Whenever one thinks of ghosts in the Cotswolds, Prestbury, just outside Cheltenham springs to mind, as it is reportedly home to more than a dozen wandering spirits. One of the most infamous is the Black Abbot, who is regularly spotted in the church and churchyard, always walking in the same direction.
The Cotswolds, and especially the north of the area from Stow-on-the -Wold to Tewkesbury, was a focus of much of the fighting during The English Civil War. Royalists, under Charles I, were desperately trying to retain their hold on as much of the country as possible in the face of sustained and growing opposition from Cromwell and his puritan Roundheads. Many battles were fought in the local villages and as a result there are tales of hauntings, and executions.
In Shaw Green Lane, Prestbury, the charging horseman can be seen galloping through. In addition, according to local legend one can fall across the Headless Horseman, a royal dispatch rider whom the Roundheads of Prestbury are reputed to have beheaded during the Civil War.
The picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water is extremely popular with visitors due the River Windrush, it’s charming Cotswold cottages and pretty little pedestrian bridges over the water. However, it also hides a few spooky tales of murder, battle, witches and persecution.
In the historic market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, the label of the town’s most haunted building belongs to Manor House Hotel nestled on the high street. The Manor House Hotel on the High Street, dating back to the 16th century, has a gory history.
Before the second World War the building was owned for over a century by the Creswykes, a family of wealthy landowners. Towards the end of the 17th century, Dame Creswyke was murdered in the house and her ghost haunts the hotel still. The best sighting of Dame Creswyke was in 1987 when her ghostly figure was seen at the front door.
The Old Bell Hotel in the Cotswold market town of Malmesbury, is one of the country’s oldest hotels, when hosting guests from 1220!
The ghost spotted most often is that of the ‘Lady in Grey’ who glides silently and sadly. Her apparition can be called up upon repetition of her name, thrice.
In the charming town of Burford, visitors can are treated to beautiful architecture and a delightful High Street with many interesting boutique shops. The Priory housed an Order of Anglo-Catholic nuns until very recently when it was sold to a private owner. It , together with the nearby Old Rectory, have reputations for being haunted. Stories abound of the sounds of monks chanting the various Offices through the day.
The willowy figures of an old game keeper and a small monk have also ben seen wandering as slightly lost souls.
Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe is exquisite and vibrates with history past and present. It is the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within its grounds, the sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII Katherine Parr. Her tomb is situated in the private chapel to the castle. Katherine’s ghost is said to still wander the corridors of the castle and there have been frequent reports of a tall lady in a green dress seen around the castle nursery. Her appearances are often accompanied by the faint smell of apple-scented perfume and occasionally accompanied by sobs of a crying child. Katherine died after Henry’s death of complications postpartum.
Take a stroll through any of these beautiful places in the Cotswolds this All Hallows, and you may commune with a lost soul…….