Real-life Christmas Ghost Stories That Will Make You Shudder

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Guest writer PETER CRAWLEY reveals these real-life English hauntings eerily reminiscent of your classic Christmas ghost story…

Rufford Abbey, real Christmas ghost story

The Ruined Church Of St John The Baptist, Boughton, Northamptonshire

Many years ago a couple were married in the church at Christmas time. The groom died a couple of hours after the service. A month later the bride went to her husband’s grave and committed suicide.  

Since then witnesses have seen a girl with red hair in the churchyard at midnight on Christmas Eve.  

Legend has it that anyone who encounters the ghostly bride (and kisses her) would die soon afterwards. A prediction which came true when William Parker encountered the ghost on Christmas Eve in 1875.  

According to the parish register, William Parker died four weeks later on 24 January 1876.

Cole’s Tump, Kilpeck, Hertfordshire

The horror writer M.R. James was a regular visitor to Kilpeck between 1906 and 1929.

His story ‘A View from a Hill‘, about a young man who borrows an old pair of binoculars and starts seeing events from the past through them, was inspired by the landscape around the nearby hill Cole’s Tump.  

Cole's Tump
Cole’s Tump

Madeira Hall Hotel, Bonchurch, Isle Of Wight

Jilted on her wedding day, Miss Margaret Catherine Dick withdrew from the world.

Until her death 19 years later, she refused to leave the house and lived in an upstairs room which had a trapdoor leading to the kitchen. Her meals were served through the hatchway by the daily woman who never saw her employer – her wages being left with the dirty plates.  

The story reached the ears of Charles Dickens during one of his visits to friends in the village in November 1860. He was so fascinated by the tale that a few weeks later, Miss Dick appeared as Miss Havisham in chapter seven of the serialised version of Great Expectations on 22 December 1860.  

Miss Havisham, too, had been jilted on her wedding day. Dressed in her yellowing bridal gown and torn veil, with flowers in her white hair, she lived in a perpetual darkness lit only by candles, surrounded by decaying reminders of that tragic day; the wedding cake being a playground for mice and black beetles – the hands of all the clocks in the house stopped at 20 minutes to nine.  

Miss Dick’s ghost is still seen and heard today in the kitchens, bedrooms and corridors. Her silver hair is worn in a tight bun and she is dressed in a blouse and long flowing skirt.  

Miss Margaret Catherine Dick's grave in Ventnor Cemetery in Upper Ventnor
Miss Margaret Catherine Dick’s grave in Ventnor Cemetery in Upper Ventnor

Rufford Abbey, Rufford, Nottinghamshire

Are you brave enough to visit the ruins of Rufford Abbey after nightfall?  

A sinister hooded spectre known as the ‘Black Friar’ stands behind people in mirrors.  

This nasty phantom resembles the morbid ‘Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come’ from Charles Dickens’ classic book, A Christmas Carol.  

His head tilts back to reveal a terrifying skull-like face. In contrast to the Grim Reaper is the gentle wraith of a nanny. She wears black and pushes a pram during the summer months.

Watch St John The Baptist, Boughton – Christmas Ghost – Video

PETER CRAWLEY is a member of The Official Ghost Quest. He made his television debut on The Why Files (1997). He is a regular contributor to paranormal literature (The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits Volume 2 by John and Anne Spencer and Supernatural Lancashire by Peter Hough). 

Have you seen a Christmas ghost? Tell us in the comments section below!


  1. Christmas Eve in 1981, my family lived in a German-style house, with a high, pointed roof and a balcony that went around the entire contour of the house, with windows and doors following the shape of the balcony, from where it was possible to see the landscape and everything. that was happening in the garden around him. My mother and I were finishing preparations for supper when she remembered to pick up some Christmas decorations from my grandmother’s house who lived a short distance away from us. My mother left me alone to wait, as it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes. I sat on the large cushions on the floor of the living room, which was right in the center of the house, and there I was cutting little stars out of gold paper to decorate the supper table. That’s when I noticed movement outside and heard a sound like fabric scraping against the wall of the house. Through the window, I saw a woman with long black hair walking towards the back of the garden. Between curious and apprehensive, as he wasn’t someone I knew, I followed him as he moved without being able to see his face covered by dark hair. I just noticed that she was wearing a brown dress with an old-fashioned cut (I now know it was a 1940s secretary style). Through the windows, I saw her slowly passing by, with her head always tilted down, as if she were looking at her feet as she walked. My curiosity was turning into fear. I felt the happy, safe atmosphere of Christmas preparations turn dark. Until the woman disappeared from the sightseeing field, I realized that she was turning the corner of the house, where she would reach the back door that led to the orchard and was open! I stood and waited, not knowing what to do. An icy cold crept up my legs and the woman appeared in the doorway and stopped facing the inside of the house, with her head still tilted as if looking at her feet, with her straight, dark hair shadowing her face. I could barely breathe and that was when I noticed that her dress was swaying slightly on her floating body, without legs. Horrified, I let out a choked moan and ran to the front door, going out into the garden and opening the gate to the street, where I ran in desperation towards my grandmother’s house. My mother appeared a few meters away, returning with the bag of decorations. I threw myself into her arms crying and saying that a scary woman was in our house. The mother consoled me and took me back, checking everything without finding any trace of the invader. My mother is a medium and felt that I had contact with a shadowy apparition on Christmas Eve. The woman was never seen again. But every Christmas I feel some fear of meeting her again.


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