Pluckley, The Most Haunted Village in England
Its that time of the year again! The time for ghosts and ghouls; thrills and scares; and, of course, tricks and (or) treats!
But how, you may be asking, does The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company have anything to do with Halloween? Nestled away in the beautiful Kentish countryside, our establishment is situated in what is now known as the most haunted village in England, Pluckley. Here in the office and down in the factory, the haunting season is taken particularly seriously owing to this very same reason!
The Spooky Village of Pluckley
Pluckley is arguably most famous for the 1990’s television show, The Darling Buds of May, starring David Jason, Pam Ferris, Philip Franks and the now-world-famous Catherine Zeta-Jones.However, the cobbled pathways and age-old streets of this village hold a far darker past.
Pluckley has earned its strange name after decades of unexplainable sightings of up to 16 known ghosts. Its title was first made official in 1989 when the Guinness World Records dubbed it with its all-too-familiar slogan. Today, hundreds upon hundreds of annual paranormal enthusiasts flock to the village in the faint hope of catching their very own glimpse of one of Pluckley’s many ‘phantoms’. During the month of October, in particular, it is not uncommon to witness an increased police presence in Pluckley and the surrounding areas, largely owing to the sheer influx of visitors alone.
The Dering Woods: or perhaps better known in the paranormal world as the ‘screaming’ woods is especially popular, with many ghost tour companies offering trips to this creepy woodland. There is even the chance to stay overnight if you are feeling brave enough. If you prefer to stay within the compounds of the village itself, however, you may still have the opportunity to experience your own ghostly anomaly.
Just last year (2016), an infamous episode of Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live was filmed in and around Pluckley, starring TV presenter and ‘footballer’s wife’, Christine Lampard, as well as Cold Feet actor, John Thomson, and Chloe Madeley, daughter of Richard and Judy. Prior to this, an episode of BBC’s Top Gear, with former presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May saw the trio spending an uncomfortable (and hilarious, from our perspective) night locked in their cars in the middle of the screaming woods. Whether these programmes - along with many others - were enjoyed for scares or for sheer laughs is very much dependent on the individual viewer!
Ghost Stories and Tales
Not one; not two; not even three - but sixteen ghosts supposedly reside in Pluckley! With each respective story as spooky as the last, it is no surprise that everyone here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company is almost always on the lookout! (We are certainly not exempt of ghostly presences here in the factory).
Some of these stories date back hundreds of years, while others are surprisingly and perhaps most terrifyingly - far more recent encounters! While ‘sightings’ are generally considered ‘infrequent’ in this day and age, the many ghost stories that have long since circulated the village have, for centuries, played a crucial role in Pluckley’s fascinating and somewhat alarming history!
The Horse-Drawn Coach: One of Pluckley’s more renowned ghostly visions is that of the ‘Horse Drawn Coach,’ which has been witnessed at various locations around the village for more than 20 years. In early November 1997, one terrified resident claimed to have had their car filled with the distinct noise of “horse hooves on a cobbled street” as she drove home.
On another occasion, a woman was returning home from babysitting her granddaughter when the disturbing image of a coach pulled by horses could be seen passing her on the road opposite. She would later describe this haunting event with such vivid detail, including bright lights coming from the carriage windows, and the same, chilling sound of horse hooves on cobbles.
The ‘White Lady’ Ghost: Another infamous ghost is that of ‘The White Lady’, who is known to frequent the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, as well as previously being sighted in the Dering family library in the manor of Surrenden Dering. This was at least until it was destroyed in a fire in 1952. It is believed that she lived during the 12th Century, and when she passed, had been buried in a white gown.
During the First and Second World Wars, the manor of Surrenden Dering had been host to a U.S Embassy. It was here that one well-known and particularly spooky tale took place, involving a Mr. Walter Winans (1852-1920) late one Christmas Eve. Mr. Winans had wondered the dark, foreboding rooms of the manor alone with his hunting rifle when he found himself confronted by the White Lady in the library. Petrified, he proceeded to take a shot at her! The shot passed through the apparition and she vanished through a panel wall - an area of which supposedly led to a tunnel linking the house to the Church.
The Ghost Before the Storm: Better known as ‘the Miller’, this particular ghost is said to ominously appear just prior to a thunderstorm! There are many variations of this story, but the most famous one refers to the black silhouette of the former Miller, Richard ‘Dicky’ Buss, who apparently haunts the ruined windmill near a house called The Pinnocks. The mill was shut down by Buss in the 1930’s and was subsequently ravaged by a fire in 1939 after being struck by - you guessed it - lightning. However, it seems his ‘spirit’ refused to leave, and remains there to this day.
The ‘Tudor Lady’ Ghost: Sightings of this ghost can be traced over 250 years, yet it is thought the woman behind the apparition originates from, unsurprisingly, the Tudor period. It is said that a woman died in a house called Rose Court after swallowing a bunch of poisonous berries. The lady, thought to be a mistress of a Dering family member, can be heard calling for her two dogs between the afternoon hours of 4pm and 5pm - the alleged timing of her untimely death!
Don't Forget Pluckley Tea
Whether you are a paranormal enthusiast or sceptic, visiting ‘Pluckley - the most haunted village in England’ during the Halloween period boasts hours of fun either skulking through the ominous darkness of the ‘screaming’ woods at night, or trekking the idyllic countryside on a mild autumn day. If you really wish to fully immerse yourself in the spooky incidents of Pluckley however, then there are many other spine-tingling stories circulating the village with hundreds of residents each having their own personal account of a ghostly confrontation.
Just be sure to drop by The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company to pick up your favourite brew during your visit… because what ghost sighting is without a nice cup of tea to calm your nerves afterwards? Maybe a cup of our White Lady Tea or our famous Pluckley Tea?