We kicked off this seasonís series of ghost hunts with a tour of one of the most haunted villages in England: Prestbury. We have been researching local ghost stories in the county and thought that it would be a good idea to take a group of fellow ghost enthusiasts with us around this picturesque, but spooky, village. This particular group were from the Spiritualist Church, which Martin attends, and we hoped that having some additional psychic involvement along with us might bring forth some paranormal phenomena. We were not to be disappointed!
A week before taking this group on the tour, Martin, Dave and I scouted around the village with our various sets of ghost accounts, and located the two dozen or so places which boast a ghost. At the church graveyard, Martin encountered a dark shadow fleetingly. Was it the Black Abbot, appearing in broad daylight?
The sighting was too brief to be sure, but it seemed to provide an omen for the actual tour. We then carefully planned a route around the village to take in the various locales (which would also culminate in the arrival at a Public House, as well, of course! If we encountered no disembodied spirits en route, we should find ample supplies at the pub).
Dave wrote out an excellent guide to the ghosts of Prestbury, which I then used to host the actual tour. We also visited the local library, and obtained more relevant books and ghost tales from the area, as well as some quite old maps, which proved useful. Our meticulous planning paid off, allowing us to provide our guests with an evening full of ghost stories and local folklore.
The actual group also provided us with some helpful information as we went along, including the location of a couple of cottages and old shops which had eluded our researches. Several theories about the nature of various types of ghost were debated in lively discussions. A couple of the group actually lived in the village, which also helped.
One story from the area says that a teacher, driving towards the village from Cleeve Hill, witnessed a funeral cortege in a field adjoining the road. She saw a hearse pulled by plumed black horses, and mourners dressed in Victorian clothes. Finding this to be a rather odd gathering in a farmerís field, she turned around in the village and retraced her route along the Southam Road, only to find the funeral cortege had entirely disappeared. The teacher had been left puzzled, and spooked by the encounter.
One of our group, Richard, pointed out that in times gone by funeral routes to a church would indeed follow a different path to the main road. This kept the paths of the dead distinct from the paths of the living. So this account of a ghostly funeral party was not entirely out of place in a field! We will look into the possibility that such a route during Victorian times did indeed coincide with the teacherís spooky sighting as our researches of the area continue.
We also visited the site of the old Bishopís Palace, which now only consists of a moated area close to a public footpath. Several stories in the area describe ghosts near here, including the Black Abbot. Digital photos taken by members of the group in the vicinity picked up a wide range of orbs (above and left). It was a perfect late summerís evening, with no moisture to speak of in the air. The fields in the immediate area were laid to grass, and no crops had been recently harvested, as far as we could see (this would have created dust in the air, which may be a cause of some autumnal orbs.) We joked that we should have hired a horse rider, covered in phosphorescent paint, to ride like a ghostly apparition across the adjacent Cheltenham Racecourse. As it turned out, we didnít need to provide any entertainment of the sort!
It was at the end of the tour, as
we traced the path taken by the Black Abbot from Reform Cottage to the Priory
graveyard, when things started to happen.
Several of the group are sensitive, in the mediumistic sense, and almost as one voiced their concerns about temperature drops. Some seemed to feel the presence of an unexplained energy in the graveyard. Something seemed to be brewing up, perhaps as a result of the presence of so many sensitive individuals. The group fragmented as individuals and smaller groups began to follow their instincts, as they explored the area.
Martin has seen many, many ghosts in the last few years, and is rarely shocked by any of them. But the sudden vision of a white lady, dressed in Victorian costume, standing behind Marilyn, one of our group, was too much even for him. There must have been something sinister about this ghost to provoke Martin into letting go a series of wild curses, in fright. What happened next seemed to confirm this feeling. Because Martin saw the ghost push at Marilynís back. And, incredibly, Marilyn fell forwards involuntarily.
Martinís apparition then disappeared, leaving both of them momentarily stunned. But what is even more interesting is that at the very moment that Marilyn was pushed, she took the photo below. In an excited state, Marilyn and Martin shared their experiences with each other, and the rest of our group.
It's an absolutely stunning orb. News of the ghostly encounter soon reached the rest of the group, many of whom had sensed energies within this notoriously spooky graveyard. It seemed to crown an excellent evening, creating a buzz of chatter which was soon aided and abetted by a round of drinks at a pub in the village. We had already started to plan the next ghost hunt
© Dave, Martin and Andy
Thanks to Richard and Marilyn for the use of their pictures.