Maidstone began as a Saxon village with a population of around just 250. From the 20th century the village was owned by the Archbishiop of Canterbury and by the 13th century Maidstone had a population big enough for it to be considered a town. Many people passed through the town during the medieval period as it had good trading links to London and the rest of Kent. In the 14th century the Black Death hit the town and led to a dip in the population (the burial ground for which remains behind Brenchley Gardens).  By the 17th Century the number of people living in Maidstone was more than 3,000, a figure that grew by seven times over the next 50 years. With all this history it’s hardly surprising that there’s tales of the supernatural haunting the town. This Halloween, why not check out some of the top most haunted places in Maidstone. But don’t let us scare you, they’re only stories… right?

Blue Bell Hill’s Ghost Bride

Blue Bell hill on the A229 is one of the most notorious haunted highways in the UK, with over 50 reported ghost sightings. The site was subject to the fatality of three friends who suffered a catastrophic collision with an oncoming vehicle on 19th November 1965. Suzanne Brown (aged 22) and her 2 friends were killed that night coming back from her hen night, the bride to be was to be married to RAF technician Brain Wetton the following day. Since the accident there have been so many reported ghost sightings from motorists, that the stretch of road has been labelled as one of the most haunted places in Kent.

One of those who is said to have seen the ghost of Blue Bell hill is James Skene, who upon driving home from work in 1971, saw a woman in her early 20’s appear in front of his car. He proceeded to give the women a lift to Chatham but upon arriving she had disappeared.

Then in 1992, three separate motorists reported knocking over a figure that ran out in front of their car late at night. However, when police went to investigate, they could not find any evidence that an accident ever occurred. Was this the ghost of Blue Bell hill or just their minds playing tricks?

The Servant at Allington Castle

Allington Castle is a medieval 12th Century castle. It is the birth place of Sir Thomas Wyatt, rebel leader, who dined in the Great Hall with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1530. The castle was converted into a Mansion House in 1491 under ownership of the Wyatt family. Solomon’s Tower remains as part of the original building, where the spirit of a young servant girl is supposed to wander. Sightings of the girl have also been reported in the garden of the King’s Tower. The residents of the property are said to hear footfalls from upstairs as they sit down below. The legend says that the servant was hanged after drowning her illegitimate baby in the cold, gloomy moat. Allington Castle is now privately owned, but exclusive tours and garden open days are available throughout the year, if you’re lucky maybe you’ll spot the lingering servant’s spirit.  

Leeds Castle and the Black Dog

Rumour has it that a ghostly black dog haunts the grounds of Leeds Castle. The presence of the dog was supposed to prophesise bad luck, or even death. Origins allegedly lie in the demonic dabbling of Henry VI’s aunt, Eleanor of Gloucester, who in 1431 was found guilty of practicing ‘necromancy, witchcraft, heresy and treason’. She was imprisoned within the castle for life. Some speculate that the black dog is the result of ancient witchcraft cast by Eleanor of Gloucester, the result of which has remained trapped in the castle’s grounds ever since.

Mote Park and the Little Girl Dressed in White

Mote Park was once a country estate, converted into landscape park land at the end of the 18th century. It includes the former stately home, Mote House. There have been several reports from people living local to the area of seeing a little girl dressed in white, running through the trees at night. One local resident Mr Elspass recounts the time he walked through the park back to his house after visiting a friend… “It was about 1am. I was tired and decided to walk through the park in order to reach my house on the other side.” “As I was walking along this line of trees… I looked over and… I could ever so slightly make out a pale area of light positioned in front of one of the trees.” “When I reached the other side of the tree… I realised this light object couldn’t possibly be attached to the tree, as it had rotated around the tree trunk so that no matter where I stood, this object was always positioned to the right of the tree trunk facing me.” “This object of plain ‘whiteness’ changed as I stood there… now I could make out the outline of a little girl – no facial features or anything… something in my head said to me “there is no question, that is a girl standing there looking back at you”.”  Many other people share a similar story, but so far no one can work out where she may have come from.

Penenden Heath, the ‘Punishing’ Grounds

Penenden Heath was the site of many executions from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the 19th Century and suspected witches are alleged to have been tried and hanged on the heath between the 12th and 17th centuries:

Anne Ashby, Alias Cobler, Anne Martyn, Mary Browne, Anne Wilson and Mildred Wright of Cranbrook and Mary Read of Lehnam, being legally convicted, were according to the Laws of this Nation, adjudged to be hanged, at the common place of execution. Some there wished they might be burnt to ashes, alleging that "it was a received opinion among many, that a body of a witch being burnt, her blood is prevented thereby from becoming hereditary to her Progeny in the same evil.”

During the 18th and 19th century the heath remained a common site for the execution of criminals (by hanging). The last public execution at the site was performed in 1830 before they were moved to outside the new Maidstone Prison on County Road.

The Boy in the Wall at The Ringlestone Inn

The Ringlestone Inn in Harrietsham is thought to once to be a hospice, owned by the church for the sanctuary of monks, who were likely to have left around 1539. In 1588 the inn is mentioned in a will and accordingly the property was auctioned off to the Hepplewhites. Over the subsequent years the inn grew in popularity and travellers would stop for refreshments en route to London.

In 1958 Florence and Dora Gasking (who were mother and daughter) took over the inn and built quite a reputation for themselves. The couple were frequently seen armed with a shotgun, examining their clientele and demanding unwanted guests leave. They were also known to have thrown concrete blocks from the windows and would only let customers in who could give a series of secret knocks.

One particular story from the inn recounts a small boy, probably the landlord of the time’s son, who was caught slaughtering an animal on the surrounding farmland for his family. The penalty for such a crime at the time was harsh, possibly resulting in death. In order to protect their son, it is said that the parents hid the boy in a cavity in the wall, leaving just a small gap to pass food through. Eventually the boy stopped taking the food and the innkeepers presumed he was dead. They inserted the remaining brick and moved away. The wall has supposedly not been touched since the couple left.

With all this history, it is hardly surprising that there has been paranormal activity within the pub. Some of the spirits are that are claimed to haunt the pub include mischievous children moving toys and objects; an elderly couple that sit in the corner of the bar, make friends with living customers but disappear in an instant and a ghostly man in boots that stops up the cellar stairs, just to name a few.

The Trapped Soul at Maidstone Museum

Maidstone Museum has hosted many a paranormal night but nothing has ever been found. But ask the staff who work there and they might tell you a different story… One evening just before it was time to lock up, two staff members were about to check the museum to ensure that everyone had left when they spotted someone in the library on the CCTV cameras. The pair grabbed the keys and went straight there, thinking that they had accidently locked the visitor in. But, when they got to the library the doors were locked and there was no one inside. Both of the staff members had seen the person on the camera image, was it a ghost?

Haunted Headcorn Aerodrome

Headcorn Aerodrome, which used to be Lashenden Airfield, has an interesting flight which never appears to come in.  According to those who work there, you can sometimes hear the engines and the throttle ready to land, some people have even heard the plane land on the grass, but then it disappears… No one seems to know who this flight crew were.

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