Pluckey is ‘officially’ reported to be England’s most haunted village. MANDY STEEL COLLINS, in the first of a two-part series, investigates …
Pluckley is a small village, with a population of around 1,050, located in Kent. It is famous for two things: The Darling Buds of May, the TV drama that rocketed Catherine Zeta Jones to fame, was shot there; and it is the most haunted village in Britain, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The ‘official’ given number of ghosts is 12, but it appears that 13 to 16 ghosts may be a more accurate figure.
Some of the village ghosts are tied to the Dering family, who were the ‘lords’ of Pluckley’s manor house, Surrenden Dering, for several centuries. A serious fire in 1952 destroyed the house, but despite this, its ghosts remain. Occasionally, the ghost of a White Lady might be seen flitting about the ruins of the house. Dressed in a magnificent white dress, that shines in a ghostly light; her main haunt is actually Dering Chapel, connected to the old Manor by a tunnel. She apparently travels along this from the chapel to visit her old home. The story goes that she was married into the Dering family, but died at a tragically young age. Her husband had her placed in several lead coffins, one inside the other, which were then encased in an oaken casket and laid to rest in the Dering Chapel vault. She was entombed this way in order to preserve her outstanding beauty.
Another ghost associated with the Dering family is the Lady in Red, believed to be an early member of the Dering Family. She can be seen floating amongst the gravestones of St Nicholas’ Churchyard, sobbing for a lost child. Sometimes she is seen at the rear entrance of the church, which was built by the Derings in 1475. Perhaps not quite a member of the Derings, but certainly seen at a pub named after them, The Dering Arms, is the strange little old lady who sits at a table in the pubs bay window. She looks real enough, but on closer inspection, she is revealed to be wearing old-fashioned clothes, and promptly vanishes when commented on.
Other pubs in Pluckley are haunted. The Black Horse Inn had a tendency in the past not to keep its proprietors more than a year, though one braved it out for 15 years. He experienced phenomenon ranging from things disappearing and reappearing in strange places, and had new heavy wooden furniture being severely damaged by an unseen force. No one had gone into the room where the furniture was stored after it had been put there…
The Blacksmith’s Arms has such a ghostly reputation, that in the past it was called The Spectre’s Arms and The Ghost’s Arms. Its spooky residents include a Tudor maid, a coachman staring wistfully into the fire of the public lounge, and a Cavalier trooping around the upstairs rooms that are closed to the public. The Cavalier in particular has been blamed for disembodied footsteps heard in the dead of night
Pluckley and its environs have a number of screaming ghosts. The Screaming Man haunts the Brickworks, and is said to be the ghost of a man who fell down a clay-hole on the site. The terrified scream he emitted as he plunged to his death can still be heard. And the village’s Screaming Woods are so called because a strange screaming can occasionally be heard from deep within the trees.
MANDY STEEL COLLINS says: “I’m a anthropology graduate living in Glasgow (not far from Larkhall) with a life long interest in the paranormal, especially ghosts and hauntings. I got a little notorious at University for doing my dissertation on Scotland’s ghosts and hauntings. I have been running a website on ghosts for a few months, called Ghostly Aspects, which collects ghost stories, especially from Glasgow and the surrounding area. It also features a general blog on ghosts.”