The pretty Kent village of Pluckley has a dark side. For some years it has been reputed to be the most haunted village in Kent or even the United Kingdom. It causes paranormal enthusiasts and thrill seeking 'Ghost Hunters' to descend on the village all year round to try and witness any one of the many tormented souls said to frequent this village.
The nature of this appeal has become even more so since the popularity of the internet and screening of television programs since Most Haunted hit the UK screens in the early 'naughties'. Other programs have followed and Ghost Connections were invited to take part in a special series of broadcasts. It was this event that spurred us to look a little deeper into the reputed events.
Our research involved comparison of internet sites, blogs and adverts for paranormal events. We also studied available records of births,deaths, marriages and the history of St Nicholas Church. We were also fortunate to meet with Jackie Grebby, the font of all knowledge Pluckley and editor of the Journal of Kent History. Her previous research on the village would prove invaluable and we thank her for her assistance and time.
The Location And Brief History Of Pluckley
Pluckley village centre is situated on the top of the so called Quarry Hills, as range of hills running through the centre of Kent. It is a collection of period cottages with a small shop, public house and the village church. The parish itself extends much further into the lowlands crossed by streams and ditches, prime agricultural land. The geological make up of the soil would lend itself to local industry and clay was dug for use in the local rick works.
In 1088, when Doomesday was written, Pluckley was described as:
The archbishop himself holds in demesne, Pluchelei. It was taxed at one suling. The arable land is twelve carucates. In demesne there are two carucates and an half, and sixteen villeins, with seven borderers having eleven carucates. There are eight servants, and twelve acres of meadow and an half. Wood for the pannage of one hundred and forty hogs. In the whole, in the time of king Edward the Confessor, it war worth twelve pounds; when he received it, eight pounds; and now fifteen pounds, and yet it pays twenty pounds.
This re-iterates the overwhelming predomination of farming in the parish.
In time several manors would flourish in various areas of the parish, the most famous being that held by the Derings at Surrenden. They would rename it Surrenden Dering. This familes history would dominate the village for many generations and in fact Derings have been buried within the church and churchyard since the 15th Century.
Pevington was another outlying manor that had its own church until the 16th century when it was in ruins. It is now hard to locate but its land can still be visited.
The History of Ghosts In This Part of Kent.
In any exploration of the history of ghosts in Kent and indeed elsewhere one must consider the social and personal histories played out in the location.
Kent is famous for smuggling and other nefarious activities in the 18th and 19th centuries. Often gangs would, voluntarily or by force, use local churches and churchyards as meeting places. It was imperative to keep prying eyes away from these locations and around this time many ghost stories came into being. Surely an effort to install some fear into the local population to keep them away from the gangs ill gotten gains.
Other accounts evolve around traumatic events. House fires, tragic deaths, suicides and acts of war cause trauma and sometimes a feeling of hope for better to come. In this way we can see that, maybe, the existence of an ongoing spectral presence may bring hope or just the lingering of good memories, or indeed a means of remembering the tragedy.
These reasonings are not exhaustive but illustrate a point of investigation.
The Ghosts Of Pluckley
Over the years there are many reports and indeed it did at one point feature in the Guinness Book Of Records.
There are, of course, other locations within the village than the ones we have explored. Both The Black Horse and, now converted into a house, The Blacksmiths Arms are reputedly haunted.
The dozen we have chosen are those as have been perpetuated over time as the definitive collection. It may of may not be co-incidental that these are first grouped together in a publication in 1955 by Frederick Sanders. Sanders wrote a book called 'Pluckley Was My Playground' and it was a collection of memoirs of his memories of growing up in the village and talks of the many characters and events within the village. Within these, presumably accurate memories are the descriptions of a dozen hauntings. What is never disclosed is how he knows these to be true. It is these we will explore and their subsequent effects on the world wide history of the paranormal.
As a footnote it is worth also recording that Desmond Carrington who once lived in Pluckley has admitted to "concocting a whole string of them" for an article featured in the TV times written by journalist Bill Evans in the 1950's.
Also, despite some modern suggestion and fanciful
extension of boundaries the ruined church of St Mary is the parish church
of the neighbouring village of Little Chart and is not part of Pluckley
and therefore any inclusion by ghost hunters in their online videos is
Map courtesy of www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk
The Ghosts Of Pluckley – a conclusion
We have been able to explore various parts of the village history in our research and have learnt a great many things about the characters of the village.
We have amassed a large amount of images and copied documents during this time.
The views expressed are those solely of Ghost Connections. We do not seek to get people to dismiss the accounts that have been published over the years but more to form their own conclusions and be able to delve a little into a story before accepting it as the truth.
We have seen that Frederick Sanders wrote a book. He included these within it. His book was a memoir of the village and he used a lot of local people to weave into the ghost accounts. Some were around at the speculated times and some were not. Make of that what you will.
We have also seen that there was the admission of Desmond Carrington to making up accounts.
Consider the natural reasons for subsequent sightings and experiences.
Consider the impact on local people for the invention of spirits in certain places.
Consider the documented histories of the area and personalities.
When all considered, how many of these dozen hauntings that have given Pluckley its reputation are likely to be real, believable events?
We hope you have enjoyed our trawl.
Please let us know if you have any images, tales, sightings or general views on Pluckley's Ghosts via our email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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