The Kent Website since 1999
By Neil Arnold
When Halloween comes to Kent, pranksters flock to the areas they believe to be the most haunted. It’s the same throughout the country, as youngsters and adults alike, without taking into consideration the historical beauty or factual events which pertain to an eerie area, congregate blindly, waiting for a glimpse of the local bogeyman or misty apparition.
Locations such as Blue Bell Hill near Maidstone, and Pluckley, near Ashford have suffered these fates time and time again over the years, as their rural beauty takes a backward step so that excited teenagers and childish adults can gather and ruin any hope of a genuine investigation. The usual programmes saturate the television screen, many distorting the lore of these genuinely eerie places, as they attempt to create a vivid atmosphere despite the fact that the truth they know so little about is far weirder than the fiction.
Blue Bell Hill is haunted by a number of ghosts but over the years its reputation has been tainted by the power of the urban legend which has led many to believe in the corny, vague and empty belief that all cases involve a woman who thumbs a ride on a dark stretch of road, asks to be taken to a specific area and disappears before the driver reaches the destination. In some instances it is said that the woman leaves behind a coat, and the motorist attempts to deliver it to her home only to be told she died many years ago. Much of this is a falsity, a campfire tale told the world over and distorted in order to fit in with that particular village, town or belief system.
The truth behind Blue Bell Hill’s phantom also goes beyond the theory that the figure(s) sighted in the vicinity are the victims of a road accident which took place on the hill during the November of 1965. However, ask anyone to explain what they know about the area, and they will churn out the same story time and time again, claiming that a person they knew, or a friend of a friend they know once picked up the girl. The Blue Bell Hill enigma reached a peak around 1992 when several motorists in the vicinity claimed to hit a woman who disappeared under the car, only to be not there when the shaken driver went to look. Since then, other witnesses have claimed to have had terrifying encounters with hag-like spectres, in one instance a male hiker, and several other females. The area has also been made creepier by the number of exotic big, black cats seen, which, in a clandestine world may well be seen to accompany the crones on those misty lanes in the same way witches are said to be partnered by black domestic cats.
The same misinterpretations can be applied to the spirits of Pluckley, said to number between twelve and fourteen, from the Screaming Man to the Monk of Graystones, the Red and White Ladies as well as the Watercress Woman, among others. A local historian who delved into the history of Pluckley, believes that some eighty ghosts inhabit the dark lanes, the old buildings and the foggy churchyard, but the well-known spooks have become immortal, frozen by word of mouth in some kind of mystical, and mythical stance. Those who flock to the Black Horse Public House will be unaware of the little girl said to haunt the bar, or the phantom hound that drifts through the headstones next door.
In some ways, Kent is perfect for those who seek a bit of fun during the witching hour. The naivety of those who park by the roadside at Blue Bell Hill, or stroll amongst the gravestones of St. Nicholas Church is accepted, for them the magic lurks in the midnight air despite the fact that they not know what to wait for, or what to seek, and if they do encounter some frightening figure, how are they going to react ? For many, a rustle in the bushes, or shadow on the wall is their ghostly experience, something for them to pass on to their friends and family, who will in turn investigate these areas innocently, but never be quite aware of what powers really lurk beneath the sacred ground and ancient mounds. Folklore is a potent aspect of our society, despite much of it being based on rumour, but on Halloween, the fires are stoked and the flames grow higher, and fear drives the public to these places like moths to that flame.
In Britain Halloween is not taken as seriously as it should be, and in turn the ghosts and spooky locations suffer at the hands of those all too eager to scare themselves stiff with tales they never understood in the first place. This is a shame when one considers that what these haunted areas have to offer is uniquely terrifying.
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Strange but true
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Kent 51 is based on unexplained phenomena that we have discovered or our users have drawn our attention to. The breadth of the features is quite broad and includes; Kent big cats, sightings of ghosts and hauntings. Some features are generic but others are very specific to Kent such as the Black Dog on the Pilgrims Way, The ghosts of Dover Castle, the scariest place in Kent and the very worrying night time silent helicopter flights over Maidstone and Medway.
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