The Ghosts of Pluckley

Pluckley is a village of about a thousand souls, near Ashford in Kent.

It’s mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the Dering Manuscript was discovered here – the earliest manuscript of a Shakespeare play still in existence, it is of Henry IV (Parts I & II) and is thought to date from c. 1613. More recently the village has been used as the location for the TV adaptation of The Darling Buds of May.

My family and I holidayed here back in the early Eighties, and stayed on a turkey farm. Every evening for supper we had turkey in some shape or form, till it became a bit like that pastiche of The Twelve Days of Christmas:

On the eighth day of Christmas the dog ran off for shelter / I served up turkey pancakes and a glass of Alka Seltzer.

There was another family staying there who were very Welsh and very proud of it – nothing wrong with that, except they demanded to know why, if we were from Somerset, we didn’t speak like the Wurzels…?

Anyway, what really spooked me, as a young kid still in short trousers, was that Pluckley was known (and still is) as the Most Haunted Village in England.

My parents even obtained a map, indicating the various ghosts (there are around twelve in all) and where in the village they were to be found.

None were located on the farm, but still I remember sleeping very badly that week (perhaps it was all that turkey), and was glad to get home again.

Many of the ghosts are associated with the Dering family (from whom the Dering Manuscript takes its name), who were local landowners for centuries. There is a Red Lady, a White Lady, several phantom dogs, a highwayman, a soldier, a miller, a tramp, a farmer who did away with himself, and – my own particular favourite – a gypsy woman whose pipe set fire to the haystack on which she was sleeping.

If you’re in the area, go and investigate – you’re braver than me! But just remember, if you hear any strange wailings or noises in the vicinity, it could just be someone had a turkey curry the night before…


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