When I hear the words ‘ghost’ and ‘Christmas,’ I automatically think about my favorite Christmas story, A Christmas Carol, and Scrooge’s nightmare evening of being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. But did you know other Christmas ghost stories aren’t full of the spirit of the season? You may not since hauntings are far from most people’s minds during Christmas. Yet, I found some supernatural stories that only occur during this time of year.
Some creepy paranormal occurrences tied to Christmas revolve around certain places that, for one reason or another, become haunted at Christmas time and have so for a very long time. England has many of these.
Hawkhurst Road, Marden, Kent, England
One of these Christmas haunting locations is Hawkhurst Road in Marden, Kent. It is an ordinary road like any other in the area with one exception: On one dark Christmas Eve in the 18th century, a notorious highwayman named Gilbert stopped a horse-drawn carriage carrying a man and his daughter.
According to the tale, the bandit had the daughter step out of the carriage. Before he could get to the father, the horses spooked and galloped away, leaving the daughter alone with this murderous thief. To make matters worse, the girl realized this was the same highwayman who murdered her brother on this same road the year before.
This young woman was no victim. She pulled a knife from her bag and lashed out, plunging the implement deep Gilbert’s side.
As the highwayman clutched his bleeding wound, the daughter ran into the surrounding wilderness without looking back. Sometime later, the coach returned to find the highwayman sprawled out along the side of the road in blood-saturated mud, having succumbed to his wounds. The father and others returned and unceremoniously buried him on the same spot in a shallow, unmarked grave. Supposedly, they also found the daughter, cowering amongst the moon-touched trees and stark raving insane.
Locals say the tall, shadowy form of the highwayman Gilbert stalk the road to this day, terrifying motorists. Every Christmas Eve, that fateful night plays out again and again, as if on an eternal loop, perhaps imbued into the very location itself and only visible on this one night.
Roos Hall, Suffolk, England
In Suffolk, England is the stately Roos Hall. Built in the 16th century, it is an imposing building. Some say it has an indefinable eerie ambiance. A gnarled old oak tree once used as gallows stands in front. Perhaps the tree contributes to the many ghost stories originating from Roos Hall. (Reportedly, the hall is one of the most haunted places in England.)
Some of these entities include the apparition of a little girl who creepily appears in one of the upstairs windows and a phantom hound that prowls the grounds. There is supposedly a footprint from the Devil himself imprinted into one of the building’s cupboards. One of the most exciting and frightening is a haunting that only occurs at Christmas.
Legend is that every Christmas Eve, the intimidating presence of a ghostly phantom coach pulled by four snorting jet-black horses will manifest out of thin air in the night and speed down the road and up the driveway of the estate. A male phantom is missing his head in the driver’s seat.
This supernatural movie plays the following Christmas Eve again. The coach never makes a sound, and it vanishes just before reaching the hall proper. The identity of this headless coach driver and why he should appear only on Christmas Eve upon a carriage pulled by demonic black horses is a mystery. Still, it has become a famous piece of paranormal legend in the area.
Hever Castle, Kent, England
The historic Hever Castle, located in the rolling, idyllic countryside of Hever, Kent, has its own Christmas haunting.
Hever Castle was built about 1270 as a walled-in country house surrounded by a moat. Between 1462 to 1539, it was the residence of the rich and powerful Bullen family—who later became known as the Boleyn family. The original owner, Henry Bullen’s son Thomas, changed his name to Thomas Boleyn. He married Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. The two had a daughter named Anne Boleyn, who would create a major scandal at the time, and who lies at the root of the castle’s paranormal shadowing.
Anne’s sister, Mary, infamously began to have an affair with King Henry VIII, married to Catherine of Aragon. By all accounts, the King was unhappy with his marriage to Catherine. Boring of Mary, the King chose to pursue Anne. Anne spurned his advances and told the King he must divorce Catherina and marry her.
The King, allegedly obsessed with Anne, wrote her dozens of love letters. He continued to profess his undying love for Anne. The King continued to work on divorce from Catherine. While waiting for the divorce, King Henry made Anne the Anne Marchioness of Pembroke and gave her money, royal lodgings, and much else.
Anne eventually gave in to his advances. She became pregnant with King Henry’s child, and they secretly married in 1533, and she became Queen. The two had their child, Elizabeth, and continued to defy all those who wanted to see them separated and who called her coronation an abomination.
Unfortunately for Anne, King Henry VIII was soon chasing skirts again, specifically, a bridesmaid at their wedding named Jane Seymour. To make matters worse, numerous rumors surfaced that Anne was being unfaithful to the King, and the King began to believe it.
King Henry had Anne arrested, charged with treasonous adultery, and beheaded in 1536 at the Tower of London. Hever Castle had many different owners, including the famous American millionaire William Waldorf Astor in 1903, before finally coming to Broadland Properties Limited. They have put it on public display.
Through it all, one resident has remained the same through the centuries, and that is Anne Boleyn herself. According to the book Haunted Castles of Britain and Ireland by Richard Jones, and for reasons not entirely clear, Anne’s spectral form appears every Christmas Eve upon the bridge on the property that spans the river, Eden. The apparition slowly floats towards the castle, perhaps trying to come home from some other place, but fades then vanishes before reaching the castle doors. The manifestation repeats yearly.
Until Next Time,