SARAH BLAIR-DICKINSON picks the spookiest places to visit in Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Hitchin Priory, SG5 2DL
Hitchin Priory is haunted by a mysterious grey lady that has been witnessed floating above the stairs on the top floor of the priory. This apparition is thought to be the sweetheart of a cavalier by the name of Goring. He had been hiding in a nearby house when he was found and forced to flee. He was caught up with under a tree near the Priory where he was killed. Apparently his girlfriend saw the whole thing from the window and it could be her ghost now wandering the Priory.
Nestled between Churchyard Walk and the High Street is a dark alleyway by the name of Aram’s Alley. Eugene Aram, an usher at a local school, is said to have been on the run for quite some time after he murdered a tramp whilst in Yorkshire. Aram used to bolt his bedroom door every night and was constantly in fear of being apprehended. He eventually was caught and was tried and hung for the murder in Kings Lynn in 1758. If you find yourself in Aram’s Alley after dark one night, you just may encounter the unhappy ghost of Eugene Aram.
Philpotts Furnishings, SG5 1AQ
Though it’s now a furniture store, the upper floor of the Queen Anne building was formerly a flat. There was a fake ceiling in the dining room that opened into a small secret room. Whilst eating their meals, the residents would experience the air going cold, the ceiling opening up and their food and drink would be thrown over them. Footsteps were heard both day and night and one resident remembers lying in bed one night and hearing footsteps coming towards her room. Her doorknob turned and the door creaked open and a voice whispered her name—yet no one was there. She ran screaming to her parents room. Eventually the whole family slept in the same room to feel safer from late-night ghostly shenanigans.
The Sun Hotel, SG5 1AF
This hotel dates back to the 1500s and is reputed to have several ghosts haunting the place. One is the ghost of a woman that hangs about Room 10. One man claims that awoke in the night with what felt like the body of a woman lying across his face as if trying to suffocate him. He was so terrified he ran out of the hotel and didn’t come back until the next morning. Lord Havisham, who committed suicide in one of the upstairs rooms, is also said to haunt the hotel and encounters with him are terrifying. On a few occasions a former barmaid witnessed the ghost of a monk walking through the room and at one point he even came behind the bar as if to pour himself a drink.
Minsden Chapel, SG4 7PW
The ruins of Minsden Chapel can be found in the countryside outside of Hitchin and is haunted by a phantom monk. If you visit the chapel at midnight on Halloween you may be treated to a vision of the ghostly monk in the north-east end of the chapel, climbing a staircase which no longer exists. In 1907 the spectre of the monk was photographed walking out of the ruins. Visitors to the chapel ruins have also reported hearing the faint sound of distant music and a white cross glowing on the stone walls. Other ghosts rumoured to haunt the ruins are that of a small child and also a nun.