Ghostly West Berkshire

Ghostly West Berkshire | West Berkshire Villages

According to legends, there are plenty of ghosts to be seen in West Berkshire!

So does a 16th-century baby murderer ‘Wild’ Will Darrell still haunt the eponymous stile near Great Shefford, where he was thrown from his horse and broke his neck? Is the Grey Lady still lurking in Shaw House in Newbury?

‘Wild’ Will Darrell, the evil one-time occupant who, so the story goes, threw a baby on to the fire, is said to be seen wandering at Darrell’s stile near Great Shefford, where a vision of the baby in flames appeared and caused him to fall from his horse while out hunting and break his neck.

Ghostly West Berkshire | West Berkshire Villages -Newbury

Donnington Castle has had several sightings, including a soldier who guards the gatehouse but then vanishes, a ‘Green Lady’ who asks visitors why the gates are closed, and a white dog that disappears before reaching the tree line and was seen as recently as 1990.

The Market Place, where Thomas Barrie had his ears chopped off in 1538 at the pillory is now the place where he wanders moaning.

The unfortunate Barrie had been an almoner who was found guilty of spreading rumours about the death of Henry VIII, which was considered treasonable, and he was pilloried in the market place before his ears were chopped off.

It was reported that he died from shock as a result of his punishment.

In nearby Cheap Street, the shade of a Quaker lady is said to appear, perhaps connected with the Quaker burial ground that was on the former site of the bus station.

Not far away and in this century, a mischievous poltergeist seems to have been at work in a Grade II-listed building and former coaching inn, the Jack O’Newbury public house (now known as The Catherine Wheel).

This ghostly rascal has been known to pull people’s hair and enjoy hurling glasses.

Dr Watson who is occasionally seen carrying his black bag near the Oxfam shop in Northbrook Street, where he lived at No 73. A non-existent piano is also sometimes heard from an upstairs room in the building.

Then there is the sound of singing from nuns who long ago lived at Combe Manor and the little girl said to haunt Bagnor’s Watermill theatre.

More recent ghosts are said to be those of the the crew of a Lancaster bomber, killed when they crashed after take-off, who have been seen crossing an old runway at RAF Welford, while the Glenn Miller hanger there is one of the last places the big band member played before being killed; one account says the place is eerily quiet, with local wildlife shunning the area, while another says band music has been heard coming from the hanger.

Ghostly West Berkshire | West Berkshire Villages -Curridge Creature

As businessman Don Prater was walking his dog, he spotted an unusual creature along the passageway behind the Women’s Institute Hall in Curridge.

He described the creature as being dark or grey in colour, having a head like a deer, a neck similar to a swan and a bushy tail. Any suggestion that this creature could have been an alpaca have been quashed as apparently they were all accounted for.

Ghostly West Berkshire | West Berkshire Villages – The phantoms of Littlecote House hote

The phantoms of Littlecote House hotel, near Chilton Foliat, are well-known – the mansion, whose origins reach back to the 13th century is thought to be one of the most haunted houses in the country.

Ghostly West Berkshire | West Berkshire Villages -The Farley Hill Witch

In the eighteenth century, a witch, who could transform into a hare, lived in a cottage in Farley Hill near Reading Road.

Children saw the hare outside one day and pummeled it with stones, injuring the animal’s leg.

They chased the hare to the cottage where it disappeared, and the children saw the witch whose leg was cut.

Though the building is long gone, the witch’s moaning can be heard from where the cottage once stood.

GHOSTLY WEST BERKSHIRE | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES-The Bull Inn ghosts

There was once a nunnery where the Bull Inn sits in Streatley.

According to legend, an errant nun made her way to The Bull for a clandestine meeting with a novice monk. The pair were caught and slain, and yew trees were planted over their graves.

Legend says that every year, on the anniversary of their deaths, two figures rise from the graves.

GHOSTLY WEST BERKSHIRE | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES-The Wildcat of Wokingham

At least eight people in 2004 reported seeing a large light brown cat in Wokingham near Forest Road and the surrounding areas.

One person said the creature had ears similar to a fox with light brown in colour and a straight tail.A man in the Woodcray Manor Golf Club stated that he saw a cat with large green eyes that were 15 centimetres apart.

Ghostly West Berkshire | West Berkshire Villages – Lady Bolingbroke

Lady Bolingbroke is said to haunt Bucklebury, her ghost is reputed to be in the Manor House and her coach is rumoured to be seen driving around the village.

In February 1940 Lady Bolingbroke lay close to death in the crumbling mansion. Margaret was a young student nurse training at the Victoria Hospital, Swindon and visiting her parents when Lady Bolingbroke’s condition deteriorated.

“I was at home for a few days and Doctor Oakley Brown who was the Bolingbroke’s doctor, called at the Rectory to see if I would spend a night at the mansion as Lady Bolingbroke had had a stroke. I agreed to do so and went to see Lady Bolingbroke with Doctor Oakley Brown. He told Lord Bolingbroke and Mr Hiscock that I would be there all night and as I was young and would need feeding in the night. I did what I could for Lady Bolingbroke; at midnight Lord Bolingbroke came to tell me some supper was ready. I joined the two men in the sitting room. Lady Bolingbroke died during the following day.”

It is rumoured Lady Bolingbroke died of a broken heart after her husband left her and escaped to France with another woman.

Lady Bollingbroke was regarded as one of the most beautiful women of her age and indeed Henry St John was known for his handsome looks. Sadly it was an ill marriage, and within two years Henry was no longer living with Lady Bollinbroke. At the young age of thirty, she retired to Bucklebury and set about rebuilding the kitchens and stables at Bucklebury Old Manor.

On 25th October 1718, Frances died at the tender age of 37, many claiming that she had died of a broken heart and/or her shock at her husband’s actions. Since their marriage Henry St John became heavily involved in the politics of the country and wrongly for the time supported the Jacobite Rebellion. His actions (and words) forced him into exile in Paris, joining the Young Pretender. In 1716 he had lost his titles and estates and it was only in 1723 he was able to return and claim them back.

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