Sunbury-on-Thames is an ancient settlement, just outside of London. It’s history is woven with spooky tales of ghosts and supernatural, says PATSY SORENTI
Sunbury-on-Thames lies on the banks of the River Thames in Surrey. There has been a settlement here since ancient times and even has a prehistoric round barrow, still visible and a scheduled ancient monument. It is called Cloven Barrow and is situated south of Cedars Recreation Ground near Rooksmead Road.
Sunbury celebrates its Saxon heritage in its name ‘Sunna Burgh’ – Sunna being the local Saxon chieftain. Sunbury is comprised of two parts: Sunbury-on-Thames and Sunbury Common, which lies to the north and is now known as Sunbury Cross.
It was the home of Admiral Edward Hawke, First Lord of the Admiralty, (1705-1781). He was a distinguished Navy officer who in 1759 achieved a victory over the French fleet at Quiberon Bay and prevented a French invasion of Great Britain during the Seven Years’ War. Quiberon Way in Sunbury is named in honour of his victory and The Admiral Hawke pub serves real ale!
Sunbury-on-Thames remains as a picturesque village, with its prepossessing church, 18th century walled garden, its local shops and its proximity to the river. Its popularity with the nobility in earlier times cannot be overstated.
It was home to at least one Prime Minister Edward Hawke, visited by at least two Monarchs and in recent times the late actor John Gregson (Gideon’s Way), who was a long time resident and who lies buried in Sunbury Cemetery.
Sunbury-on-Thames was a welcome retreat for the French Huguenots who fled Catholic Persecution in the 17th century and who made successful businesses in their new homeland. French Street, which was the main area of residence is named in memory of them.
Sunbury also plays host to several local businesses, and is economically successful. Aircraft engineering, Event Management and IT are some examples of the enterprises, which consider Sunbury their home.
Hauntings of Sunbury-on-Thames
Not surprisingly, most of the paranormal stories connected with Sunbury are connected with the village.
Green Street is a short road in Sunbury-on-Thames. It is bordered on one side by Victorian villas and on the other by modern flats.
In the early 1970’s a family living in one of the Victorian houses was disturbed by the ghost of a young girl whom they dubbed ‘Monica’. She would often disturb the family during the night by standing next to their beds.
Upon making enquiries, the father of the family discovered that ‘Monica’ was a Victorian child who, because of encephalopathy, a brain condition., was locked away. She died at an early age, she was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s and her name was never mentioned again by her family.
Her ghost haunted the house for many years and the current occupants of the house claim that she still does and they do not mind her presence at all. I like to think that ‘Monica’ found love with the people who lived in the house after her, and why she never wants to leave.
Rossall House (now demolished) was once the haunt of a ghost that nobody knew existed until a photograph taken by the wife of scientist Sherard Cowper-Coles in 1917 revealed it.
She was taking photos of various objects and furniture in the house with a view to selling them. When the photographs were developed she was astonished to see the ghost of an old man sitting in one of her chairs. Who he was, and why he should haunt the place, was never explained.
The Castle Restaurant (now an Indian restaurant) is haunted by the ghost of an old woman who has been seen walking from the kitchen towards the dining room. She has been seen on several occasions and is believed to be a former cook who once worked in the building many years ago.
Monksbridge is an attractively unusual gated courtyard bounded by two quaint cottages. This was the site of a small monastery dating from 1760 that once stood here. It was visited at various intervals by King Edward Vlll before he met Wallis Simpson.The ghost here is a monk who is often seen in the courtyard and in the road outside. The place is now grade ll listed private residences.
The Magpie public house is the haunt of the ghost of an old woman. The pub, once called The Phoenix, is actually two cottages in one. It was renamed The Magpie, ‘magpie’ being the informal language for a half pint and was visited on at least one occasion by King Edward Vll. One of the cottages was named Stonor Cottage and was the home of the old lady who died in the cottage before it became a public house. Her ghost is frequently seen and heard, most often in the garden.
Dorrie Nossiter, the luxury jewellery designer, lived in ‘Riverbank’, a house that backed on to the river. Next to the house was a tiny cottage called ‘The Little House’, in which her uncle resided. She claimed that her aunt told her that The Little House was haunted by a ‘happy ghost’ but did not elaborate on the details of this phantom. The tiny cottage still stands in the village. Dorrie died in 1977, and maybe she is now ‘Riverbank’s’ principal ghost and host.
Have you seen a ghost in Sunbury-on-Thames? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
PATSY SORENTI was born in Brentford in west Middlesex. She has been a keen ghost watcher and investigator for many years, her interest in the paranormal beginning during her childhood whilst growing up in a haunted council house. She is an author of several books on the ghosts of Middlesex, which she has co-authored with her husband Ricky and has written several articles on the paranormal for The British Psychic and Occult Society. Patsy has lectured on the theme of ghosts and hauntings for The Ghost Club and she organises and participates in ghost walks of local areas.
Together with Ricky she is a founder member of her new paranormal group West Middlesex Paranormal Investigations. Patsy is a retired accountant, qualified geologist and historian. She is mother of one son and two grandchildren. She currently resides with her husband in Feltham. She is available for talks and guided walks. Information for ghost walks can be found on Facebook ‘Middlesex Ghost Walks’ and details of the paranormal investigations ‘West Middlesex Paranormal Investigations’ can also be found on Facebook.