Milton Keynes may be a relatively young town but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t got its fair share of spooky stories.
With Halloween just around the corner what better time to delve into the alleged haunted history of Milton Keynes.
Let’s kick things off with the five most haunted places in MK, according to popular website Spooky Isles. Their South East correspondent Selene Paxton Brooks has chronicled quite a comprehensive list for a town which has settlements dating to the pre-Iron age.
Ye Olde Swan Tavern
Newport Road, Woughton on the Green
Woughton on the Green is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as ‘Ulchestone’ and the pub itself dates back to Tudor times. Dick Turpin the infamous highwayman is believed to have stayed here and a large stone outside the building, named Turpin’s Stone, is said to have been used by him to mount his horse quickly when fleeing the tavern. It is claimed the Green is ‘plagued by a phantom highwayman’ reported to be Turpin, mounted on a dark horse and wearing a cloak over a waistcoat. The stone itself has a curse, and folklore tells that if it is removed bad things will befall the mover. According to legend this was tested by a sceptical customer who was then involved in a car accident. Paranormal activity has been reported by many previous landlords; staked chairs have been found replaced on the floor, bread flies from kitchen shelves, and a jug landed the right way up in front of customers. Apparitions have been seen disappearing through walls, and the landlord has reported hearing a party in full swing which faded away as he went downstairs to investigate. The pub also reportedly boasts a secret tunnel, which leads from the cellar to St Mary’s Church across the way, believed to be used by monks escaping from king Henry VIII’s reformation.
Vicarage Road, Bradwell
Mentioned in the Doomsday Book as ‘Braderwelle’, Bradwell is known for more than one haunting. Bradwell Farm dates back to the 18th century, although there has been a building here since the 1600s. Many ghosts and strange happenings have been reported there and it is often a location for paranormal investigations. Shadowy figures have been reported passing through walls which once held doors, and a ‘Grey Maid’, wearing an old fashioned uniform apparently appears in one of the bedrooms. People staying in the old farmhouse have reported feelings of being watched, been blown on and woken up by an electric shock, items in rooms are moved and clothes have even been packed away for their owners over night.
The chapel of St Mary is the only remaining complete building of the original 12th century Benedictine Priory and, as you can imagine, is abound with sightings of hooded figures, said to be monks winding their way through the grounds of the now ruined abbey.
The windmill was erected in about 1817 on the banks of the Grand Union canal. Unusually it was built with a fireplace, something virtually unheard of as floor dust has the ability to explode if exposed to a naked flame. The mill is haunted by the daughter of a local miller who took her own life in 1685, after a fit of jealousy by two would-be suitors ended in the murder of one by the other. The girl’s body was found in her father’s mill after her love was hung on the local gibbet for his crime of passion. Paxton Brooks described this particular haunting as ‘strange’ because records show there was no mill on this site before the 1800s.
St Peter’s Church (Ruins)
Stanton Low, Stantonbury
Mentioned in the Doomsday Book as ‘Stantone’, little is known about the abandoned village of Stanton Low, but it seems that about 100 years ago all the inhabitants just up and left! All that is left now are the ruins of St Peter’s Church and its small walled graveyard, which Paxton Brooks says has an ‘eerie atmosphere’. The Norman church was itself deserted in 1950 when the chancel arch was removed and re-erected in another church. Even though there are no reports of ghosts or paranormal activity here Spooky Isles still lists it among the most haunting places to visit in MK.
Sightings of a ghostly lady dressed in grey were freported at the Lowndes Arms in Whaddon back in 2012. Landlord and landlady at the time Jeff and Suzy Chandler were convinced they had at least one resident spook. “My husband has seen a ghostly image of a lady dressed in grey on three occasions,” Suzy told website ukparanormalevents.
More worryingly, the pub chef witnessed a large chopping knife lift itself off the kitchen worktop and throw itself across the kitchen, she added. “The chef is constantly complaining of ‘mischief’ in the kitchen whereby items disappear then mysteriously reappear.”
Staff also reported hearing footsteps upstairs when nobody was there and a barman saw a door handle move and the door rattle when he was alone in the 17th century building. The Chandlers, who bought the pub in 2011, even called in an expert spiritualist medium who used high tech cameras and vibration meters and claimed he found ‘high levels’ of paranormal activity.
According to Julie Wison’s book ‘Haunted Places in Newport Pagnell’, it is Britain’s Ghostliest Town. And no that’s not a typo on the ‘O’ for an ‘A’. The ghost of a monk has been seen at the Kings Arms. Two ‘spirit swans’ in the river are said to be star crossed lovers who died horrible deaths while the ‘lady in grey’ is also said to be frequently spotted, particularly at Tickford Abbey. A haunted telephone exchange and the ‘plague fields’, actually Bury Field, also attract numerous ghostly sightings.
Ghost blogger Karen Brasher tells an intriguing tale of an expedition to Stony Stratford from Galley Hill - where people were executed by hanging in times gone by. Over to Karen, who was writing on her envisioningeutopia blog back in 2013.
So we were back in the mood for ghost hunting, though this time it had to be subtle, as we had families in tow. We met at St Guthlac’s Church in Passenham.IMG_0964 Apparently there is a spooky route from there to Galley Hill (where naughty people used to get hung in Milton Keynes). The church was unusual in that it had an arched roof that was bowed, rather than pointed; rather like a polytunnel. Some of the gravestones dated back to the early 18th Century. We then headed across the boggy fields towards Stony Stratford. It was an overcast day, giving a brooding feel to the walk. The wind enhanced the atmosphere, giving a haunting tune as it blew through the hollow pipes of the metal gate, between the fields. I almost expected to see the convict, Magwitch from Great Expectations, limping towards us.
We crossed the River Great Ouse, which raced past at a furious pace. It was swollen due to the huge amounts of rain we have had recently. The bridge we crossed seemed very fragile. IMG_0966 It is here, by the converted mill that Nancy Webb is supposed to haunt after being mangled in the mill wheel. Soon we were crossing the High Street in Stony Stratford, which looks like something from Dickensian times. It is here where the famous coaching inn, The Cock and The Bull can be found. Here travellers would exchange gossip and the origin of a ‘Cock and Bull story came from’ (literally meaning a load of rubbish.)
The highlight of the walk was an old church tower, St Mary’s.IMG_0972 The rest of it having been burned to the ground. Alex was unhappy as soon as we went in, stating that he didn’t like the feel of the place. IMG_0975There was a grate over the entrance of the tower, and the graves were all higgledy piggledy. Also one of the tombs had partially disintegrated. Apparently one of the gravestones started with ‘Here lies someone who did no good’ And that set the theme for the visit. Needless to say, the true ghost hunters amongst us, have put it down for a night time visit.
The Abbot of Woburn denounced the king and was hanged for his opinion; he was seen standing beside the old tree from which he hanged, yet, is no longer thought to be there. In the Butler’s Pantry, a strange brown blur is seen (said to resemble a monk). Duchess Mary Russell (who died in an aviation accident) is said to linger here; her presence is picked by a heavy sadness felt by visitors. The 6th Duchess from this court is also said to haunt here, seen as a full-bodied apparition.
Midsummer Place shopping centre
A ghostly image caught on camera in 2010 spooked CCTV workers at Midsummer Place in MK - as reported by us at the time here. A snippet of video footage sent to the MK Citizen at the time showed what appeared to be a transparent and floating white figure. Its location seems to be at the top of the stairs above the famous bubble blowing clock. The suspected spook appears to be holding a black object, perhaps a stick or a sword, in one hand. “If you look closely you can even see its fingers and even its bones,” said our source, who claims to be linked to the city centre’s CCTV department. In one shot, the figure even seems to disappear through a wall while in another shot viewers can make out what appears to be a black mask or black glasses on its head. “It looks far too detailed to be a trick of the light. I was pretty scared when I saw it – I wouldn’t like to be wandering about in that area at night,” said the source. “This place was built on farmland that was centuries old. I did some research about the history but couldn’t find any mention of a ghost. “I’m hoping Citizen readers might be able to help – or do they have any more examples of hauntings in this area?” The source claims the footage has also been leaked to two national paranormal groups who are convinced the CCTV has captured a genuine spirit. But others are more sceptical. One expert said: “The idea that ghosts should show up on photographs is more of a theory than something supported by evidence. “Apparent figures have been seen on occasions but there could be other reasons for these. This doesn’t mean ghosts can’t appear – just that there is no compelling evidence yet that they do.”