The Desecration of Clophill Church

The Desecration of Clophill Church
Staff Writer

NICOLA CARPENTER looks at the dark myths surrounding the disused  St Mary’s Church in Clophill, Bedfordshire

Clophill a small village nestled in the Flit River Valley in Bedfordshire, first became infamous when James Hanraty chose to murder his victim Michael Gregsten near by in an A6 lay by named Deadman’s Hill.  Maybe it was this sudden connection with a violent death that brought about the desecration of the old abandoned church and its graveyard.

St Mary’s Church in Clophill is thought to be around 400 years old.  It was abandoned as a church in 1848, when it became too small to serve the village congregation and a new Victorian church was built in the centre of town.

There are several myths that surround St Mary’s Church.  It is generally believed to be a church of dark magic and orientated incorrectly.  In fact the church is orientated due east towards Jerusalem, as are many other churches in the British Isles.  Another myth is that the church is built on top of an ancient leaper colony where infected villages as well as those suffering from plague were left to die.  To date there has been no evidence found to support this.

St Mary’s Church first hit the headlines in the March of 1963.  During the night ‘satanic’ graffiti had been daubed on the church walls and  several graves had been damaged with the remains removed from the grave of the apothecary’s wife (some reports say daughter), Jenny Humberstone, who had died in 1770.  The bones were found to have been arranged on a make shift alter and the skull impaled on a metal spike.  The press at the time leapt on the supposed arrangement of the remains and stated that a dark mass, witchcraft or Satanic rituals had taken place in the church.

The news coverage lead to more people visiting St Mary’s and further damage was done to the graves in the churchyard, including another attack on Jenny’s grave.  However as the bones had not been replaced, they found the coffin empty and proceeded to break it up and scatter it among the ruins.  Later Jenny’s remaines were re-interred in her grave and it was decided to clear the site by removing all gravestones to the edge of the graveyard.

Everything died down until midsummer’s eve 1969 when again the church and graveyard were attacked and desecrated.  The significance of midsummer’s eve lead the press to believe the vandalism had been carried out by witches.   The vicar of the new church decided to keep watch over the graveyard, but when nothing happened over the next few nights he gave up.  It was then the vandals struck again.  This time several graves were disturbed but no remains had been removed.

Again things returned to normal for the residents of Church Path until 1975 when graves were again opened and bones randomly scattered across the church floor.  Much was made of the six year gap between the attacks, but since 1979 there has been no further accounts of grave desecration .

The ruins of St Mary’s Church Clophill are now the haunt of urban explorers, paranormal investigators and the odd teenager and long shall they remain to be so.

For more creepy topics from Berkshire’s NICOLA CARPENTER, you can read her blog here.

View Comments (2)


  1. Kevin Gates

    3rd October 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Interesting article. I’ve explored the events of 1963 to 1975 in some detail in a new book on the old church and spoke to a number of witnesses to occult goings on up there during this time. The rector, Lewis Barker had a torrid time during his spell in Clophill from 1962-69. The 1963 incident is quite well known, but the 1975 incident on Halloween included someone being shot at by the people up at the church during an alleged black mass. The police were well aware of what was going on that night as well. It’s a fascinating place.

  2. lennon

    6th January 2014 at 11:47 am


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Paranormal

Image from Geograph Commons by Philip Halling

The real ‘Ophelia’ and other horrors haunt Clopton House

Pollyanna Jones13th November 2015

Haunted Stevenage BOOK REVIEW

Sarah Blair-Dickinson5th November 2015

5 Haunted Places to Visit in Stevenage

Paul Adams4th November 2015

Pipers and the Supernatural

MJ Steel Collins31st October 2015

Five hauntings that may prove ghosts exist

Eddie Brazil30th October 2015

Yorkshire’s Weird Wolds

Guest Writer26th October 2015

Black Nun haunts Bank of England

Ann O'Regan23rd October 2015
The discovery of Jack the Ripper victim, Mary Ann Polly Nichols' body

Do Ripper victim ghosts haunt Whitechapel?

Jon Rees21st October 2015

Ghosts And Demons Of the Ancient Ram Inn

MJ Steel Collins20th October 2015

Gentry, Gallows and Ghosts at Waterford’s Ardoginna House

Ann O'Regan19th October 2015
Anne Boleyn

With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm LYRICS

Staff Writer18th October 2015

5 Haunted Places to Visit in Dudley

Andrew Homer17th October 2015