Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Haunted Wiltshire - an introduction

The Concise Oxford Dictionary for the 1990s defines a ghost as ‘the supposed apparition of a dead person or animal; a disembodied spirit.’ So, with the latter in mind, do I believe ghosts are just that, the spirit manifestation of dead people? No. Do I consider the possibility that ghosts are recordings of past events indelibly etched into the fabric of their immediate surroundings? Possibly. Do I believe you need to be psychically aware or sensitive or mediumistic to see ghosts? Most certainly not. 

I have met with many people over the years who claim to have seen ghosts, the majority of whom do not consider themselves remotely psychic, sensitive or possess any mediumistic abilities, they just happened to be in the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time depending on how you look at it. In nearly all cases, these individuals were busying themselves with their day-to-day lives (more often than not in broad daylight I may add) when for no reason other than that just mentioned they saw ghosts.

There is a growing weight of evidence which would suggest that ghosts do not appear to those individuals who claim to possess certain 'abilities' as some would have you believe. On the contrary, the ghost phenomena is spontaneous by its very nature and has a habit of manifesting itself in the presence of folk who you would lease expect to see them, specifically those who have not actively gone out of their way looking for them. By their own admission, many of the individuals I have spoken to were of the opinion that ghosts were nothing more than figments of an overactive imagination, a trick of the light, etcetera, that was until their brief and sudden episode of frisson caused them to reevaluate their scepticism.

This blog catalogues locations I have visited which are reputedly haunted. Where possible I have selected locations accessible to the public. I have included first hand accounts from people who claim to have encountered ghosts plus anecdotal tales passed down over the years.

I hope you enjoy the blog. Please feel free to contact me with your opinions and stories via the email link in the side bar.

I remain as always, an open-minded sceptic.


Haunted Wiltshire by Keith Wills

Hauntings, legends and folklore are explored by Keith Wills in this chilling collection of true ghost stories from this most enigmatic of counties.

Ghostly manifestations have been reported at Avebury Manor where a beautiful young woman dressed in white has a habit of tapping the shoulders of unwary visitors, searching, so it is said, for her lover killed in action during the Civil War. A hideous dwarf is said to haunt Lacock Abbey scaring the pants of anybody who encounters him; a menacing white cat stalks walkers on the ancient 5000 year old Ridgeway passage; and The Blue Lady at the Cross Guns inn Avoncliff who pops up all too often in the ladies toilets. These are just some of the eerie locations the author has visited in search of the strange but true.

These true-life ghostly encounters have been collected and researched using a variety of sources and interviews.

There is a dark side to Wiltshire's ancient history which has left its mark on the counties inns, hotels, stately homes and burial barrows. This spine-tingling collection of supernatural tales is sure to appeal to anyone interested in Wiltshire's haunted heritage.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Image credit Joan De La Haye

Halloween has its roots in the Festival of Samhain; a date we now celebrate as Halloween. Halloween or All Hallows Eve, has its roots in ancient Celtic beliefs. The Celtic Druid's end of summer festival - Samhain, began at sundown on the 31st October (their new years eve) and lasted for three days. It was a celebration in honour of the dead to give thanks to the sun god - Lugh, who’s passing indicated the end of summer and  the beginning of winter.

It was a brief moment in time, when the Celts firmly believed the veil between the living and the dead was at its thinnest and that the dead were able to breach the veil and pass into the realm of the living. Once there, they would seek out their homes and loved ones. It was also a dangerous period; dangerous because the Celts believed evil spirits could also cross the liminal. The Celts believed this transition by the dead was essential to ensure a rich and prosperous harvest for the following year. It was also a time when Samhain - the god of the dead, who had collected up all the souls of those who had died the previous year, would set them free to join the Druid heaven.

The Halloween we celebrate today (or not as the case may be, preferring as I do, to give the impression of being out so avoiding having to open the door to the neighbourhood’s little horrors - bah humbug!) has been integrated, somewhat reticently it has to be said, into Christian celebrations, again a three day event comprising of All Saints Day, followed by All Souls Day or "The Day of the Dead" and finally, All Hallows Eve, which was eventually shortened to Halloween. Halloween has survived many attempts to eradicate it from the calendar by the Christian church, (even now many Christians choose not to celebrate it) simply because it has pagan roots, some even convinced it has satanic links.

Any similarity between Samhain and today’s Halloween celebrations is purely coincidental. The holiday was popularized by the Americans centuries ago, as are the traditions of bobbing for apples, Jack-o-Lanterns (lit pumpkins) trick-or-treat and of course dressing up as ghosts and ghouls etcetera. These traditions are loosely based on Celtic customs, for example: trick-or-treat was probably derived from the practice of leaving a ‘treat’ (milk or cheese) outside the doors of friends homes to appease evil spirits. The dressing up as ghosts and ghouls is to symbolize the good and bad spirits as they walk with the living.

The most favoured custom on Halloween, has to be the Pumpkin or Jack-o-Lantern.
History of the Jack-o-Lantern.

People have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.  Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavoury figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out pumpkin and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."
Source ~ The History Channel ~

Halloween, in my opinion, is a harmless celebration where kids can go trick-or-treating and scare the pants of the neighbours whilst us adults have a good excuse to dress up like throwbacks from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. But remember the witching hour dear reader; that time between 12 midnight and 1am on the 31st October when the veil between the living and the dead will be at its most fragile for who knows what 'orrible creepy nasties might piggyback on the shoulders of the benign and crossover to the realm of the living. Have a good one!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Memories of Me

So many times I have called your name
But you turn away as if you do not hear me
I leave no footprints where I walk
No fingerprints on all that I touch
No echo to my voice
No fragrance to my garden
No warm summer breeze caresses my face

My photograph brings you only tears
But why weep, I am here beside you my love, just a whisper away
Shapeless faces call to me from the shadows
But I will not follow, for tonight like many others before
I will lay with you as you sleep
Listening to your dreams
Your memories of me


Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring

Harry Price (1881-1948) magician, conjuror, paranormal investigator, ghost hunter and infamous debunker of fraudulent spiritualists and mediums; a practice which, on occasion would often lead to a lucrative livelihood reduced to ruins. He is probably best known for his extensive investigations of the alleged hauntings at Borley Rectory, a bleak Victorian mansion which once stood in a small hamlet on the Sussex/ Essex border.

Price’s investigations at Borley Rectory between 1929 and 1948, were well publicised. Indeed he wrote several books about Borley’s ghosts, poltergeists and its terrifying black-robed nun, his most famous ‘The Most Haunted House in England,‘ gained him much notoriety along with the unofficial title of Britain’s foremost authority on ghosts and hauntings. As time passed his claims for Borley’s hauntings became, shall we say, a little “colourful” and were considered by many as somewhat dubious, so much so that he was eventually exposed as a hoaxer, ironic when you consider how much time he devoted to exposing fake mediums etcetera. Although he admitted to fabricating some of Borley's “paranormal incidents” he was adamant that not all were of his doing.

Neil Spring’s debut novel, The Ghost Hunters centres around Harry Price’s investigation of Borley Rectory, a story narrated by his fictional assistant Sarah Grey. Spring’s story brilliantly brings together fact and fiction in an enthralling ghost story of revenge, deception, love and hope.