Pluckley, named supposedly after an ancient Saxon man (Plucca) who founded it around the 9th Century. It is a small village with a population of approximately 1,000 lying within the Ashford District of Kent. On first glance this small picturesque village is very similar to many other English villages, but don’t be deceived this one is different… Pluckley is the most haunted village in Britain.
The village itself is gorgeous and surrounded by the countryside that has been famously named “The Garden of England”.
The Kentish landscape is very old and comes with a rich history that tells of Bronze Age, Iron Age and even Roman occupation. Pluckley itself sits on the edge of the ‘Andredsweald’ an ancient Saxon forest which stretches along the whole of the English south coast as far down as the Isle of Wight and there is even mention of it within the Doomsday Book. The Andredsweald itself has seen many a terrifying saga play out within its woodland, with Anglo-Saxon accounts the tell of them driving the native Britons out from their coastal towns to deep in the forest searching for refuge and sanctuary.
“A.D. 477. This year came AElle to Britain, with his three sons, Cymen, and Wlenking, and Cissa, in three ships; landing at a place that is called Cymenshore There they slew many of the Welsh; and some in flight they drove into the wood that is called Andred’sley” Wikipedia
Right through to the Middle Ages, the forest was a hiding place for vagabonds and highway men, with isolated hamlets scattered around. When night is starting to fall on the wooded countryside and one of its notorious sudden mists creep over the rolling hills, it is quite easy to see how one of the villages in this area has gained the notoriety of being Britain’s most haunted village, as this is what Pluckley is really famous for (as well as the location for the British TV show ‘The Darling Buds of May’ starring Catherine Zeta-Jones!).
In 1998 Pluckley was crowned, the most haunted village by the Guinness Book of Records with officially 12 ghosts, but roughly 16 having been reported. I have wondered whether or not the 3 pubs within the small village may have accounted for the oldest residents still being sighted, however who am I to speculate!
The village has many other tales that do not include its supernatural residents as it has been home to some extremely powerful and influential people over the centuries and I even included a legend involving one such family under the Legends tab, back to the ghosts though, here are some of their sad tales:
The Screaming Man
This is possibly one of the most famous ghosts in Pluckley, the desperate scream of a man can be heard coming from the old Brickworks. There is no confirmation of who this poor soul is, it is only believed that he was smothered to death when a wall of clay fell on him.
In 1920 the body of Pluckley’s head master was discovered hanging from a tree by a group of school children after he had hung himself. His ghost is seen wandering around Dick Buss’s Lane, wearing a long coat and striped trousers.
The Gypsy Woman of Fright Corner
Fright Corner has a couple of well-known apparitions, the Gypsy woman was often seen on the banks of local streams were she would collect watercress to sell. There are two stories have how she came to haunt the area, the first is that she died after being burnt alive in her sleep, there other is that she was burnt to death from a spark from the pipe she was always seen smoking, lighting on her gin soaked skirts. Her ghost is seen walking along the Crossroads Bridge.
Robert Du Bois, the Highway Man
Robert was a notorious highwayman who dates back to the Stuarts, who would hide within a hollow old oak tree also located on the crossroads haunted by the gypsy woman. When a traveller would pass he would jump out and alleviate them of their possessions. Unfortunately, Robert had become quite skilled and it was soon known that if you were to pass along the crossroads you would be robbed. This is where the story becomes interesting and again there are two endings, the first is that one passerby did not want to risk being robbed so pierced the Oak tree with a sword, killing Du Bois. The second is that the villagers of Pluckley became so frustrated by his illegal activities that the pinned him to his Oak tree with their swords.
The Dering Ladies
There are two ghostly women from the Dering family, the first was said to be incredibly beautiful, so beautiful that when she died tragically young her devastated husband could not bear the prospect of her being spoilt by death. So, when the Lady in White was buried, she was placed three lead coffins and then another oak coffin to preserve his beautiful wife. She can sometimes be heard making the banging noises or seen walking through the graveyard clasping the single red rose placed in her coffin by her distraught husband. The second Lady Dering is also seen walking through the graveyard of St Nicholas searching sadly for the grave of a child.
There is a third woman who wanders through the graveyard, but her identity is not known, only that she wears distinctive clothes from the 1900’s.
Black Horse Pub
Located in the centre of the town and known for its warm welcome and good food, it was built in 1450 and is claimed to be the most haunted pub in England. Considering its age that is not too surprising.
There are supposedly several ghosts here, including the poltergeist that delights in hiding objects, mainly cutlery and is said to have locked the landlady out. There is also the ghost of a woman in one of the upstairs rooms that has been seen wearing a long red dress.
Interestingly, it is not just people who haunt Pluckley, there have even been reports of dogs that have been seen to haunt the area!
So, is the village really haunted? It would appear that there have been many investigations and booklets written on the subject, and all seem to vary. Even the local celebrity, Desmond Carrington who once lived here admitted “Concocting a whole string of them” in an interview back in the 1950’s. It was this interview written by the journalist Bill Evans that gave the village its spook reputation.
There are more ghost stories from Pluckley, I have just picked a handful. You can however take a look at some more websites on the subject under bibliography if you would like to learn more about this pretty little village and its ghoulish inhabitants!
If you have any stories of your own relating to Pluckley – or even the area, I would love to hear them!