Cold Christmas’ derelict old church in rural Hertfordshire is surrounded by dark tales of ghosts and nasty goings on, says ANDY CHAPLIN
With only a few days to go until the 12th day of Christmas, I thought I’d give a rundown of my recent impressions of the church at the aptly named village of Cold Christmas.
Embedded within the psyche of most local Hertfordshire folk, if there was one location in the county that is renowned for being historically haunted, this would be it.
So much so in fact, that until recently, it was somewhat of a yearly tradition for unruly youngsters to venture up there in the dark each Halloween for a bit of a rave up. This has recently been curtailed by the boys in blue.
So why the hype over this seemingly innocuous simple country church?
Why is it called Cold Christmas?
Cold Christmas is located next to the ancient village of Thundridge. Mentioned in the Domesday book, its name derives from “the ridge belonging to the God, Thor”.
The reason behind the name Cold Christmas is most definitely a controversial topic among ghosthunters and historians alike, with its array of myths and legends which can make it hard to discern fact from fiction.
Here’s where it gets interesting. It is said that while most medieval churches were built upon an east/west alignment, St Mary’s Church at Cold Christmas was built incorrectly on a north/south alignment.
This drew accusations of it being associated with the sign of the devil and rumours of black magic and witchcraft soon developed, along with ghost stories of tortured souls and the discarnate screams of young children.
Church a shadow of its former self
It’s hard to know when these legends first began, but the church itself is a shadow of its former self. The main structure of it has long since been dismantled, leaving only the tower, but the surrounding gravestones remain.
I first visited Cold Christmas about 15 years ago and back then you could still enter the tower. I do remember upside-down pentagram symbols and other satanic graffiti adorning the walls. But I rather suspect this to be from local hoodlums wanting to put the heebie-jeebies up people.
The tower is now completely boarded-up with no public admittance anywhere to be seen, which is probably a good thing, as it is a protected historical landmark.
Despite its prolific supernatural reputation, to be brutally honest, my intuitive impressions of the church were practically void.
Walking around and taking pictures, I didn’t really pick up anything of a paranormal nature at all. In fact, it seemed quite tranquil. I am fully aware however, that spiritual vibrations can change as the darkness draws near. I’ve only ever visited the site during the daytime, so I’m sure by nightfall it would have an altogether more sinister vibe.
Although I don’t have any particular personal experiences at Cold Christmas, I do, in fact, have an anecdotal story from a client of mine, who I did a reading for many years ago.
Teenage rite of passage
It’s almost a rite of passage for young Hertfordshire teenagers to at some point visit Cold Christmas to see if anything spooky happens.
My client described an account of when she decided to do exactly that with a group of friends in one of their cars. She said that it started off the perfect setting – it was a cold wintery evening, dark and rather misty.
On a whim, they dared to venture along to Cold Christmas Church and so off they went. It was while they were driving down the icy narrow country lanes close by that they noticed what looked to be an old vintage 1920s style motor car, with two people sitting in the front, staring blanky ahead. They appeared to be dressed in vintage looking clothing, which I assume became visible when lit-up by their own headlights.
They considered this to be extremely creepy and out of place. Why was it there in such a remote location ? Who were they ? Why was it all 1920s ? Why were they just staring blankly ahead ?
The intrepid explorers decided to more or less ignore it, carry on to the church and then drive back the same way to see if the curious car was still there.
From what I remember, they had a look around the allegedly haunted church site, found it a bit spooky but didn’t find much else. I believe they reported hearing a few distant whisperings, but were far more perturbed by what they had just witnessed at the nearby roadside.
When it came to returning home, they mustered up the courage to travel back the same route and to their absolute astonishment – were freaked out by the same 1920s car, at the same roadside location with the same odd couple staring straight ahead. Apparently they floored the car home and didn’t know what to make of the entire incident.
Ghostly strange happenings at Cold Christmas
Apparently, this isn’t the first ghostly tale of strange things happening in the nearby country lanes. I have heard over the years of other people reporting such oddities.
What I find most interesting in the above case, is that judging by her demeanour, she was dead serious (pardon the pun) in what they encountered. This raises notions such as the possibility of self reality creation. They had the mindset of wishing to find spooks and whatever that 1920s car and its strange occupants were all about, this may well have had something to do with their experience of the paranormal. We need to ask: was the supernatural aspect of this trip in fact somehow manifested into their reality by their belief in it? Did they generate it themselves?
Over the years, I am increasingly of the opinion that a lot of the results of alleged hauntings and ghost hunting activities are in fact produced by the intentions and openness of those involved. What you seek, you find.
In short – beware what you wish for, it may just come true.
ANDY CHAPLIN, from Tuned In Events, conducts private 121 psychic readings, group party bookings, Skype sessions and demos throughout the South East of the UK. For more information, please call 07788 142 920 or email [email protected] for a no-obligation informal chat about what you might be looking for.