Discover the spooky side of Haunted Bedford – the riverside county town of Bedfordshire, with MELISSA ELBORN
Bedford is most well-known for its connection to John Bunyan, who wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress whilst imprisoned in town’s prison in 1660 but there’s plenty of macabre history to explore too.
Bedford Castle mound
All that remains of the once large medieval castle today is the base of the motte, standing at 25 feet tall opposite the banks of the River Great Ouse.
It’s the perfect spot to take a night-time stroll but if you do, listen carefully, as you may hear something sinister…
Bedford Castle was originally built in 1100 by Henry I and in 1216, the castle was captured by Fawkes de Breautè, a French soldier who became successor to the throne.
In 1224, King Henry III took control of Bedford Castle after an eight-week siege that involved nearly 3,000 soldiers.
After taking control of the castle, the King ordered its destruction but not before hanging 80 of its defenders on the castle mound.
It’s claimed that if you stand upon the mound at night and listen closely, you will be able to hear the creaking of the castle gallows.
Cineworld Bedford, Newnham Avenue
Many of us love nothing more than getting the heebie jeebies watching the latest horror flick.
But if you’re watching a horror film at the cinema in Newnham Avenue, Bedford, then you might experience more than just a jump scare.
The location of the cinema was once the site of a 17th century priory and local reports say that when the cinema was originally constructed the excavation work revealed a number of bodies and a former burial ground.
It has also been rumoured that a 21-year-old man hung himself from a tree in the grounds of the old priory where screen four now stands.
With this macabre history, it’s perhaps not surprising that hauntings have been frequent over the years particularly in screen four and the nearby toilet area with sightings of a hooded figure, cold spots, scratching noises and the feeling of ghostly hands on cinema-goers legs in the toilets!
The Higgins, Bedford
Formed from the Victorian home of the Higgins family and the brewery that made their fortune, The Higgins Bedford is an art gallery and museum.
The large Victorian mansion in Castle Close, opened as an art gallery in 1949 and over the years there has been reports about a variety of supernatural phenomena such as cold spots in a toilet and bedroom, and poltergeist activity.
There have also been sightings of several entities including a 1930s style man wearing a bowler hat, another man wearing a dark suit, and a stable boy who walks around the library.
The King’s Arms Pub, St Mary’s Street
Every town has stories about haunted pubs and Bedford is no different.
Public houses are often one of the oldest buildings in a town, making sightings of ghosts more likely.
What is less well-known is that public houses were often used as mortuaries before there were many hospitals.
Pubs would often take in the bodies of murder or accident victims whose untimely deaths are believed to be more likely to cause unrest.
The King’s Arms Pub in St Mary’s street in Bedford has such a history.
There is even a coffin-shaped trapdoor above the bar for moving coffins when the room above was used as a mortuary.
Over the years, staff have reported various hauntings such as the sensation of being watched in the cellar or the presence of an older man wearing a short-sleeved shirt.
Other sightings include a young man walking in the upper floor of the pub and old-fashioned nails being thrown across the bar.
Haunted Mill Street, Bedford
Bedford’s most infamous haunted street has to be Mill Street.
Number 38 in particular has a long history of hauntings.
Now a business centre, 38 Mill Street was built in 1760 and has been private residence, a restaurant and offices for Magistrate clerks.
There have been accounts of sharp door knocking on doors when there is nobody outside, the sound of invisible feet walking along corridors and ghostly hands turning door handles.