Ghost author lifts lid on the supernatural

Post-haste: A coach and horses has been seen to pause outside The Greyhound, in Chalfont St Peter

First published in News by

A ghost-hunting historian has highlighted a striking and somewhat disturbing feature of life in Bucks.

In a new book, Rupert Matthews lifts the lid on some of the supernatural sightings and unworldly events for which Buckinghamshire has become notorious in recent years.

Tom Harper and Paul Leat take a look at the area's haunted history.

Ghostly goings-on have put the frighteners on visitors at a youth centre and have left the owners mystified by their supernatural guest.

Woodrow High House in Amersham is reportedly home to the Green Lady of Woodrow, the ghost of former resident Lady Helena Stanhope.

Lady Stanhope committed suicide in the grounds of the house after her lover, Sir Peter Bostock, was executed for treason in the 17th century.

Now the Green Lady has once again made her presence known at the house.

John Fidgett, deputy director of the Residential and Training Centre for London Youth at Woodrow House, said: "We were re-arranging some furniture in a room that has two huge portraits of Lady Stanhope and Sir Peter side-by-side.

"The builders removed the picture of Bostock and took it downstairs to the cellar. The next morning the portrait of Lady Stanhope had fallen off the wall and was face down on the floor, directly above the cellar.

"There was no sign of forced entry and the dust that had settled overnight had not been disturbed. It would take two strong men to have lifted that picture off the wall.

"It's really spooky and I won't allow the portraits to be separated from now on."

This haunted location and many others across south Bucks have been collected together by ghost-hunting historian Rupert Matthews, who has recently published a book on his findings.

Mr Matthews chose to study ghostly activity in the county after hearing stories from his mother-in-law, who lives locally, and is surprised by the certainty with which people recount their own supernatural experiences.

He said: "Normally when I visit places it's all very secretive. I think people are often embarrassed by what they think they've seen.

"But when I visit the stately homes and old pubs of Buckinghamshire it's like, Oh yeah the ghost. Jim saw him last Friday. You'd better speak to him'."

He is at a loss to explain the candour. "I don't really know why people are more forthcoming. Perhaps it is Buckinghamshire's history as a main thoroughfare from London to the provinces," he said. "They're a pretty cosmopolitan and accepting lot."

Mr Matthews says in his book that in 1946, a workman converting Woodrow High House for its current use as a youth club saw a woman dressed in green glide across a corridor of the house, before passing through a closed door and out into the surrounding woods.

Since then the story of the Green Lady made the High House famous.

Mr Fidgett adds: "Every child that comes here wants to know about the Green Lady. We always tell the ghost story to the children and make sure we put in some loud screams. I have a 16-year-old daughter who bears a passing resemblance to the lady. She sometimes dresses up in green and surprises the guests."

Buckinghamshire is notorious as one of the most haunted counties in England.

At the Greyhound Inn, a former coaching hostelry in Chalfont St Peter, a spectral stagecoach has often been sighted coming out of the mist on the Amersham road and pulling up outside the Greyhound. However the stories have not put punters off, and current manager Mick Charles is sceptical about the rumours. He said: "I've worked here for two years and although there has been plenty of talk about ghost sightings, I've never seen anything."

The Chequers pub, in London Road, Amersham, is said to be haunted by no less than nine ghosts. These are thought to be the spirits of men and women held at the Chequers overnight before being sent to the gallows. In the room where they were held, sightings of a woman dressed in white and a chimney sweep are so common that it is the only bedroom in the pub not rented out to guests.

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