St John the Evangelist Church in Eton was once plagued by dark forces, with famed ghosthunter Peter Underwood drawn to investigate the hauntings. RICK HALE continues his series, Trailing Peter Underwood, looking at the late, great English ghosthunter’s most interesting paranormal cases…
Churches are often thought of as places of tranquillity and safety. The faithful believe these buildings are sanctified by God for the dual purposes of worship and fellowship with fellow believers.
Nevertheless, a small handful of these houses of the holy are anything but. And Peter Underwood investigated one of these churches and Vicarage where something other than god lurked.
The Case of St John the Evangelist Church in Eton
One morning while perusing through the articles of two newspapers, Peter Underwood came across two articles detailing a story that was both curious and frightening.
According to the articles in The Daily Mirror and Daily Express, the Vicar and parishioners of a church in Eton believed their church was under attack by dark, diabolical forces.
Forces that seemed determined to destroy the modest little church they loved so much.
They claimed the church, St John The Evangelist in Eton, was built over a spot where shadowy cultists worshipped the devil and engaged in nefarious rituals.
Even the unspeakable act of human sacrifice to appease their primordial gods.
Vicar Christopher Johnson and his wife, Annie went on record that an exorcism was performed in the church.
And despite their best efforts to expel the evil, the demonic entities remained to carry on their campaign of terror.
Annie, herself, had heard the cacophonous shrieks of girls in anguish on more than one occasion.
Windows were smashed, the vicar’s vestments had been disturbed and the altar had been desecrated with the candles arranged for some kind of sinister ritual.
The vicar’s wife, ever a woman of strong faith, was quoted as saying, “The devil has won this one, but it’s not over yet”.
Courageous words that came from a belief in something greater than her fear.
Without delay, the ghost hunter sent the Vicar a letter enquiring if he could come to the Vicarage and look into these claims for himself.
Vicarage more haunted than church
Vicar Johnson, agreed and informed Peter that the house was far more haunted than the church. A few days later, Peter and his wife travelled to Eton to look into the bizarre claims of evil spirits.
When the Underwoods arrived, the Johnsons regaled them with unnerving stories of demons and failed exorcisms that would chill even the most courageous to the bone.
Vicar Johnson was convinced his church and parishioners we’re under siege by the forces of hell.
When they entered the church, Peter sensed what he called, ‘atmosphere’ even though he wasn’t psychic by any means.
He did feel that something unnatural lurked in the church. But what that something was, he couldn’t ascertain just yet. An investigation would have to be done.
After the walk through, Peter asked if he could return with his colleagues from The Ghost Club.
Vicar Johnson, was all too happy to allow these learned men and women into his Vicarage to try and figure out what was haunting it. And hopefully find out what it wanted.
While the Ghost Club members conducted their investigation, mysterious running footsteps could be heard as well as the rattling of an old letterbox.
It was determined that the Vicarage wasn’t being haunted by anything inhuman. But rather, very much human.
It would seem that in the 19th century, the Vicarage was run by a vicar who was known to be strict and overly stern with his three daughters.
Although the three girls had blossomed into lovely young women, the Vicar wouldn’t allow them to have any suitors and they weren’t allowed to ever leave their rooms.
The sound of the letterbox followed by the sound of running footsteps were from young men clandestinely dropping messages in the post and then running away so as not to run afoul of the Vicar.
Exorcist claims spirits haunted rooms
A visiting exorcist claimed the girls spirits were tied to their rooms and the phantom forms seen in the rooms were the girls. And as for the shrieking Annie heard, those were the three girls screaming and sobbing over the cruelty of their father.
The spirit of the cruel Vicar was present as well and had taken possession of Vicar Johnson on several occasions. Causing him to say and do things that completely went against his nature.
Annie further believes the ghostly Vicar attempted to strangle her one night as she slept. When she awakened she could see no one but felt two strong hands around her neck.
During a seance, another entity that had nothing to do with the Vicar and his daughters revealed itself.
The entity claimed it was responsible for the death of a child and buried the child’s body in the garden by a bush.
Although a body was never found, Annie Johnson did remark that on more than one occasion she was overcome by a deep sadness in the garden.
When the investigation and seance was completed, the ghost hunter informed the Vicar that whatever malevolent force was haunting the vicarage was laid to rest and would trouble him no more.
Years later in the early 1990s, after years of vandalism the vicarage was sold to a local college and was turned into flats.
Whatever dark paranormal forces that plagued the church were gone and never troubled the students that resided there.
My own thoughts on this case
While studying this case, I have a few thoughts on what was going on at St John’s the Evangelist. It would seem that two haunting phenomena were plaguing the church.
One, there was an intelligence at work, meaning entities were attempting to communicate and causing trouble.
The cruel Vicar for one and the entity who murdered the child were very much aware of their surroundings and could interact with the living.
As for the shrieking, the letterbox and the phantom footsteps, this was clearly a Stone Tape situation.
These events were inexplicably impressed on the building and would replay when the conditions were right. Or when a psychically gifted person was there to perceive them.