CHRISTINE MILLER takes a look at the third episode of Great British Ghosts centred on Woodchester Mansion and Prestbury Village, hosted by Michaela Strachan
Considered to be the most Haunted house in Britain – how often to we hear that claim? – Woodchester Mansion has stood, as least partially since the late nineteenth century, but the site itself dates back to pre-roman times. The mansion was never finished as the owner ran out of funds before he could have his creation completed. The gothic brooding building lay undisturbed for some 150 years.
Many claim the mansion is cursed. No might be forgiven for this belief considering that there were seven deaths, six major accidents, and even a murder while (part) construction of the building was taking place.
As if that wasn’t terrifying enough, the building boasts over 750 protected bats in the attic.
Michaela gets a guided tour of the mansion from a local historian, who believes the building is home to a poltergeist who likes to throw stones, having witnessed this phenomena for himself. This is just the beginning of a plethora of paranormal tales attached to the building, however…
The pair begin the tour in the ‘mortuary’ area. During the Second World War American and Canadian troops were stationed at the mansion for training purposes. There was a tragic accident at a nearby lake, where a bridge collapsed, killing some of the soldiers. Their bodies were recovered and stored in the game larder, now known as the Mortuary Room. There have been reports of sightings of these men in their uniform wandering the manor, unable to rest.
The guide tells Michaela that a member of a paranormal team, who was tasked with conducting a lone vigil, was able to catch on camera what does indeed appear to be a photograph of a spectral Serviceman.
Next, the historian shows Michaela to a rather grand looking spiral staircase, where a monk has been sighted moving down the stairwell and walking into the chapel. He presents Michaela with video ‘evidence’ of said spooky monk, and although grainy, it does appear to show a shadow moving across the doorway next to the staircase. The historian claims there was a serious attempt to debunk the video footage, however those who analysed it were unable to replicate the ghostly footage.
Michaela heats a tale of one guest was staying over in the mansion, and witnessed in the dead of night a dark shadow moving through the moonlit window and over the ceiling. Terrified, she froze in fright, unable to move from the bed.
In the cellar where the tour concludes, Michaela hears that paranormal activity is most notable in the unbelievably creepy and ominous looking vaulted area, located at the very far end of what is already a very unnerving cellar. It is in this vault that an Elemental is believed to inhabit. The guide explains that this form of energy fills the vault with a ‘complete blackness’ whereby it is impossible to see even one’s own body. The Elemental has been seen on more than one occasion and it is said to possess a horrific ‘Gollum-like’ appearance.
Chris Romer, a parapsychologist, tell Michaela that prior to his visit to Woodchester Mansion, he was very much sceptical about the supposed hauntings attached to the building, however one experience left him believing that there might be some truth to them. He explains that he once heard distinctly a horse galloping and coming to a stop right outside the building, however there was no one, or thing, there. He was unable to conceive any rational explanation for this unusual happening.
Home to a headless horseman, a wandering monk, and a phantom jockey, Prestbury boasts a very impressive, if disproportionate, gang of ghosts. This tiny village is Michaela’s next stop.
First, she is taken on a tour around the village, and hears the tale of Fred Archer, a jockey, who is said to have hanged himself in a nearby pub, however he is mostly witnessed outside of the pub, disappearing as he crosses the road. This happened to the same group of stunned witnesses not once, but twice.
Michaela and her guide arrive at the village graveyard, where one of the most famous ghosts, The Black Abbot commences his walk into the village, his wandering figure having reported on numerous occasions.
Mill Street, one of the most haunted streets in the entire world. The street is notorious mostly for a ghostly marching army that has been both seen and heard.
Within the village, there are said to be not one, but three headless horsemen. One account goes that centuries ago, a rather nasty trickster had stretched a rope across the road decapitating the rider, which would explain at least one of the ghosts’ lack of head.
Local residents are proud of their claim to fame, Michaela tells us.