Ghosts from Berkshire Places
Beginning with 'S'
The Duke’s Head was haunted by
mysterious figures in one of the upstairs bedrooms during the 1920s. The
atmosphere there was also found to be overly oppressive. Fifty years
later, a phantom drinker was seen a number times in the bar: a small man
in a black coat and trilby. The observers later discovered this was an old
regular who had died quite recently.
A publicity photograph taken in
Rackstraws’ Farm, now a restaurant, was found to have a ghostly skull
clearly visible within an old fireplace, though there was nothing there at
the time the picture was taken!
An alley at Shalford is known as
‘Nun’s Walk’ because of the ghost which frequents the area.
blue lights have been seen from time to time in the attic and upper
windows of Shaw House. And screams are sometimes heard at midnight coming
from a tunnel supposedly leading Donnington
Castle. This is alleged to be
a maid from the house who was killed when the tunnel collapsed.
This tiny village was the home of
old Mother Barnes, the midwife who was called to attend the birth of a
noble child at a mysterious grand house, some eight miles away. Upon the
child’s arrival, the Lord who blindfolded the old woman and brought her
hence, cast the babe into the roaring fireplace! Later investigations
revealed this to have been Wild Will Darrel, Lord of Littlecote Park (in
adjoining Wiltshire). His family connections allowed him to escape a
murder charge, but it is said that he was later killed in a fall when a
vision of a burning baby frightened his horse. His mounted ghost, with
severed head hanging gruesomely, still appears at the spot where he died.
It has since become known as ‘Darrell’s Stile,’ at the point where
the Hungerford-Wantage road crosses the old Ermin(e) Way.
A young girl from the days of the
Civil War haunts Callins Bridge. She was the youngest of a coven of
sisterly witches who had renounced the black arts and turned to the
Christian faith. Although only about sixteen years of age, with a posy of
flowers in her hands, the girl is said to wait for her lover, a Royalist
soldier returning home on leave. She paces the approaches to the bridge in
her long yellow and white dress and with dishevelled long black hair. This
sad figure was murdered there by a group of Roundheads fleeing a nearby
skirmish. If you follow the girl’s ghost, she will show you the graves
of those killed in the clash.
A ghostly carriage is sometimes seen
down Hollow Lane.
The spirit of a bearded man has been
seen near the parish church.
Around 1920-30, it was the custom of
Miss Morse of the Old School Cottage (Watchfield) to fetch the milk, daily
in the late afternoon, from a farm at Shrivenham. She was returning with
her sisters from such an expedition in the dusk of a winter's afternoon.
As they approached Maiden's Well, they saw a misty white figure close to
them, carrying what appeared to be a lamp in each hand. They all saw this
apparition, but were too startled to approach it. As they looked at it, it
slowly vanished. Several other people in the village had seen the same
thing from time to time. It was supposed to be the ghost of a man named
Jefferies who used to work on the Squire's Barn premises and who drowned
himself in a pond by Squirrel Copse years before.
A lady viewing a house in this
hamlet was once treated to the apparition of a group of men in Quaker
style dress, though her husband saw nothing.
The bridge is haunted by the ghost
of a white hare. This was said to be the spirit of the corn and was
unlucky if seen. Farmers would always cross the bridge in twos if it was
late at night.
In 1396, the seven year old daughter
of King Charles VI of France, Princess Isabella, married King Richard II
of England. After his deposition in 1399, she was kept a prisoner at
Sonning Bishop’s Palace in the charge of Richard Metford, Bishop of
Salisbury, until 1400. In this year, the Earls of Huntingdon, Salisbury
& Kent tried to put Richard back on the throne. The Queen was told so
at Sonning, but it was not to be. Her ghost still haunts the lower regions
of Holme Park where the palace stood and also the towpath beside the
Thames where she once took her daily walk.
A Victorian house in Brockenhurst
Road has an oppressive atmosphere and the dog of a past occupant was
terrified of something in the kitchen. Its door could never be kept shut.
There are confused stories of a child dying in the building under
A silent post-chaise drawn by two
white horses has been seen in Woodlands Ride by two walkers and their
terrified dog. It was driven by a man in a cravat and carried a lady
wearing in a crinoline. A little white dog ran along behind. The same area
is haunted by a ghostly man.
Stories of hauntings at the
magnificent old moated manor here were rife before the building was pulled
down in the 1920s, though they seem to have been somewhat confused.
Some say it was the ghost of a previous
occupant, perhaps Sir George Cobb who drowned in the moat in 1762. In one
version, the phantom is a headless wraith who walks at night. In
another, the ghost is that of a friar. The most elaborate tale tells of a
lady on a white horse crossing the drawbridge over the moat every night at
midnight. The spirit
actually appears to have been that of the Sir John
Blagrave, the house’s
builder. He died at Southcote in 1611 and his apparition was being seen
there only fifty years later. Read the full
The ghost of William Field caused so
much trouble at his farm, after he hanged himself in 1804, that about
fifty years later, he was put to rest by a collection of eleven priests.
Two villagers hid in the barn to observe the proceedings and luckily for
them, when asked if the priests would give the spirit the ‘mice in the
straw’ or the ‘cock on the dung-hill,’ they chose the latter. Read
the full story.
Near the church is ‘Our Lady
Well’ known locally as a wishing well. It is said that a ghost has been
The ghost of a ‘lovely white lady
on horseback,’ all in white, rides around this hamlet. She crosses the
main road, before shocked motorists, along a forgotten bridleway and
disappears out of sight. The agriculturalist, Jethro Tull, died at
Prosperous Farm here, but his ghost is inexplicably said to haunt Midgeham.
The Boot Inn is reputedly haunted by
a man who hanged himself in its orchard. Doors and draws are said to open
and close mysteriously at times.
The old rectory is said to have a
A shrouded woman is said to walk in
Jennet’s Wood at midnight.
the Hanney Road that leads to Steventon some phantom horses haunt the
road. They appear galloping across the road and then suddenly disappear.
the last corrupt days of monasticism at Reading Abbey, one of the monks
entered into an illicit affair with a sister from a nunnery near Streatley.
The two would meet for wild nights of passion at the ‘Bull Inn’ in the
village. Soon discovered, they were both slain on the spot and buried
beneath two huge yew trees outside. On warm summer nights, they rise again
and walk hand-in-hand through the pub garden.
Elizabethan farmhouse, once Place Manor Farm, is haunted by a lady in
white. She is supposed to be the ghost of a shepherd’s wife careering
round the garden in her night-dress.
The riverside is haunted by the spirit of a large white cat which jumps out at pasers-by.
There is a local legend that a
‘phantom horseman’ all in white rides the forest lanes at night and
disappears into Maidenhead Thicket with a thundering of hooves. Some say
he is Dick Turpin, others Captain Hawkes; or perhaps it is Claude Duval
who is said to haunt nearby Burchetts Green.
The ghost of a Victorian Lord of the
Manor, Mortimer George Thoyts was seen in the old churchyard shortly after
his death in 1870. The adjoining Meales Farm was once haunted by a ghostly
figure who crossed the fields towards Brazenhead Farmhouse. It was thought
to be the spirit of John Wickens, an 18th century farmer from Meales who
married the daughter of the Brazenhead household. The ground floor of the
latter house was also haunted by a ghost, that of a little woman in a
white gown. Perhaps she was John’s wife.
The lower lane below the park at
Sulhamstead House is said to be haunted by a headless figure, gender
In Victorian times, a girl was run
down by a cart and killed in the lane between Sulhamstead Abbots and Ufton
Nervet. Since then, on November evenings, the sound of the invisible cart
and horses has been heard coming up behind walkers near the spot where the
A ghostly figure was seen by the
occupant of ground floor flat in an old Victorian house in Sunningdale. It
was mauve and fluorescent and glided across the floor. The pet dog in the
room also saw the apparition and whimpered in its basket.
Doris Stainer, the sister of the
film-star, Leslie Howard, ran the old Hurst Lodge school for girls. She
lived in a house in the grounds and, after her death, her ghost in her
blue cardigan, was seen sitting on her bed.
The actress, Diana Dors lived at
Sunningdale and recorded a number of ghostly happenings at her house,
‘The Pavilion’. A man in grey was seen by one guest to enter his room
and hide behind the door. Upon being reproached, the ghost stepped forth
once more before disappearing. He was also seen by the visitor’s
daughter and is thought to have been a previous occupant of the house, a
pianist who committed suicide. In the same room, the bedclothes would
often be found on the floor, despite it having been empty over night.
There were mysterious knockings on doors and rooms in which dogs refused
to stay. Ms. Dors believed the house to have been built upon some sort of
monastic site, for she often heard the trudge of sandled feet and the
celestial singing. Another guest actually saw a man in long robes and
Diana Dors’ widower, Alan Lake,
bought Orchard Manor and his housekeeper claims to have seen the
actress’s ghost there on a number of occasions. Mr. Lake also appeared
to her after his own death.
The Berystede Hotel is a grand
mansion, built on the site of a previous home of the Standish family. The
old house was burnt down on 27th October 1886 and Mrs. Standish’s French
maid, Eliza Kleininger, was killed in the blaze. Her charred remains were
discovered at the bottom of the servants’ stairs, amongst the sad
remains of the jewellery box she had been trying to save. Her ghost –
known as the ‘Lady in Blue’ – still walks around the replacement
building, particularly under the main gable of the north side of the
house, where the staircase was.
A much altered 18th century cottage
in the village is apparently haunted by the ghost of a woman who crosses
the drawing-room and disappears straight through a solid wall. One lady
who lived in the house saw the mysterious woman, in the middle of the
night, sitting at a table in the room before she dematerialised. At
friend’s house, years later, she was certain that she met the same woman
in real life!
At a point in Sunninghill Park, on a
bridle path near the A332, several witnesses have reported hearing the
clear sounds of heavy horses hooves approaching in the night. Yet nothing
is ever seen.
Sutton Courtenay has several old
legends about two characters who have become much confused. A ghoulish
phantom which haunts Hell-corner is said to be Doctor Sherwood who rides a
white horse at full pelt with an open razor in his hand seeking
prospective victims. It seems somewhat more likely that this is really the
evil Daniel Grimshaw who was executed for the murder of his young child in
March 1825. He, however, who was usually associated with Hobbyhorse Road.
A 15th century house in the village
is haunted by an invisible presence which leaves an upstairs room and his
heard to descend the staircase. Crossing another room, it stops at a
cupboard where ‘scuffling’ occurs.
In 1719, Swallowfield Park was purchased by Governor Thomas ‘Diamond’ Pitt using the proceeds of his famous ‘Regent’ diamond (now in the Louvre Museum in Paris). He had swindled a poor African slave into giving up the stone, after the unfortunate man had managed to smuggle it out of the mine, hidden in an open wound. Pitt was afterwards harassed by the slave’s angry spirit, which manifested itself to him at Swallowfield. Today, the park is haunted by a cavalier who sits on the bridge over the River Blackwater at Twilight. One witness felt strange and eerie upon seeing the phantom and her dog would not pass. She was able to describe the man’s outfit in great detail: ‘high boots, a cloak and ruffles, and a large cavalier type hat with a feather plume’.
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