THE picturesque rural community of Pluckley in Kent holds the dubious title of Britain’s most haunted village.
With a population of just over 1,000, Pluckley is purportedly home to at least 15 ghosts – making it a top destination for paranormal investigators.
It’s been the subject of many supernatural-themed TV shows, including ITV’s Strange But True? with Michael Aspel, Living’s Most Haunted and Channel 4 variety show Sunday Night Project – in which Justin Lee Collins, Alan Carr and Will Young spent a night camping in the village’s spooky Screaming Woods.
On a non-paranormal note, Pluckley was also the filming location for Nineties series The Darling Buds Of May – starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Every Halloween, there’s a strong police presence in the village – due to the sheer number of ghoul-chasing visitors – and here are the 15 eerie spirits that make it such a spectre spectacle...
A forested area just outside the village, Pluckley Woods is said to be rife with the screams of long dead men and women who became lost in the sea of trees.
Many ghost tour companies offer trips to the area – nicknamed Screaming Woods – as well as the chance to brave an overnight stay there in a tent.
At Fright Corner, an unknown highwayman was killed with a sword after a fight broke out between him and lawmen – who pinned him to an oak tree.
Legend has it that a ghostly re-enactment of the deadly battle is played out on the spot of the murder, thought to date back to the 18th century.
HORSE DRAWN COACH
Ghostly visions and sounds of a horse drawn coach are said to haunt Maltman’s Hill – though the creepy phenomenon has also been witnessed in other parts of the village.
On one occasion, a woman was returning home from babysitting and saw a coach being pulled by horses with bright light coming from the carriage windows.
In 1997, a person driving through Pluckley around 7pm was suddenly overwhelmed by the sound of horses’ hooves on cobbles inside their car.
The apparition of a gypsy lady – who used to sell watercress she found in the stream – has been seen smoking a pipe at Pinnock Bridge.
She is said to have haunted the scene since losing her life there after accidentally being burned to death.
Witnesses describe her as a misty figure who sits on the bridge.
On Dicky Buss’s Lane (named after the miller) the paranormal manifestation of a hanging teacher has been known to appear.
The ghost is allegedly that of a schoolmaster who committed suicide by hanging himself following the First World War.
His dangling corpse was discovered by Buss several weeks after he was reported missing.
Another suicide victim, the ghost of a colonel who hanged himself in Park Wood has been spotted walking among the trees.
The wooded area has now been largely cleared – but alleged sightings of the wandering military man continue.
PUB IS PARANORMAL HUB
The supernatural reputation of The Blacksmith’s Arms is such that in the past it was called The Spectre’s Arms and The Ghost’s Arms.
Its spooky dead residents include a Tudor maid, a coachman staring wistfully in the fire of the public lounge and a Cavalier roaming around the upstairs rooms.
An accident at the old brickworks resulted in a man being killed when a wall of clay crushed him.
It’s said that to this day, his screams of agony shortly before his death can still be heard ringing out in the area.
Harking back to the 1100s, Lady Dering supposedly haunts the grounds of St Nicholas church – where she was buried in a lead coffin in the crypt.
Known as the Red Lady – after the rose that was apparently placed atop her coffin – she is said to wander the church yard in search of the grave of her stillborn baby.
St Nicholas is also apparently home to another Dering ghost – this one stalks the inside of the church and the library of her family home Surrenden Dering, which was destroyed by fire in 1952.
The White Lady spectre was repeatedly seen at Surrenden Dering by employees of the US Embassy, which occupied the manor house between the two world wars.
It’s claimed a man called Mr Walter held a lonesome vigil one Christmas Eve night in the library – she appeared before him, so he shot her apparition with his rifle.
THUNDERBOLTS AND FRIGHTENING
The black silhouette of miller Richard ‘Dicky’ Buss apparently haunts a ruined windmill near a house called The Pinnocks.
The mill was shut down by Buss in the 1930s and was subsequently destroyed by a fire in 1939 after being struck by lightning – but it seems his spirit refuses to leave.
It’s claimed the ghostly presence of Buss can be witnessed prior to the arrival of a thunderstorm.
The supernatural presence of a monk is said to haunt the grounds of a house called Greystones.
Built around 1863, the abode was originally named Rectory Cottage – home of the curate for St Nicholas church.
It was renamed Greystones in 1924, and since then no residents have reported any unusual activity inside or outside the house.
Dating back over 250 years, Rose Court bears witness to the ghostly image of a woman who killed herself after swallowing a batch of poisonous berries.
The lady, thought to be a mistress of a Dering family member, can be heard calling for her two dogs between the hours of 4pm and 5pm – the supposed timing of her death.
Items have been reported missing at Pluckley pub Black Horse – usually clothing – that magically reappear from out of nowhere several days later.
The jury’s still out on this one, so it may be worth popping in for a pint and seeing if the hat you ‘casually’ place on the table suddenly vanishes.
The building was once reputed to have been a farmhouse surrounded by a moat that was home to the local bailiff.
Formerly an old hunting lodge, The Dering Arms pub is allegedly haunted by an old lady wearing a bonnet.
The apparition is said to be so clear and lifelike, punters have mistaken her for a real customer sitting at a table.