Thursday, 21 June 2012

Ghost Stories And Urban Legends

I can definitely say I was brought up on my fair shear of ghost story’s and urban legends from my area where I grow up, from the jumping jack that haunted my primary school girls toilet the ghosts that walked the stage at my local theatre to the witches at Canewdon church.

Canewdon church.
Canewdon has got to the best and most well known story of the area. The village was believed to be the centre of witchcraft, (it's said there is as many witches in silk as in cotton) and there are many legends surrounding the church of St Nicholas which stands on Beacon hill, Canewdon, 


  • While the church tower stands, there will always remain 6 witches
  • If you walk around the church 7 times backwards/ anticlockwise on Halloween the witch’s will appear
  • walk around the church 13 times backwards/ anticlockwise you will disappear
  • Or walk around it 3 times  backwards/ anticlockwise and you will open up hell.

These stories have made the village a popular destination on Halloween. Resting in the police being known to seal off the village to all non-residents.
(The first Halloween of me having my drivers licence myself and a group of friends headed down there we parked the car and walked to the church. we were greeted less than 100 yards from the church by police, turned around and told to go home.)

The idea of something magical can happen from running around a church is probably an exaggeration of what scared locals saw the witch master and his nymphs doing “waling in circle” as it is known in paganism.

Old Leigh
Many coastal settlements have stories of witches, ghost and other strange happenings, and leigh-on-sea is no different.
The sea witch of old Leigh, Sarah Moore. she is known as a hare lipped bitter old woman. who was taunted by people's name calling and finger pointing. it was believed that any one who had a child born with a hare lip, was said to have been cursed by her, for there misdeeds.
in the mid 90s the pub  “the Sarah Moore” opened its doors  in Elm road Leigh, there were reports of panorama activity with lights flickering when her name was mentioned  and  broken bottles, and glasses, found on opening the pub each morning.

Leigh road, witch ducking pond

In Leigh road on the sight of Riley’s bowling ally opposite the Brookers pub. there used to be a pond also known as doom pond that is meant to have been used to trill witches by water. apparently if you are walking past this piece of land your meant to hear the cries of the indecent women  who drowned and The land was said to be cursed by the women found guilty of witchcraft.
Up until the 90s nothing was built on the land, due to constant flooding of the basement and subsidence of any thing built there due to the underground spring.

Belfairs woods
Belfairs woods, is  approximately 200 acres of woods, nature reserves‘, fields and golf course, I have many child hood memories of playing in the woods and park, as well as climbing over the school fence at the end of a school day.
The stables off of Eastwood Road North. are also meant to be haunted by a a servant boy who lived in the loft of the stables. and was unfortunately killed after being pushed out of the hay loft. All the kids that spent their weekends and after school time therein the 70s were always told not to go up in to the hayloft on a certain day as it was believed that the ghost of the boy would push you out. For one lucky but un lucky girl how did ended falling from the loft escaping with a broken collarbone, said she as if someone had pushed her. Haunted or was it just the power of surjection.
Another ghost store linked to Belfairs woods is that of a stage coach that was over turned in the woods and all were killed including the horses. on a full moon you are meant to hear the sound of horses galloping and the sound of chains and wood being dragged  across the ground.

The Cliffs Pavilion theater
The cliffs pavilion theater in Southend-on-sea opened in 1964, yet work began on the foundation of the building in the 1930s, but with the outbreak of second world war the work came to a halt. during the war the cliffs and sea front area was closed off to the public and it was believed that the army had built a maze of tunnels and bunkers with in the cliffs. the sight remained boarded up until 1959 when the sight was demolished the work began on the building that stands there today.

There are two ghost stories that I know of regarding the existence of these tunnels one of them is of the “Ratman tunnels” the story goes that a tramp lived in theses tunnels  and that some kids beat him up and left him to die, and that now his ghost appears there at night, looking like a giant, deformed rodent.
The store of these tunnels goes that that lead in to the Cliffs Pavilion basement, trust me on this one they don’t, I’ve been down in to that basement on a daily bases when working there, the only thing down there is a lot of broken lamps and a lift,
The other story which is popular with the theatre is of a WW2 Connell that appears at night and often seen outside the Marine bar  on the lower ground. and has apparently been seen in box G in the auditorium.

Palace theater
The other theatre in Southend is the Palace theatre situated on the London road built in the 1900s it opened its doors in 1912 as is supposedly haunted by the theatre's first technical manager George who hung himself  on the fly floor not long after the theatre opened. His ghostly figure has been seen all over the building.
There are also meant to be a lady in grey whom is known to sit and watch the show form the upper circle. 
I follow spotted many shows from the  upper circle, on my own, with another member of staff and with and with out an audience and I have to say if she is there she is very shy and only watches shows when she can have the circle to her self.

3 comments:

Top of the Rock Astronaut said...

Coming from Southend but currently living far away from it, this was a really interesting and fun read!

Helen Vanner said...

Lively stuff. Very poor spelling, but interesting nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Quite some years back my husband and I walked along the beach when suddenly we heard a child laughing .
A small child was running and playing playfully on the beach . Our general concern at the time was where was the parents of this small
Blonde haired child. The little boy with blonde hair wearing shorts and t shirt went into or under an upturned boat on the sand . Instantly we didn't want to frighten the child . As we got closer and looked under the boat . Nobody was there this little boy seemed so happy but I think we witnessed an apparition . I have tried looking to see if there were similar stories but have never seen anything like we experienced . Has anyone experienced this ?