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St. Marys Church, Eastwell, Kent

20th September 2014
 

 

St. Mary's Church at Eastwell has the classic 'Haunted Ruin' appearance of Gothic legend.

Steeped in history the church dates from the 14th Century and now only consists of the western walls and tower, along with the old south porch and fragments of the east and south walls.

In 1555 the burial register records the burial of Richard Plantagenet, reputed to be the surviving son of Richard III who escaped the carnage of Bosworth Field to live his life as a recluse on the Eastwell Estate.

The same century saw the opening of a vault under the south chancel that would lead to the internment of members of the Finch family. Members of the Royal Courts their splendid memorial is now removed from its plinth to the Victoria and Albert Museum along with the later 'White Lady' memorial of Emily Georgiana Countess of Winchilsea who passed in her life of tragedy as a Kleptomaniac ending early.

The church was not, as popularly recorded, destroyed by a bomb in the war, but undoubtedly weakened by the army tank maneuvers in the park combined with water soaked up by the churches chalk structure since the 40 acre lake was built next to it in the 1840's, it crumbled in 1951 with what is described as a terrible roar by a witness who saw the collapse.


 
 
 

 

  The Investigation
  Aim:

To investigate reports of paranormal activity at St. Mary's Church.

Background:

Ghost Connections previous visits were of interest and prompted a return visit especially in the light of a corroborated witness account sent to us recently:

Approx time: 10.30 to 11.30pm

It was in October 2010 on a Friday I believe.

We had parked in the little car park opposite the church. The car was facing towards the church and we were sat in the car with the lights on as it was dark and we so we could see what was around us. As we were mid conversation we heard what sounded like someone running past the front of the car from the right to the left on the road. We both heard it and was looking to see if perhaps someone had run past us but there was no one there. It was so clear, and we even tested it ourselves to see if was the sound of footsteps that we heard, and the sound was pretty much exactly the same. Except the footsteps we heard we slightly heavier.

A little while later we were outside the car talking and I decided to walk a little way down the road in the direction of the bridge over the lake when I heard what sounded like a car or a horse and cart coming fast towards me. I jumped out of the road thinking that a car was coming towards me but there was nothing there. It sounded like it was coming down the road in our direction. I turned to my friend who had heard the exact same thing like it came straight past him. We got back in the car and left pretty quickly as we were spooked out.

Yet another report of the ghostly carriage?

Apparatus:

Video camera-
Sony DCR HC-62 with night vision and Sony HVL-IRM IR light
Sony DCR-DVD110E with night vision and Sony HVL- IRM IR light

Digital Camera:
Fuji Fine Pix S1600
Fuji Fine Pix S5500
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ-38 X 2
Fujifilm f47 fd
Canon DSLR 1000D

Voice Recorders -
Olympus VN-2100PC
Olympus DM20
HNSAT DVR958
Olympus LS-11
3 x cheap, Chinese but very effective voice recorders


Team:

Kim
Dean
Ian
Graham
Dave


Method:

Using visual and scientific methods combined with spiritual information investigate the background to alleged paranormal phenomena at this venue.


Investigation:

For this return trip to this, one of our favourite locations, we aimed to visit in the afternoon to do some daylight video recording for the new format investigation movies and spend a little time around the ruins with some daylight investigation opportunities available before taking a break for some dinner to return in the evening.

The afternoon weather was fine and dry although cloudy with sunny spells. In the early evening this became rather wetter with fine drizzle which would later clear. There was no wind to speak of so conditions were ideal for lack of most ambient noise from tree movement.

Results
During the afternoon session we all remarked how peaceful and tranquil it is there during the daylight hours and we did all our filming successfully with minimal interruption from walkers and the like. After concluding the planned filming we spent some time sitting around the ruins and did not comment on anything unusual.

In the evening we returned and found that initially little unusual was noticed. As we had got out of the car there was an amount of moisture in the air. Fog or rain it was difficult to tell so we decided to 'travel light' initially and stood around to the south of the ruined south aisle.

There was little to comment on at this time although Graham did give the name 'Ernulf' of which more later. Everyone agreed we felt watched and almost like the was another person standing very close to us. Sounds of movement in the undergrowth to the east of the church were also heard.


It was then that illuminations of the top of the tower were observed coming from the east. These were repeated with increasing regularity until the team moved out into open country to attempt to find the source of the illuminations.

Having concluded this expedition in the dark into the grounds of the manor house for a better view the team returned to the investigation site at the church. The rain eased off and it was decided to take a small break before breaking out the chairs for the second session.

The visibility was good unless peering into undergrowth but on open ground within the ruins most areas could be seen well with the naked eye.

Having set up camp in the west end of the south aisle of the church ruins the investigation progressed in rapid fashion from this point onwards.

Rustling noises of movement were heard from the area of the footpath gate and Plantagenet tomb.

Loud footsteps were heard from this location to walk across the church towards the team stopping only just short of them.

Sounds of movement and general disturbance, even of things being moved about, emanated from the mortuary chapel.

Kim saw a solid dark human shape walk across the area of the ruins and Dean reported seeing another immediately afterward in another area of the ruins.

Illuminated areas of the newly cleared south wall were seen to progress their movement slowly from left to right as we viewed them.

As quick as it started this activity stopped and nothing else was sensed, seen or heard.

Conclusions
Initial afternoon feelings of tranquility seem to suit this place. Lovely church ruins sat by the lake with wildfowl doing their thing away from the sound of traffic and civilisation. Why this should change after dark is another theory! The darkness, the trees, nearness to water, or even the tales of hauntings – perhaps they all play a part on our psyche and make it seem a different place.

Graham came up with the name Ernulf. Sounding somewhat Saxon in origin and knowing that the church was late Medieval this needed a little more research than the potted history of the site known to the team.

Here's what history says of Ernulf -

Ernulf studied under Lanfranc at the monastery of Bec, entered the Benedictine Order, and lived long as a brother in the monastery of St-Lucien, Beauvais. At the suggestion of Lanfranc he went to England, some time after 1070, and joined the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury. He studied under Ivo of Chartres, and was considered an expert on canon law.
Ernulf was made prior by Archbishop Anselm, and in 1107 Abbot of Peterborough where he was one of the teachers of Hugh Candidus;on 28 September 1114 he was invested as Bishop of Rochester by Ralph d'Escures Archbishop of Canterbury, and was consecrated on 26 December 1115.
While at Canterbury, Ernulf had taken down the eastern part of the church which Lanfranc had built, and erected a far more magnificent structure. This included the famous crypt (Our Lady of the Undercroft), as far as Trinity Tower. The chancel was finished by his successor Conrad. The chapel of St. Andrew is also part of Ernulf's work.
At Peterborough and , Ernulf had the old buildings torn down and erected new dormitories, refectories, chapter house, etc.
Ernulf is either the author of the Textus Roffensis (a large collection of documents relating to the Church of Rochester); "Collectanea de rebus eccl. Ruffensis" or it was compiled for his use. He also authored several canonical and theological treatises.
Ernulf died on 15 March 1124.

So where does this leave us with the history of the settlement of Eastwell itself and its history beyond that of the church?

Hasted may tell us from his surveys conducted in the 18th Century. In 1798 he wrote the Eastwell part saying:
EASTWELL is the last parish remaining to be described in this hundred. It is written in antient records, Est-welles, and Estwelle, and sometimes only Welles; taking its name from the springs, with which it is watered, such being called by the Saxons, wells; and it has the addition of East from its situation, and to distinguish it from the adjoining parish of Westwell.

The Doomsday Survey (1086) says:
Hugo de Montfort holds one manor, Estwelle, which Frederic held of king Edward. It was taxed at one suling. There are three yokes within the division of Hugo, and the fourth yoke is without, and is of the fee of the bishop of Baieux. The arable land is three carucates in the whole. In demesne there are two carucates, and five villeins, and five borderers having one carucate and an half. There are ten servants, and twelve acres of meadow, and a wood. In the time of king Edward the Confessor, it was worth seventy shillings, and afterwards thirty shillings, now seventy shillings.

So there was no church at Eastwell in 1086 and these ruins are believed to be 14th century. There is no record of anything earlier. This does not preclude that fact that in his role as prior he may have visited Eastwell prior to 1107 but this is merely suggestion.

So, back to the investigation.

The tower illuminations were found to be caused by a lightning storm above the cloud level that was intermittently causing white flashes of light to illuminate the sky. Due to the trees around the church only the top of the tower was subject to this until we moved into open land to witness the source for ourselves.

The multitude of noises heard around the footpath and tomb were loud enough to have been caused by something human or large animal however nothing was seen either naturally or by torchlight when the area was explored.

The noises from the chapel are a little more difficult. The chapel is the converted south porch and has two single light windows which have no glass. There is one entrance which is gates with an iron gate. Small creatures or birds could get in but nothing else. There are no loose objects to move about within the chapel. The source was not identified for these noises.

The footsteps heard were loud and distinct. The area they occurred in was plainly visible to all and yet nothing was seen to cause them. They remain unexplained.

This leaves us with two figures. Each seen independent of each other but in circumstances that could be part of the same movement across the church due to Kim and Dean sitting in different positions facing different areas of the church.

The movement of illuminations across the walls were found to be a turning car within the grounds of the manor house.

The footage captures these moments and the teams reactions. No other events were captured.

During our stay a certain amount of other information was forthcoming to the team of a clairvoyant nature. As Ghost Connections conducts scientifically based investigations we do not publish such observations, however, this information is held on a separate database and may prove interesting when compared to other peoples experiences. Should you wish to discuss this information please email us enquiries@ghostconnections.com

 
   
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