Ghost Tales from Sussex

Pevensey Ghost

A Ghost of Pevensey.

The Old Mint House stands in the High street, which is almost as historical a building as the Castle itself. As it stands to-day, it is only some six hundred vears old, but the site is believed to have been used as a Norman mint as long ago as A.D. 1076. The present building was not erected until 1342.

It is a typical large half-timbered country house of the period, with no fewer than twentv-eight rooms, all rich in oak beams in an excellent state of preservation. Edward IV stayed here in 1548 for the benefit of his health, and many are the thrilling incidents the old house has seen. It has, indeed, all the features of the authentic romance of age - subterranean passages and haunted room complete!

And this is the ghost story, It is one of the featured attractions of the house !



In 1586, it seems, a certain London merchant named Thomas Dight rented the Old Mint House from its then owner, and came to live in Pevensey with his mistress. All went well until one night Dight entered the house unexpectedly, to find the lady in the arms of a rival lover.

Furious with jealousy, Dight had them both seized, and, having cut out the woman's tongue, and bound her, hung the lover in chains from the ceiling and then had a fire lighted underneath him, compelling the woman to watch his death agonies as he died slowly from the smoke and heat.

Then, this pleasant amusement completed, Dight had the woman carried to an upper room and left, still with hands and feet tied, to die a lingering death of starvation. Her body was afterwards buried somewhere in or near the building.

This, then, is the lady who is now supposed to "haunt" the old house, though whether she makes it an annual visit or drops in more frequently is not on record ! But it is said that not many years ago a gentleman volunteered to spend a night in the haunted room to investigate—and did see a spectre—or thought he did—whichever you like to believe.
animated ghost
This, at any rate, is what he wrote about it afterwards:


. . . Having locked the door as a precaution against practical jokes, I laid down upon the couch my host had provided, but did not undress. Nothing happened, and after some time I fell asleep, but was soon disturbed by a peculiar tapping noise. It was a metallic sound occurring at irregular intervals, and seemed to come from the vicinity of the window.

Glancing in this direction I was, I must admit, rather startled to see a face pressed against the outside of the diamond-paned window. I cried involuntarily, and the " something " immediately passed through and stood near the foot of my couch, although I know that the window was securely fastened when I retired.

I was able to see the figure quite distinctly, and it was that of a young woman in a very old-fashioned dress. " She " wore a close-fitting bodice with tight sleeves, and the dress was very full upon the hips. a costume similar to that in which Queen Elizabeth is often portrayed. but with a smaller ruff around the neck.

" She " also wore a head-dress which appeared to be of stiffened lace. I am sorry that I did not notice the " lady's " actual features or expression, as after a few seconds she moved over towards the window again, and I felt so unnerved at her presence that I took the opportunity to fling myself off the sofa and rush out to awaken my host.

"I distinctly remember that the door was still locked when I reached it, and that when I returned with my host and his friend the window had not been tampered with, as some threads that I had fastened across it before retiring were unbroken."

So there you are. Take it or leave it. Wether it's true on not, it gives you the atmosphere of this charming old place - the oldest house in and around Pevensey as it is claimed to be.

Warbleton Priory

The Skulls of Warbleton Priory.

The skulls at Warbleton Priory were regarded with awe in quite recent times. These are two skulls kept in the Priory ruins (now part of a farm), and the story was that if anyone tried to move them from their place, let alone bury them, ghastly noises would break out in the night, the cattle would fall sick, and ill-luck would befall the hand that moved them.

They are said to be the skulls of a former owner of the priory, foully murdered, and of the murderer; needless to say, there was an indelible bloodstain on the floor of the room where the murder took place.

As late as 1947, a writer in the Sussex County Magazine found the legend very much alive, although he had also spoken with an old lady who had held the skulls in her lap for a full twenty minutes when she was a little girl without suffering any ill-effects or causing any calamities.

Indeed, he also tells how the skulls were once taken out of doors and lodged in an apple tree, the only result of this profanation being that a blue tit built its nest in one of them, using the eye-socket as an entrance.

Old 'Strike a Light'

The Rising Sun & Old Strike-a-Light

 The house-wreckers were very busy in Pool Valley in 1869. When Brill's Baths were erected at that date a famous old inn in the valley was removed. It was known as the 'Rising Sun', and was famous for hundreds of years as being the haunt of 'Old Strike-a-Light', a Sussex bogy man.


When Brill's Bath Company proposed to demolish the 'Rising Sun', the old sea-dogs and land-wolves of Brighton growled, shook their heads, and sucked their pipes gloomily. 'What!' said one ancient, using a wondrous series of negatives, 'who wants baths','Hasn't nobody got never a word as can't stop none of these new-fangled schemes?'

The 'Rising Sun' was supposed to be permanent, and from days out of memory a large pair of scales had stood outside the house to which the Brighton fishermen had carried their fish to be weighed. In the 'Rising Sun' time stood still, antiquity slumbered undisturbed, and the ghosts of five centuries of occupants stalked in its still-occupied rooms.

Outside, the inn reared its 300-year-old face stubbornly against the wind and sea, and generations of fishermen had rubbed their backs against its hoary walls, and worn the corners of the building to obtuseness. But the crowbars and picks had their way, and the ancient building, rich in reminiscence, was swept away.

The fishermen of the 'Rising Sun' were a tough lot and were celebrated for their 'fore-rightness' and impatience of anything approaching to high-handed treatment.

But I must return to the tale of 'Old Strike-a-Light' who haunted the 'Rising Sun'. John Ackerson Erridge in the History of Brighthelmston (1862) gives the following legend:

'A tremendous gale had ceased, but still the mountainous swellings of the sea burst violently on the shore, when the boat of Swan Jervoise came into the Brighton roadstead, having weathered the storm. The night was pitchy dark; scarcely could the outline of the horizon be perceived, and not a light illumed the blank. The surprise of Jervoise and his crew was therefore great when they beheld a stream of meteor-like splendour burst from every window of the "Rising Sun" Inn, and as suddenly all was again involved in utter darkness'.

This terrific appearance was repeated many times. Swan Jervoise was one of those men who never conjecture, but proceeded at once to ascertain a cause. He therefore, with two of his men, went ashore; but proceeded alone to the "Rising Sun" expecting to find the people up. After knocking and bawling loud enough to rouse all the dead in the Bartholomew's Chapel, without wakening the landlord, he was about to force the door, when the light again burst from the windows, and he distinctly heard a ticking as of a person striking a light with a flint and steel, each stroke producing this supernatural blaze of light.

In a moment afterwards the door opened, and a being seven feet high, wrapped in a large black cloak, with a high conical white hat, issued forth. He noticed not the poor drenched fisherman, but he strode on until he disappeared in the darkness. Jervoise's hair stood stiff on his head; his limbs trembled with fear; and he shrieked aloud with terror. The landlord heard his cry, and came down with his torch. Seeing his neighbour in such a plight, he bade him come in, roused up a fire, made him take a seat in the capacious chimney, and - having comforted him with good words - placed a rushlight on the table, and then retired to procure a jug of ale.

Jervoise, scarcely recovered from his fright, was thus again left alone. As he sat musing by the crackling fire, the dim rush throwing a fitful light around the room, he chanced to turn his head; when, from over the back of the settle, he beheld the death-like features - pallid as a cere cloth - of the tall man in the conical hat. His countenance was most ghastly, and he fixed his grey-glazed eyes full on Jervoise, and pointed to the hearth.

This was more than he could bear, he uttered one loud scream, and fell senseless to the ground. He was thus found by the landlord, who conveyed him to bed; and the next day Jervoise related the particulars to Father Anselm, of St. Bartholomew, and then expired.

But the blessed Virgin and Saint Nicholas oft times bring good out of evil; for on examining the hearth to which "Old Strike-a-Light" (as the apparition has since been called) pointed, a vast treasure was found, which is still safely deposited with the principal of this order in Normandy; nor has the "Rising Sun" since been haunted by the unholy spirit of "Old Strike-a-Light".
wavy ghost

'The faithful may therefore know there is no truth in the story that "Old Strike-a-Light" has lately been seen seated astride a barrel of beer in the cellar 'chinking a piece of money on a pewter dish.' Somewhere about 1700 'Old Strike-a-Light's' home was called 'The Naked Boy', and on the swinging board above the door was painted a naked child having a roll of cloth under his left arm and a pair of shears in his right hand.

Beneath the boy were the following lines:

'So fickle is our English Nation, I would be clothed if I knew the fashion.'

Washington Spectre

WASHINGTON - CHANCTONBURY RING


Washington is not associated with the American President, but is derived from 'Wasa-inga-tun', the settlement of the sons of Wasa. Just thought I would make that clear for our American visitors in case they thought it may have been visited or influenced by their noted coutryman.

A tradition existed here for centuries that a "treasure" was hidden in the vicinity, and very often a ghost of an old white-bearded man was seen wandering in the fields. It was supposed that this spectre was the guardian of the fabled treasure that the locals thought was buried here..

Although Chanctonbury Ring is a well known landmark and a favourite spot for picnics and days out in spring and summer, in years gone by this was a lonely and forbiding place. It was imbued with terror of a wandering ghost - an ancient ghost with a long white beard that roamed the area - even during the daylight hours. It's head was bowed low as though in search of something - a vain search of centuries.

On Chancton farm, close by, a remarkable find was uncovered. A pot of Saxon coins was unearthed in 1866, but this was unearthed by the ploughshare and not by any spectre of the fields. The vessel turned up by the plough contained around 3,000 pennies of the reigns of Edward the Confessor and King Harold.

A more interesting point of the find was that the coins were minted in some fifty different parts of the kingdom. Even the now obscure mint at Steyning had it's coins within the hoard and for a time, Saxon pennies were cheap at Washington and enough to fill a half-pint measure are said to have changed hands for a quart of "double X" brew.

Once this long sought hoard of treasure had been unearthed, the spectral figure was seen no more and reports of it's presence faded into the minds of the locals and slowly the story was consigned to the tomes of local history and surfaced just to be told around the fire to scare the audience.

The spectre is supposed , with all the assumption required to make a certainty, to have been a tenant of Chancton Manor, and, being slain at the Battle of Senlac hill near Hastings when the Normans invaded England, was able to guard his treasure in spirit only.  Wandering night after night over the lonely fields, century after century, we can only guess that he was either trying to guard his hoard or perhaps advertising it's whereabouts so that it would be uncovered.

Whatever the true facts concerning this particular story, it would be fair to say that the truth is now lost in the mists of time and but for renditions of the story such as this, who would give a thought to the lonely spectre of Chanctonbury Ring!

A Ghost of Pevensey

The Tale of The Pevensey Ghost


The Old Mint House stands in the High street, which is almost as historical a building as the Castle itself. As it stands to-day, it is only some six hundred vears old, but the site is believed to have been used as a Norman mint as long ago as A.D. 1076. The present building was not erected until 1342.

It is a typical large half-timbered country house of the period, with no fewer than twentv-eight rooms, all rich in oak beams in an excellent state of preservation. Edward IV stayed here in 1548 for the benefit of his health, and many are the thrilling incidents the old house has seen. It has, indeed, all the features of the authentic romance of age - subterranean passages and haunted room complete!

And this is the ghost story, It is one of the featured attractions of the house !



In 1586, it seems, a certain London merchant named Thomas Dight rented the Old Mint House from its then owner, and came to live in Pevensey with his mistress. All went well until one night Dight entered the house unexpectedly, to find the lady in the arms of a rival lover.

Furious with jealousy, Dight had them both seized, and, having cut out the woman's tongue, and bound her, hung the lover in chains from the ceiling and then had a fire lighted underneath him, compelling the woman to watch his death agonies as he died slowly from the smoke and heat.

Then, this pleasant amusement completed, Dight had the woman carried to an upper room and left, still with hands and feet tied, to die a lingering death of starvation. Her body was afterwards buried somewhere in or near the building.

This, then, is the lady who is now supposed to "haunt" the old house, though whether she makes it an annual visit or drops in more frequently is not on record ! But it is said that not many years ago a gentleman volunteered to spend a night in the haunted room to investigate—and did see a spectre—or thought he did—whichever you like to believe.

This, at any rate, is what he wrote about it afterwards:


. . . Having locked the door as a precaution against practical jokes, I laid down upon the couch my host had provided, but did not undress. Nothing happened, and after some time I fell asleep, but was soon disturbed by a peculiar tapping noise. It was a metallic sound occurring at irregular intervals, and seemed to come from the vicinity of the window.

Glancing in this direction I was, I must admit, rather startled to see a face pressed against the outside of the diamond-paned window. I cried involuntarily, and the " something " immediately passed through and stood near the foot of my couch, although I know that the window was securely fastened when I retired.

I was able to see the figure quite distinctly, and it was that of a young woman in a very old-fashioned dress. " She " wore a close-fitting bodice with tight sleeves, and the dress was very full upon the hips. a costume similar to that in which Queen Elizabeth is often portrayed. but with a smaller ruff around the neck.

" She " also wore a head-dress which appeared to be of stiffened lace. I am sorry that I did not notice the " lady's " actual features or expression, as after a few seconds she moved over towards the window again, and I felt so unnerved at her presence that I took the opportunity to fling myself off the sofa and rush out to awaken my host.

"I distinctly remember that the door was still locked when I reached it, and that when I returned with my host and his friend the window had not been tampered with, as some threads that I had fastened across it before retiring were unbroken."


So there you are. Take it or leave it. Wether it's true on not, it gives you the atmosphere of this charming old place - the oldest house in and around Pevensey as it is claimed to be.

David's Tale in Hove

CHILLING EXPERIENCES - Brunswick Square: A brief history

Brunswick Square, Hove, Sussex

Situated in Hove between Adelaide Crescent and Regency Square, the Square along with Brunswick Terrace was named after Caroline of Brunswick, George the Fourth's unfortunate wife.  Both Square and Terrace have had notable inhabitants.

Among them are Prince Metternich, an exile from Austria took up residence in the Terrace in 1848. Madame Basevi, wife of George Basevi, whose sister Maria married Issac Disraeli, Lord Beaconsfield's father. Lord Beaconsfield himself in later years stayed in Brighton. Admiral Westphal lived for many years at No.2.

One of the regular browsers of this website is David. He has for some time now had strange and sometimes, unpleasant experiences with what most of us would call the 'Supernatural', the 'Unknown', or just plain 'Spooky'.

I have read many books, around 150, on subjects as diverse as the supernatural, superstitions, witchcraft, sorcery, UFO's, possessions, folklore, etc, and of all these facts, stories, experiences, sightings and other reportings, I feel that most are explainable and can be attributed to natural phenomena or indeed tricks of the mind.

This does however leave a percentage that takes more explanation than we have knowledge of. I myself have experienced two such unexplained happenings, that was also experienced by others at the same time, and not just myself. Perhaps I shall get around to including those experiences on this site in future years.


David falls into this small percentage category of unexplainable events, the first of which follows;

David as already mentioned, has experienced many events of a strange nature and although these are included in the Sussex Pages, it may be more to do with David than Sussex!

This experience began when David went to visit some friends who had moved into Brunswick Square some years ago. The residence was a basement flat on the square itself, similar to many others of the Regency period in this area. Having had a disagreement with his friends some time earlier, David was hesitant about visiting them at this address. He also had an uneasy feeling about the place itself.

Being persuaded to enter the property, he set about inspecting the rooms as one does, giving the usual grunts of appreciation to the hosts. Each floor of these Regency houses have many rooms to cater for both family and servants. The basement areas would have been for the servants to carry out their duties, cook for the family and have storerooms, etc. On entering the basement area, a hallway runs the entire length of the building with rooms leading off this to the right.

At the very end of the hallway was a large doorway that had been sealed up to deny access to this part of the property (reason unknown?). To the right of this sealed doorway was a back room, completely empty, with a large window that looked out into a yard. Looking through this window one could see the part of the building that had been sealed off from use although nothing of the interior could be seen.

The only thing in this room was a built-in cupboard that had refused attempts to be opened and remained firmly closed. Trying to be helpful, David tinkered with the cupboard doors and eventually managed to free them and opened the cupboard. Unfortunately for David, what came out of the cupboard was a thick stench of what can only be described as rotting flesh. Gagging on the smell, David opened the window and leaned out to breath in the fresh air and clear his head.

On looking back into the room he saw the others standing at the far side of the room bemused by his behaviour when he felt overcome by a feeling of dread. All at once he felt sick, the hairs on his body seemed to stand on end and he broke out in goose bumps.

This was succeeded by a ghostly hand being dragged all down his back although he knew there was no one behind him as he could see the others clearly. Again the feeling of dread took over and he began to shake uncontrollably and there was a permeable evil in the air which galvanised him into leaving the building at once - he has not returned to this place since.

The residents of the flat had bad feelings about the place after his visit and strange things occured over a period of time. Windows would open mysteriously or even slam shut for no reason, things moved about the flat without explanation and a morbid feeling shrouded the place which ended up with the residents falling out with each other and eventually moved out.



There the story ends........................ or do you know different?

Skulls of Warbleton

THE SKULLS OF WARBLETON PRIORY


The skulls at Warbleton Priory were regarded with awe in quite recent times. These are two skulls kept in the Priory ruins (now part of a farm), and the story was that if anyone tried to move them from their place, let alone bury them, ghastly noises would break out in the night, the cattle would fall sick, and ill-luck would befall the hand that moved them.

They are said to be the skulls of a former owner of the priory, foully murdered, and of the murderer; needless to say, there was an indelible bloodstain on the floor of the room where the murder took place.

As late as 1947, a writer in the Sussex County Magazine found the legend very much alive, although he had also spoken with an old lady who had held the skulls in her lap for a full twenty minutes when she was a little girl without suffering any ill-effects or causing any calamities.

Indeed, he also tells how the skulls were once taken out of doors and lodged in an apple tree, the only result of this profanation being that a blue tit built its nest in one of them, using the eye-socket as an entrance.

Turkey Cock Lane

TURKEYCOCK LANE - Rye, Sussex. On A268


A tragic romance is believed to be the cause of the main ghost here. In 1379 an Augustinian Friary was built to replace an original house of 1263 which was washed away by the sea.

After only a few years one of the brothers, known as 'Cantator' because of his 'divine-like singing', fell in love with Amanda, a young and beautiful girl who lived at the Dormy House. This building can still be seen behind what remains of the Friary, facing out to the desolate Romney Marsh.

However, so-strong was their love for each other that the couple decided to elope, possibly across the channel, but their illicit scheme was crushed when the plan was discovered and the monk condemned to death.

It seems a favourite punishment of those days was to be bricked up alive and this method was used to dispose of Brother Cantator. Before death finally quietened him, madness took control and he was heard 'gobbling like a turkey'. The incident was perpetuated in the name of the street.

His death did not end his being seen for quite recently a cowled monk was observed in the chapel garden, and some years ago reports were received of seven phantom figures gliding across the grass towards the encircling brick wall. It is thought that they were the men responsible for the cruel punishment.

Part of the gardens were converted to shelters during the war and in the course of the work several skeletons were found on part of the old foundation floor of the monastery. They were all found to be in a kneeling position.

All that remains above ground is what is known as the Monastery Hall which is used for social gatherings. The sounds of the turkey noises have not been heard for many years, but one of the witnesses, Miss Marjorie Fillers, told me that at Easter 1952, when in a guest house adjoining Dormy House, she saw the figure of a 'monk in a brown habit' standing by the party wall of the next-door property. She was not scared, just intrigued, for it was many years later that she learnt of the history of the locality.



Story by Andrew Green: 'Our Haunted Kingdom'

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