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Ghosts from Berkshire Places
Beginning with 'S'

Sandhurst

The Duke’s Head was haunted by mysterious figures in one of the upstairs bedrooms during the 1920s. The atmosphere there was also found to be overly oppressive. Fifty years later, a phantom drinker was seen a number times in the bar: a small man in a black coat and trilby. The observers later discovered this was an old regular who had died quite recently.

A publicity photograph taken in Rackstraws’ Farm, now a restaurant, was found to have a ghostly skull clearly visible within an old fireplace, though there was nothing there at the time the picture was taken!

Shalford

An alley at Shalford is known as ‘Nun’s Walk’ because of the ghost which frequents the area.

Shaw

Mysterious blue lights have been seen from time to time in the attic and upper windows of Shaw House. And screams are sometimes heard at midnight coming from a tunnel supposedly leading Donnington Castle. This is alleged to be a miad from the house who was killed when the tunnel collapsed.

Shefford Woodlands

This tiny village was the home of old Mother Barnes, the midwife who was called to attend the birth of a noble child at a mysterious grand house, some eight miles away. Upon the child’s arrival, the Lord who blindfolded the old woman and brought her hence, cast the babe into the roaring fireplace! Later investigations revealed this to have been Wild Will Darrel, Lord of Littlecote Park (in adjoining Wiltshire). His family connections allowed him to escape a murder charge, but it is said that he was later killed in a fall when a vision of a burning baby frightened his horse. His mounted ghost, with severed head hanging gruesomely, still appears at the spot where he died. It has since become known as ‘Darrell’s Stile,’ at the point where the Hungerford-Wantage road crosses the old Ermin(e) Way.

Sherlock Row

A young girl from the days of the Civil War haunts Callins Bridge. She was the youngest of a coven of sisterly witches who had renounced the black arts and turned to the Christian faith. Although only about sixteen years of age, with a posy of flowers in her hands, the girl is said to wait for her lover, a Royalist soldier returning home on leave. She paces the approaches to the bridge in her long yellow and white dress and with dishevelled long black hair. This sad figure was murdered there by a group of Roundheads fleeing a nearby skirmish. If you follow the girl’s ghost, she will show you the graves of those killed in the clash.

Shinfield

A ghostly carriage is sometimes seen down Hollow Lane.

The spirit of a bearded man has been seen near the parish church.

Shrivenham

Around 1920-30, it was the custom of Miss Morse of the Old School Cottage (Watchfield) to fetch the milk, daily in the late afternoon, from a farm at Shrivenham. She was returning with her sisters from such an expedition in the dusk of a winter's afternoon. As they approached Maiden's Well, they saw a misty white figure close to them, carrying what appeared to be a lamp in each hand. They all saw this apparition, but were too startled to approach it. As they looked at it, it slowly vanished. Several other people in the village had seen the same thing from time to time. It was supposed to be the ghost of a man named Jefferies who used to work on the Squire's Barn premises and who drowned himself in a pond by Squirrel Copse years before.

Snelsmore Common

A lady viewing a house in this hamlet was once treated to the apparition of a group of men in Quaker style dress, though her husband saw nothing.

Sonning

The bridge is haunted by the ghost of a white hare. This was said to be the spirit of the corn and was unlucky if seen. Farmers would always cross the bridge in twos if it was late at night.

In 1396, the seven year old daughter of King Charles VI of France, Princess Isabella, married King Richard II of England. After his deposition in 1399, she was kept a prisoner at Sonning Bishop’s Palace in the charge of Richard Metford, Bishop of Salisbury, until 1400. In this year, the Earls of Huntingdon, Salisbury & Kent tried to put Richard back on the throne. The Queen was told so at Sonning, but it was not to be. Her ghost still haunts the lower regions of Holme Park where the palace stood and also the towpath beside the Thames where she once took her daily walk.

At one particular point, regularly as the clock strikes twelve, the ghost of a certain Miss Rich hops over the high irregular fence in Sonning Lane to gaze at her old‑home, Holme Park. She is seen to emerge from he shady lane and disappear over the paling ‑ rising gradually and sinking slowly ‑ always the same figure, dressed in the costume of the middle of the 19th century and with the self-same disposition and fluctuation of drapery - not a hair's breadth more or less. When the moonlight was strong the apparition appears semi-transparent.

South Ascot

A Victorian house in Brockenhurst Road has an oppressive atmosphere and the dog of a past occupant was terrified of something in the kitchen. Its door could never be kept shut. There are confused stories of a child dying in the building under mysterious circumstances.

A silent post-chaise drawn by two white horses has been seen in Woodlands Ride by two walkers and their terrified dog. It was driven by a man in a cravat and carried a lady wearing in a crinoline. A little white dog ran along behind. The same area is haunted by a ghostly man.

Southcote

Stories of hauntings at the magnificent old moated manor here were rife before the building was pulled down in the 1920s, though they seem to have been somewhat confused.  Some say it was the ghost of a previous occupant, perhaps Sir George Cobb who drowned in the moat in 1762. In one version, the phantom is a headless wraith who walks at night. In another, the ghost is that of a friar. The most elaborate tale tells of a lady on a white horse crossing the drawbridge over the moat every night at midnight. The spirit actually appears to have been that of the Sir John Blagrave, the house’s builder. He died at Southcote in 1611 and his apparition was being seen there only fifty years later. Read the full story.

South Moreton

The ghost of William Field caused so much trouble at his farm, after he hanged himself in 1804, that about fifty years later, he was put to rest by a collection of eleven priests. Two villagers hid in the barn to observe the proceedings and luckily for them, when asked if the priests would give the spirit the ‘mice in the straw’ or the ‘cock on the dung-hill,’ they chose the latter. Read the full story.

Speen

Near the church is ‘Our Lady Well’ known locally as a wishing well. It is said that a ghost has been seen nearby.

Standen

The ghost of a ‘lovely white lady on horseback,’ all in white, rides around this hamlet. She crosses the main road, before shocked motorists, along a forgotten bridleway and disappears out of sight. The agriculturalist, Jethro Tull, died at Prosperous Farm here, but his ghost is inexplicably said to haunt Midgeham.

Stanford Dingley

The Boot Inn is reputedly haunted by a man who hanged himself in its orchard. Doors and draws are said to open and close mysteriously at times.

The old rectory is said to have a ghost.

A shrouded woman is said to walk in Jennet’s Wood at midnight.

Steventon

On the Hanney Road that leads to Steventon some phantom horses haunt the road. They appear galloping across the road and then suddenly disappear.

Streatley

In the last corrupt days of monasticism at Reading Abbey, one of the monks entered into an illicit affair with a sister from a nunnery near Streatley. The two would meet for wild nights of passion at the ‘Bull Inn’ in the village. Soon discovered, they were both slain on the spot and buried beneath two huge yew trees outside. On warm summer nights, they rise again and walk hand-in-hand through the pub garden.

An Elizabethan farmhouse, once Place Manor Farm, is haunted by a lady in white. She is supposed to be the ghost of a shepherd’s wife careering round the garden in her night-dress.

The riverside is haunted by the spirit of a large white cat which jumps out at pasers-by.

Stubbings

There is a local legend that a ‘phantom horseman’ all in white rides the forest lanes at night and disappears into Maidenhead Thicket with a thundering of hooves. Some say he is Dick Turpin, others Captain Hawkes; or perhaps it is Claude Duval who is said to haunt nearby Burchetts Green.

Sulhamstead Bannister

The ghost of a Victorian Lord of the Manor, Mortimer George Thoyts was seen in the old churchyard shortly after his death in 1870. The adjoining Meales Farm was once haunted by a ghostly figure who crossed the fields towards Brazenhead Farmhouse. It was thought to be the spirit of John Wickens, an 18th century farmer from Meales who married the daughter of the Brazenhead household. The ground floor of the latter house was also haunted by a ghost, that of a little woman in a white gown. Perhaps she was John’s wife.

Sulhamstead Abbots

The lower lane below the park at Sulhamstead House is said to be haunted by a headless figure, gender unknown.

In Victorian times, a girl was run down by a cart and killed in the lane between Sulhamstead Abbots and Ufton Nervet. Since then, on November evenings, the sound of the invisible cart and horses has been heard coming up behind walkers near the spot where the accident happened.

Sunningdale

A ghostly figure was seen by the occupant of ground floor flat in an old Victorian house in Sunningdale. It was mauve and fluorescent and glided across the floor. The pet dog in the room also saw the apparition and whimpered in its basket.

Doris Stainer, the sister of the film-star, Leslie Howard, ran the old Hurst Lodge school for girls. She lived in a house in the grounds and, after her death, her ghost in her blue cardigan, was seen sitting on her bed.

The actress, Diana Dors lived at Sunningdale and recorded a number of ghostly happenings at her house, ‘The Pavilion’. A man in grey was seen by one guest to enter his room and hide behind the door. Upon being reproached, the ghost stepped forth once more before disappearing. He was also seen by the visitor’s daughter and is thought to have been a previous occupant of the house, a pianist who committed suicide. In the same room, the bedclothes would often be found on the floor, despite it having been empty over night. There were mysterious knockings on doors and rooms in which dogs refused to stay. Ms. Dors believed the house to have been built upon some sort of monastic site, for she often heard the trudge of sandled feet and the celestial singing. Another guest actually saw a man in long robes and sandles.

Diana Dors’ widower, Alan Lake, bought Orchard Manor and his housekeeper claims to have seen the actress’s ghost there on a number of occasions. Mr. Lake also appeared to her after his own death.

Sunninghill

The Berystede Hotel is a grand mansion, built on the site of a previous home of the Standish family. The old house was burnt down on 27th October 1886 and Mrs. Standish’s French maid, Eliza Kleininger, was killed in the blaze. Her charred remains were discovered at the bottom of the servants’ stairs, amongst the sad remains of the jewellery box she had been trying to save. Her ghost – known as the ‘Lady in Blue’ – still walks around the replacement building, particularly under the main gable of the north side of the house, where the staircase was.

A much altered 18th century cottage in the village is apparently haunted by the ghost of a woman who crosses the drawing-room and disappears straight through a solid wall. One lady who lived in the house saw the mysterious woman, in the middle of the night, sitting at a table in the room before she dematerialised. At friend’s house, years later, she was certain that she met the same woman in real life!

At a point in Sunninghill Park, on a bridle path near the A332, several witnesses have reported hearing the clear sounds of heavy horses hooves approaching in the night. Yet nothing is ever seen.

Sutton Courtenay

Sutton Courtenay has several old legends about two characters who have become much confused. A ghoulish phantom which haunts Hell-corner is said to be Doctor Sherwood who rides a white horse at full pelt with an open razor in his hand seeking prospective victims. It seems somewhat more likely that this is really the evil Daniel Grimshaw who was executed for the murder of his young child in March 1825. He, however, who was usually associated with Hobbyhorse Road.

Swallowfield

A 15th century house in the village is haunted by an invisible presence which leaves an upstairs room and his heard to descend the staircase. Crossing another room, it stops at a cupboard where ‘scuffling’ occurs.

In 1719, Swallowfield Park was purchased by Governor Thomas ‘Diamond’ Pitt using the proceeds of his famous ‘Regent’ diamond (now in the Louvre Museum in Paris). He had swindled a poor African slave into giving up the stone, after the unfortunate man had managed to smuggle it out of the mine, hidden in an open wound. Pitt was afterwards harassed by the slave’s angry spirit, which manifested itself to him at Swallowfield. Today, the park is haunted by a cavalier who sits on the bridge over the River Blackwater at Twilight. One witness felt strange and eerie upon seeing the phantom and her dog would not pass. She was able to describe the man’s outfit in great detail: ‘high boots, a cloak and ruffles, and a large cavalier type hat with a feather plume’.

 
 

    © Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.