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Ghost Connections Recce - West Kent

 

Sunset over Royden

 

Every so often the Ghost Connections team embarks on an evening out to research further sites for investigation. The decisions to conduct a survey of these locations is based upon any number of factors- some sites are referrals through our web site, some have reports or legends attached and some are considered of significant historical or aesthetic interest.

On this occasion we chose to explore the west Kent area and had had contact with someone with reports through our website regarding a previously investigated area so this too was added to the list for that night.

At the outset this recce would include a previously investigated medieval churchyard, a ruined medieval chapel, an ancient pack horse trackway, two Victorian cemeteries and a modern cemetery (although we didn't know at the time).

So, first stop Royden, where a member of the public had contacted us in regard to sightings of a black entity in a field near to the church. There was further information given regarding an 'altar stone' outside the church bounds. 'Altar stones' are sometimes a remnant of old stone that as a story of occult activity attached and may never be based on any fact although Royden is a location that may or may not be able to be treated with a little more truth as severed animal heads have previously been found secured to the church gates.

St.Marys Royden

 

On our amble around we found a large boulder under the hedge opposite the church but it had no discernible markings or square cut edges although it may previously have formed part of a substantial wall. We may have identified the field quoted to us but it requires verification so this may be included in a forthcoming report. Further encores are necessary to verify the facts of this report.

Second stop was a secluded, unsigned chapel ruin. This appears in a few publications but is not signed and not easily accessible so its location will not be published here currently. What can be said – familiar with many churches and chapels in secluded areas, the building was built in the 12th Century and was allowed to become ruinous in the 16th Century. The foundations can be discerned within a copse of trees a short distance from a footpath.

Setting foot into this sacred grove is like entering another world forgotten by time. Trees fight for light to reach beyond the ground covering moss and weeds that covers stones laid in place 900 years ago. Lichens grow on the damp trucks of trees and moonlight spills in through them to show the interior of this holy site.

We spent some time here soaking in the atmosphere which has a great tranquility about it. So much so we actually wished we had brought our food and drinks with us to spend some more time here. We anticipate a return here.

From here we made out way to Tunbridge Wells where we sought to explore a couple of cemeteries and an old trade route.

First stop Rusthall where a cemetery defied all previous efforts at identification. Parking nearby we made our way into this unmarked and unsigned cemetery. Exploring its area we established this to be a 1920's extension to the local churchyard.

Second stop from here was a short walk down Farnham Lane to the old pack road. The pack road is clearly old with worn banks, a deep track and old trees in places lining the route. It originally ran from London to Newhaven although now many places have been tarmaced over to be used by modern traffic. The old tales of the executed are born out here at Gibbs Cross just up the road where on the crossroads the gibbetted bodies of executed highwaymen used to be left to rot. We walked about half a mile until the going got a bit heavy in the mud and then turned back.

This track has the most incredible atmosphere. The sense of so much history having passed by here is astounding. Tales of hauntings are difficult to come by but this is the kind of place that should have some.

From here another cemetery beckoned. Trinity cemetery, now called Woodbury Park Cemetery is a small isolated cemetery in the middle of modern Tunbridge Wells but when built was on the outskirts of the town. It has some interesting 'residents' including the founder of the Pharmaceutical Society. It has the appearance of open space at one end although thousands are buried here. The top end however is a crowded yet uniform arrangement of tombs with extravagant monuments reminiscent of the crowded inner London cemeteries. If ever a cemetery had an atmosphere for potential tales of hauntings it must be one that is similarly crowded. The place is a bit overlooked by houses so is a little difficult for a full study so we moved on.

For pure aesthetic appeal we had planned to visit another cemetery at Southborough however there were other persons in the area and we decided against this one. This was selected due to its over grown nature and the gothic nature of the place.

Ghost Connections wish to point out that we do not see all cemeteries as haunted places but seek to establish if any evidence can be gained in such places. There are theories that the souls of the dead remain at places where they experience great trauma or happiness and surely grieving for a loved one is one of the greatest traumas one can endure.

With a spark of inspiration we then settled on a substitute to research for the last stop of the night.

In 1853 30 Hop Pickers were drowned after their horse and cart fell into the swollen River Medway at Hartlake Bridge and buried in Hadlow churchyard. We remained here for some time the place capturing our thoughts and taking a load of interesting pictures. You could sense the fear and despair at this spot.

 

Hop Pickers

 

Memorial at Hartlake

 

Our evening complete we compared what we felt about the places we had visited and have selected a couple for future investigations. We will report these when we have spent some time there.
 
     
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