Up at Littlecote

Littlecote legend

The evening was already falling; the shades of autumn were shrouding the wooded hill above the Kennet, as a traveller halted to consider his way to the town of Hungerford. He had managed to gain access to the park, but could not discover any road out of it without rendering himself liable to an accusation of trespass. Here, dressed in fading light, the leaves rustled with an ominous manner, though scarce a breath of wind fanned his cheeks; and as the man thought of retracing his steps, a light suddenly twinkled out from an old manor house in the valley beckoning him to follow it.

He was about to descend the hill through the wood; indeed, he had already taken some steps in that direction, when he became conscious of someone by his side. The evening was still sufficiently light to enable him to see anyone near him, but although he fancied he could hear, and even perceive the disturbance of the leaves by his side, he could see no one.

All this while the dim light still burned in the solitary window of the house. What did it portend? Suddenly, as with the sweeping by of a mist, the intruder became aware of a female figure with a child in her arms passing before him. She was grey and silent, so too the infant. So surprised was he, that he checked himself suddenly, fell heavily, and lay for a while half-stunned.

In this plight, he was found by a labourer, who assisted him to the high road, and there he soon gained shelter, but his guide shook his head when he spoke of the woman, and hinted at some terrible deed in which the “old family” had been implicated.

“That maybe were the haunted room in which ye saw the light,” remarked the man. “Anyone will tell ye the tale of it. It’s well known hereabouts, and they say it’s true. P’r’aps she appeared to you, sir?!”

Instantly, the traveller’s mind was overwhelmed by such an inconceivable thought. Did something reach out to him? Something of the past? With some trepidation he sought to elicit all the facts from the labourer regarding the mystery — and the particulars follow in due order. Continue reading

A Tale of Chirbury has been published in ‘Darker Times Anthology, Vol 3’ – Amazon Kindle and Paperback

Darker Times Anthology Volume Three


The short stories here range from the plain gruesome to the psychologically sinister, black comedy to gritty drama, the playfully spooky to the downright disturbing. The winning stories were picked for their style, their technique, their originality, or their ability to invoke something ‘dark’ within the reader: fear, despair, doubt, regret, loneliness, pain. These aren’t just stories that will have you wondering what’s lurking under your bed or hiding in your closet; they’ll have you looking into your own life, peering into your past, glancing at your own personal ghosts. When you start delving into the darker times, it’s hard to get back to the light.

A Tale of Chirbury by PJ Hodge

A door to Chirbury Church

A Tale of Chirbury

The ineffaceable stain (The legend of Eastbury House)

Eastbury House, Dorset

Precised from John H Ingram: “The Haunted Homes and family traditions of Great Britain” Gibbings & Company, London, 1897.

Eastbury House near Blandford in Dorset, owing to the galaxy of famous names surrounding its story, must take a prominent place among the haunted homes of the country. Its career as a residence was short but brilliant.

Eastbury was begun by Lord Melcombe in 1718. The park and grounds were laid out on the same magnificent scale as the house, no expense being spared ; trees half a century old, and some tons in weight, were transported bodily from distant woods and replanted at Eastbury.

In 1763, a change came over the scene, and Eastbury House was destroyed even more rapidly than it had been created; all the rooms were dismantled, and the splendid furniture scattered to the winds. Twelve years later the ruin was consummated, the house being pulled down, and the beautiful and costly materials disposed of.

The ghostly legend attached to the house is said to be firmly believed in by the inhabitants of Grenville and its neighbourhood, and is to the following effect.
Lord Melcombe advanced considerable sums of money to his steward William Doggett. The greater part of this loan Dogget is said to have parted with to a brother, who got into “difficulties” and was utterly powerless to repay it. In course of time Lord Melcombe required repayments of his money, and Doggett, unable to comply with the demand, was reduced to great extremity.

The only expedient Doggett could find to meet his liabilities was to appropriate some of the building materials and sell them on his own account. Shortly before Lord Melcombe came down to receive his money, Doggett’s courage failed; probably he had a much smaller sum with which to repay his master than he owed; he could not pay him, and, therefore, shot himself.

It was in a marble-floored room that Doggett committed suicide, and it is said the stains of his blood are still visible. One might say that the stains of murder or suicide are ineffaceable!

Since this tragedy, Doggett’s ghost has lingered about Eastbury, and the tradition is that, headless, he drives about the park in a spectral coach and four driven by a coachman in livery. The troubled spirit appears to derive a bitter satisfaction from contemplation of the decayed grandeur of the once proud house, now reduced to scarcely a shadow of its former grandeur.

But it is many years now since the apparition has made itself visible, though the taint of ghostly inhabitation still clings to the remaining wing of the house. On dark nights, when all else is still, mysterious movements are heard, the doors open and shut unaccountably, pointing to the interference that the troubled spirit has not yet served its term of earthly wanderings.

Eastbury House, Dorset

The Flames of Stalbridge Manor – a ghost story

The Flames of Stalbridge Manor

An extract from The Flames of Stalbridge Manor:

‘Instinctively, I turned and there before me was the most horrific vision. For it was just that, a picture of intense suffering but one completely noiseless as if it were a silent dream. The flames leapt around the woman, ripping holes through her torso, lifting and wrapping the strands of her hair into a glowing ball of fire. I could see her lips contort as if to scream but no words came forth, only a splatter of fire upon flesh. I grappled with the beam behind me as if to force myself away but I was gripped by fear and found myself bound by the spectacle. The burning figure approached reaching out towards the beam that supported me, but without firmness she passed through it toppling into the void. I turned to see the flames extinguish in the darkness leaving no trace of the poor woman. Suppressing a shriek, I fell to my knees, peering at the open doorway, watching it shut violently upon itself.’

Walk with me (to the estuary) – a ghost story for Christmas

walk with me...

A bolt is thrust aside and one half of a stable door swings back. The sound of a sharp kick announces the peeling back of the second. A bulk of a man steps through carrying a thick meshed bundle of sticks and logs searching for a suitable spot to dump the damp load; his nose is held aloft, at a distance, enduring the sickly-sweet aroma of the mildewed bark. His face fidgets nervously until the wood is set down on a sheet of newspaper, neatly dragged into position by his foot. The dispatching of the load relieves his body, but his expression still retains the weary slump it entered with.

It is almost time for Manning to leave, a suitable moment to consider the sweet restorative powers of a few days by the coast. And with this thought, he finds his spirits lifting. It has been several years since he last visited Leet and walked its impressive shores; he has missed the place. No longer resisting, he succumbs to the pleasantness teasing his lips.

Perhaps you know Leet? It is a south facing sandy beach next to the entrance of the Beaulieu River in Hampshire, a landscape rich in character, with great stretches of open and unspoilt countryside.

Lete, walk with me (to the estuary)

But it is the agents of erosion that have defined this sea-place. The shore is littered with corpses: trees that have finally, but grudgingly, relinquished their fragile grip on the sandy soil, just a few metres above. Tendrils of seeping rainwater and the gnawing effect of the wind have gradually removed the earth, exposing roots to the mercy of encroaching elements. It is a natural decay, but not one that removes all evidence of existence; for old trunks lie entombed in wispy layers of sand, creating fragile barrows on the shore. In the early hours of a wintry morning, the landscape transforms into a surprisingly gloomy affair; the dead bodies of trees are thrust into the greyness, and any living thing roaming amongst the decay looks quite lost, as lost as a child. Continue reading

The Terror of Tichborne (a generational curse)

tichborne 1

Listen …can you hear her?

Strain your ears, press them close to the soil and you will. That wretched wheeze; a drawn-out throttling of the throat that sounds like murder. Then comes the coughing; a diseased hack-hack-hack, like a seal gasping for air.

I am dying.

She is dying; but slowly.

What an odd place to die.

Tiny trickles of earth spill over the back of her legs; pathetic limbs angrily propelling her body through a plough-ravaged soil.

I will not let him win.

She has crawled this field many times before, every accursed March 25th for the past eight hundred years.

And crawl it she must, for without her spirit, and the curse that is renewed each and every Lady Day, Tichborne would be nothing more than a dream of the past.

So, let us bless the soul of Lady Mabella and allow her to tell her tale, for it serves to reveal the true terror of the place that was once her home. Continue reading