TRUE GHOST STORIES FROM DEVON

Haunted Devon possesses a landscape that is imbued with legend. It a county of contrasts. Fringed by rugged coastline, its hinterland is comprised of foreboding moors, lovely valleys. sleepy village, babbling rivers and brooks, not to mention large towns the historic streets of which are steeped in history.

The ghosts that haunt Devon are as varied as the landscape they roam. Devilish hounds, sullen grey ladies, fearsome spectres and even a pair of hairy hands are all part of the rich and eventful folklore and legend of haunted Devon.

So, enjoy this collection of ghost stories and legends from Devon and be sure to visit the locations should time allow.

HAUNTED DEVON - TRUE GHOST STORIES

Saltram House, Plympton, Plymouth, Devon

Incorporating parts of a Tudor building that formerly stood on its site, Saltram House is a magnificent Georgian mansion that overlooks the Plym estuary in Devon, and which is set in beautiful gardens, surrounded by 500 glorious acres of landscaped parkland.

It was recently used as the location for Norland Park in the film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslett, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.

Its grandiose interior boasts ornate plasterwork, exquisite hand-painted Chinese wallpaper, several portraits by Joshua Reynolds, a friend of the Parker family whose house this was, and if none of these are considered justifiable reasons to pay a visit, then there is always the chance of an encounter with several ghosts that can chill the marrow and perplex the mind in equal proportion.

Legend holds that at some stage in the distant past a kitchen maid was murdered in the house.

The reason for her death, and the identity of the crime’s perpetrator are now just two of the house’s forgotten secrets.

What is certain, however, is that her ghost still roams the property, as a hooded figure in a dark cloak who has glides across a corridor and melts through the solid door that leads into the dining room, although she never re-appears on the other side of the door.

Another mysterious visitor to Saltram House is the ghostly child whose apparition a resident once woke to find sitting at the foot of her bed. The child said nothing, sat motionless for a few moments and then melted away into thin air. .

The Three Crowns Hotel, Chagford, Devon

The Three Crowns dates back to the 13th century.

For several hundred years it was the family home of the Whiddons, one of whom, Mary, achieved local notoriety in 1641 when she was shot dead on the church steps on her wedding day.

No sooner had the village recovered from this tragedy than, two years later, the young Royalist poet Sidney Godolphin was caught up in a local Civil War skirmish and, riddled by musket fire, was carried to the hotel’s porch where he died in agony.

Time moved on and the ancient property evolved into a charming old world inn, its solid granite walls, splendid mullioned windows, massive oak beams and huge fireplace being complemented by, of course, a resident ghost, said to be the sombre shade of the tragic Sidney Godolphin.

He wanders the hotel’s cosy interior resplendent in full Cavalier dress and sporting a handsome plumed hat. He makes fleeting appearances, occasionally startling witnesses by suddenly manifesting in front of them and fixing them with a sad stare.

Those who encounter him are moved to admiration by his piece de resistance of walking through granite walls that are so thick that, even though he is a ghost, the feat of passing through them is little short of miraculous!

Waterman's Arms, Bow Bridge, Devon

The Waterman’s Arms enjoys a secluded and picturesque riverside location at the head of Bow Creek.

It has, over the years, seen service as a smithy, a brew house and even a haunt of the dreaded press gangs.

It is also haunted by the melancholic spectre of a grey lady who wanders the premises clutching a bunch of keys.

She is known as Emily, and may have been a former lady of the house, or perhaps just a humble serving wench.

Nobody knows for sure, and since those whom she honours with her presence do not realize that she is a ghost until she begins 'dissolving' in front of them, she is allowed to wander at will until she chooses to return to whichever dimension and whatever era her journey began.

St Brannoc's Church, Braunton, Devon

This delightful church possesses many interesting features, including numerous carvings depicting the miracles of its founder, St Brannoc - a sixth-century missionary who is said to have sailed to Devon from Wales in a stone coffin!

He built this church on the site where he found a sow suckling her piglets, just as a vision had foretold.

He won over the local’s by teaching them how to till the earth and used two wild deer to pull his plough.

On one occasion, a neighbour stole Brannoc’s cow, slaughtered it, cut it into pieces and proceeded to boil it in a tasty stew.

Alerted by the mouth-watering aroma of the simmering bovine, the saint called out the cow’s name, whereupon the beast re-assembled itself, jumped from the pot and returned to her rightful owner.

When he died, Brannoc was buried inside the church where his likeness is depicted on a 16th century bench-end.

The Hairy Hands

Travelling along the B3212 from Princetown to Two Bridges, you pass through remote and desolate moorland and can feel a sense of trepidation even on the brightest of summer days.

In June 1921 the medical officer of nearby Dartmoor Prison was riding his motorcycle along this stretch of road when, as he descended the hill where a little bridge takes the road over the East Dart, he suddenly swerved causing his motorbike to crash killing him instantly.

Not long afterwards an army officer suffered a similar accident at more or less the same spot but survived and was able to reveal that a pair of large muscular and very hairy hands had seized hold of his own hands forcing him into his almost fatal swerve.

A couple who had parked their caravan near to the spot had a similar encounter when the wife woke to find a big hairy hand clawing its way up the outside window. She had the presence of mind to make the sign of the cross whereupon the demonic digits disappeared.

There can be little doubt that the hairy hands are one of the strangest and most bizarre tales to come out of Haunted Devon!