting by a pile of timbers and junk. He was a small hunchbacked man in a brown waistcoat with brown buttons. “So clear I could have counted them” said Mrs. Cook. “I spoke to him,” she continued, “but he didn’t answer or move so I came in with the eggs. Then I went back, being curious, but he was gone.” Two other tenants of the farm have passed ‘Old Tom’ at dusk on their way indoors. Both spoke to him, but he made no reply and one home-comer remembered that he had not heard the gate close behind the apparent visitor, but it was locked in the morning as he had left it on coming in.

The cottage adjacent to Westbrook House is said to be haunted by one of the ‘chill & smell’ ghosts. A certain room begins to cool and grows rapidly colder whatever the size of the fire in it, and a very bad charnel smell pervades the room. Then the whole thing passes off leaving the room normal. Nothing is seen or heard, or even felt, except the intense cold.


The Old Manor, now a pub, was once one of only two buildings which made up Bracknell. They stood alone in the middle of Ascot Heath. In Tudor times, it was the home of a Catholic family who hid many persecuted priests in the secret ‘priest-hole’ now to be seen in the bar named after it. The spirit of one of these cowled figures has been seen several times around the building and has been nicknamed ‘Old Fred’. He seems to have been confused with another character, a regular at the pub in the early 1970s name Bert. He appeared soon after his death and was easily recognised by his large portly frame, his red-face and handlebar moustache, always wearing a chequered hat. Some say there is also a spirit of a young girl in the building.

South Hill Park is a beautiful red brick mansion constructed at the end of the 19th century, but incorporating part of an older house of  1760. It has an infamous reputation as a haunted house. There are constant unexplained bangings, wailings, rattling of keys, footsteps and cold rushes of air. Doors that always stick suddenly slam shut, lights come on by themselves and visitors have a sense that they are being watched. The main culprit is thought to be Major Rickman, the building’s owner, who, having exhaustive debts, shot himself in the gun-room (now the gents loo). However, some witnesses have had the feeling their ghost was that of a playful child. Others of a middle-aged man on the stairs, unsure of passing by the living. One explanation has it that the child or children died in a terrible fire in their nursery in the 1890s, and that the man on the stairs is the butler or footman who tried to save them. Others say that the phenomena are connected with a laundry maid was boiled to death during an accident in the kitchen.

Quelm Lane, where dogs will not walk, is said to be haunted by a phantom rider on a huge black horse. He is looking for small children who he will scoop up beside him, never to be seen again. The tale seem to indicate a Herne the Hunter type character, but Quelm Lane means ‘Hangman’s Lane’ and probably shows the ghost to be that of a criminal hanged on a local gibbet.

Several apparitions are said to have appeared to a family who lived at the ‘Old Farm’. Two ghostly little girls were seen both in the garden and elsewhere within the house. About eight years old, one had long hair done up in pigtails and wore a pale three-quarter length dress. An old woman also appeared on the stairs, leaning over the railing, as if looking for the children.

On the edge of Harmans Water, an old house called ‘Emblems’ once stood between A332 and Elizabeth Close. Built in 1890 as the Callingham Nursery, only a great Wellingtonia tree remains to remember its early horticultural history. It later came into the hands of an avid stamp-collector and when considerably extended, in 1928, it became named after a rare stamp watermark which held pride of place in the owner’s collection. Its symbolism even decorated the ornamental brickwork. In the 1960s and 70s the building was troubled by a number of spectral noises and sudden drops of temperature. The most notable manifestations were footsteps heard clearly by several witnesses on the landing, descending the stairs, and pausing before returning once more. This thought to be the mother-in-law of the stamp collector. In her old age, she became quite absent minded and would often begin to go downstairs, only to forget why she was doing so. Thus she returned whence she came.

The ‘Horse & Groom’ nearby is haunted by an old lady who was often seen upstairs in the 1960s. Her footsteps were also heard as she busied herself with household chores. The spirits cabinet also used to mysteriously unlock itself even after the lock was changed. This latter phenomenon may be related to an infamous murder which occurred at the inn in 1810.


During the Commonwealth, the sensational John Pordage was Vicar of Bradfield. In his time there were very queer goings-on at the Rectory, which became troubled with hordes of spirits, among them a huge fiery dragon with a tail eight yards long which engaged the rector in combat for several hours on end! One of the houses now incorporated into the college also had the reputation for being haunted.


Over the almshouses there is a statue of a man in white. When the church bell strikes midnight, he gets off his plinth and walks down to the river for a drink.

The ghost of a white lady is seen at the parish church. She was an eighteen-year-old servant-girl named Hetty Slack who got herself into trouble and subsequently drowned herself in the Thames at Bray Lock. Once two women were laughing and joking about the legend, near the girl's grave. Their laughs did not last long, for a tile mysteriously came crashing down from the church roof and smashed at their feet.


Braywick House is haunted by a white lady who walks in through the front door, up the stairs and into the attic. From here, she opens the east window and throws herself out! Her footsteps are often heard in the empty attic, but the suicide itself only re-enacted every seven years. There is also the ghost of an Elizabethan man there, dressed in a ruff with a pointed beard. He wanders around the typing desks and has also appeared on the stairs.

A more modern haunted site is the now demolished Shoppenhangers Manor Conference Centre at Maidenhead, built in 1915 though the site has been a manor since the 13th century. In 1971, during preparations for a dinner for a group of guests, a waiter was slightly perturbed at seeing the ghostly figure of a tall man in grey clothes glide across the landing on the first floor. On mentioning the incident to colleagues, he learnt that others had seen the spectre but usually at two in the morning. Some believe the figure is that of an elderly family retainer of Tudor days who was killed in a fall down the stairs.


The former 'The Marquis of Granby' pub at Holt in Brightwalton has several ghosts. They include a headless man standing in a neighbouring field; a man whose only clearly visible feature is his face; and a Victorian lady who walks through a now bricked up door. The last ghost has been seen by at least two separate customers. Mrs. White, granddaughter of a former innkeeper there, has seen both the headless man and the ‘man with a face’.


On stormy nights, a carriage taking a party of young people to a hunt ball in Newbury were driving down Brimpton Lane going via Abel Bridge. But the old wooden bridge had been swept away in the storm. The carriage and horses plunged into the river and all the occupants were drowned. A ghostly carriage and pair is said to travel down Brimpton Lane on a certain night in January. Often only the screams of the passangers and the whinnying of the horses being heard. The ghost of a girl searching for her lover is said to haunt a certain cottage in the village, but she has not been seen for some time.


The ghost of a white lady haunts the manor.


The village acquired notoriety in eth early 18th century when Frances Winchcombe, eldest daughter of Sir Henry Winchcombe, married Henry St. John (later Lord Bolingbroke) in 1701. Two years afterwards, she inherited the manor and the rising politician and his beautiful wife entertained lavishly. Dean Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot and, probably, Queen Anne were among their guests. This happy period was short-lived. By 1713, Lord Bolingbroke had deserted his wife and he fled to France in 1715 to escape impeachment. It is said that she died of a broken heart. Lady Bolingbroke’s unhappy ghost is said to drive through the village in a coach drawn by the four black horses, often seen near the old fishponds, and on one night of the year she sits in the drawing-room of the Old Vicarage.

An evil spirit is said to waylay nocturnal travellers and chase them down the Devil’s Steps at Hawkridge.

What is described as a ‘grisly apparition’ appears in broad daylight on the isolated common called Bushnell’s Green.

A lady in white flits along the Oak Avenue near the Beenham turning on the Common.

Two phantom monks have been seen near the medieval fishponds on the Common. They were constructed for the Abbot of Reading who owned the manor.

Mad Kitty’s Pond is said to be haunted, presumably by Mad Kitty!

Burchetts Green

The story of ghostly druids at Burchetts Green House garden was first revealed by the owner around 1960, having heard it from the villagers. This is on the of St. Davids pilgrimage route from London, where it went through Maidenhead (St. Mark’s Road, Farm Road through to the Thicket, Burchetts Green, up Ashley Hill, through Warren Row to Henley, Oxford and thence Wales). One wonders if perhaps the ghosts of hooded pilgrims have been mistaken for druids.

The farmers ploughing the field west of Green Lane near Boundary Elm claim that the ghost of a headless Roman Centurion rushes down from Ashley Hill. He disappears into the ground near Boundry Elm.

Students at Hall Place claim to have seen a coach and horse crossing the lawn at the back of the house. The ghost of a coloured servant has also been seen at Black Horse Lodge.

A member of the local archaeological society once saw the ghost of what appeared to be a Saxon man skulking around the bushes in his garden at Burchetts Green. When the society investigated, they found some Saxon pottery in a nearby field, along with much early British material: pots and a low flint wall and a wheel. Perhaps they had they found the dead man’s farm.

Burchetts Green Lane is haunted by a tax collector, named, Bogey Todd, who was beaten to death by the villagers.

Claude Duval is said to haunt the area. He may be the same as the ‘phantom horseman’ who is seen on Maidenhead Thicket.

Woodlands House is also said to be haunted.


    © Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.