This set of spooky little tales originally ran on Twitter and Bluesky through January 2024. It felt like the perfect time of year, a dark and dismal winter month, for sending out these short stories as a series. Some of them you may recognise as they are the more famous ghosts of Wiltshire and I have talked about them before. Others are far less known and are I feel need to be told as they are in danger of being lost in the depths of time. Now, we can’t have that! It’s one of the main reasons this blog exists.
You may have caught this series on socials but I know a lot of people aren’t. If you are a ghost story fan, as I am, I don’t want you to miss out. So, without further ado, grab a cuppa and snuggle down. Here are 30 short ghost stories from Wiltshire.
Four in hand, Savernake
A spectral coach and horses are said to drive from Savernake Forest, through Hatt Gate, down the pathway to Brimslade Farm House. It is said a maitresse en titre of one of the Marquesses of Ailsebury once lived at this farm. The Ailesbury arms are depicted in plaster over the chimneypiece in the great bed chamber. Maybe it is the marquesses’ coach that makes its way there in haste?
Silbury Hill, Avebury
Two ghosts are associated with mysterious Silbury Hill according to an old stone-breaker, Worthy Gaisford. There is King Sill who is said to be buried there in golden armour. He declared the most massive elevation be constructed around him after his death, ‘while a poset of milk was seething.’ King Sill is said to be seen riding his horse around Silbury on moonlit nights. There is also a headless man, seen on top of the hill. No one knows who he may be and why is without his head!
Steam Railway Pub, Swindon
In this old coaching inn, there is a well. It was uncovered when there was work going on in the courtyard. Over the course of the next few nights, the landlord (a big, gruff Londoner) heard his guard dog barking in the bar and came down to find a water trail across the floor. At first, he thought his dog was needing a pee and mopped it up. This happened again and again and then he noticed the trail ran all the way to the well, through the locked door. Wet footprints tramping through to the bar. He asked the builders to check it. The water level was so low they couldn’t even see it. There was no way for the water to get out of the well. The well was covered back up and the nightly water trail stopped. The landlord said it looked like someone had climbed out of the well and come into the pub at night. Creepy!
Handley Down, Sixpenny Handley
It was Dr R.R. Clay, Fovant’s village doctor who recorded several ghost stories in the village after moving here in 1855. While he lived in a haunted Manor House himself, one of the ghosts he met was actually a Bronze-aged horseman up on beautiful Handley Downs.
Sir John St John, Lydiard House
If you visit the impressive Lydiard House and see a 17th-century gent wandering the grounds, occasionally stopping to give visitors directions, you may just have run into the 1st Baron of Lydiard Tregoze, Sir John St John. He is also seen in the library, leaning casually on the fireplace. You’ll know he is about to appear because the temperature is said to drop and the strong, sweet smell of tobacco wafts about the room.
Westbury Swimming Pool
Yes, Wiltshire even has a haunted swimming pool. Head to Westbury for a dip and you may run into one of the many ghosts there -George. He was the old caretaker/ boiler stoker and is often seen in his overalls and hobnail boots, appearing on wet and windy days. Walking around the pool, he disappears through walls and visits the ladies’ changing rooms. Naughty George!
The Duke of Buckingham at Debenhams, Salisbury
One of my fav Wilshire ghosts has to be Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham. Beheaded on the site of the old Debenhams store, by order of Richard III, Henry continues to roam the store, minus his head, scaring customers. On the anniversary of his death, he is said to ‘re-walk’ his final steps down the backstairs into the courtyard.
Hackpen Hill, near Broad Hinton
Apart from the White Horse and the area being a crop circle hotspot, beware, of Hackpen Hill. It is the domain of the Fae and you should never go searching for them, even if you hear the enchanting music coming from the hill. The Fae are devious you see, and try to find them and head into the Fairy World and it’s likely you won’t be seen for many years. Maybe even hundreds! You’ve been warned!
The New Inn, Amesbury
Who wouldn’t like a large drinking vessel, full of beer after a hard day of labouring in the fields? Certainly, one of the ghosts of The New Inn still does. Dressed in farm clothes with a pulldown hat, this elderly gent appears at a table, quenches his thirst and then just disappears. You might spot him in the gent’s loo occasionally. Must be all that beer!
St Mary’s Church Walk, Devizes
Locals avoid this area at night for good reason. During the English Civil War there were so many soldiers killed in this area the churchyards were full to bursting. The dead were buried in upright positions outside of the churchyard (under the paving stones). Fourteen were uncovered in recent years and reburied in the churchyard. But many more unfortunate souls are said to remain, standing underground in the surrounding area. Walk along this path and you may feel your legs being grabbed by the unseen hands of the dead soldiers. Dark figures have been witnessed, unmoving, blocking the way. It’s a very scary thought.
In 1841 there was a great flood in Maddington after a rapid thaw of thick snow on frozen land. Thought to be a novice from a former seminary at the manor house, a young girl, barely in her teens, was said to have drowned in the flood. Wearing a long white dress, this poor girl ghost has been reported in several parts of the village including in the church, a barn and gliding by a couple of cottages. Witnesses say she appears to be ‘wet’.
Tudor Tearooms, Mere
Back in 1965, waitresses spotted the ghost of a female several times. She appeared in a long white gown and glided across one of the rooms in the building. Poltergeist activity was reported and one night, much to the shock of the waitress opening up in the morning, a large and heavy table was found turned upside down, the tearooms having been locked and closed for the night.
Fyfield Manor, Fyfield
Stay the night at Fyfield Manor, near Pewsey, and you better hope you don’t end up in the Monk’s Tower. According to the old gardener who lived in the building for four years, up the stairs comes the heavy footsteps of a resident monk before thumping heavily on the door in the middle of the night. Should you hear the sound of a four-in-hand carriage on the driveway, ignore it. It’s just a phantom coach that can be heard, but never seen.
The mysterious phantom plane, Stonehenge
In WW2, four soldiers were preparing for D-Day on Salisbury Plain. Heading by Jeep towards Stonehenge they suddenly witnessed a tiny silent aircraft fly straight into a copse of trees. They raced ahead to the scene of the crash. There was nothing to be seen. No aircraft flying south, no noise and no sign of an accident. Their warrant officer called for the men. In the trees he stood, white as a sheet, at the sight of the Airman’s Cross. The memorial commemorates the site of an early military aviation accident on 5th July 1912, in which Captain Eustace Loraine and his passenger Staff Sgt Richard Wilson became the first members of the newly formed Royal Flying Corps to die while on duty.
Broadwell House, Market Lavington
Today’s phantom is a friendly one! A rather thickset old lady wearing an apron and mob cap is thought to be responsible for squeezing a visitor’s hand several times in the night as she lay in bed one night. The owners generally accepted it must have been ‘the ghost’. The delicious smell of fresh baking can sometimes be detected throughout the household. An old owner thinks it must be Mrs Smith who was a wonderful breadmaker living there a few generations back. This story was told at the ‘Darby and Joan’ club in the village, back in the 70s.
The Birdman of Calne
The Birdman of Calne was named after a weird story sent to me two years ago. A strange feathery man-sized creature has been spotted several times by different people on the A3102. A fairly rural area and very late at night, one of the witnesses described it as ‘a man walking in the road covered in long feathers, similar to swan feathers. We couldn’t make out a face but we saw white legs covered in feathers and a body, again covered in feathers.’ They thought they may have hit the creature in their car so turned around to find it. There was nothing there. They aren’t the only ones to have seen this mysterious creature. You can read the full account of the Birdman of Calne here.
Zeals House, Zeals
Another day, another ghost in a stately home! This time we’re in Zeals. An apparition of a young woman in grey is said to be seen gliding down the staircase of this (partially) 13th-century manor house. She goes out of the door, past the lake and on into the woods heading towards the place where she was buried, her skeleton found by accident in 1876. A stone marks the spot even though she is now re-buried in Zeals Church graveyard. It is thought she was the daughter of a one-time owner who was presumed to have ‘eloped’ with a servant who went missing at the same time. She took with her all her finery, jewels and money when she left. But, a few weeks later her ghost was spotted by servants in the house. After a full search of the house and grounds, she was not found. The presumption is that her beloved did not want to marry her at all but murdered her instead, buried her in the woods and took off with her riches. Her ghost is still seen on occasion in these modern times.
King’s Barrow Ridge, Stonehenge
On part of The Avenue, the processional route to Stonehenge, a man out walking late one autumn eve in 1950s climbed on one of the barrows and witnessed a procession of lights coming towards him. They looked like Druids. So as not to disturb the procession, the man hid behind a tree. With flaming torches, these robed and hooded figures silently passed by. He thought they may be real until he watched each individual figure and torch disappear one by one. Was it an ancient funeral procession or religious ceremony the man witnessed?
Church Street, Trowbridge
A sinister presence is said to inhabit Church Street in Trowbridge. Old, wrinkled and toothless with wizened features, this ghost is known as ‘The Old Hag’. She wears a shabby old coat and when she appears she gives off a very nasty feeling of evil. The mystery is that no one has any idea of who she is or what her purpose is. I know this much, she doesn’t sound very nice!
Roundway Hospital, Devizes
Wiltshire’s old county ‘lunatic asylum’, Roundway was once the home of up to 1300 residents. Victorian conditions were harsh and anyone struggling in society with mental health issues, learning disabilities and addiction issues as well as unmarried mothers were thrown into the hospital, with no care and plenty of cruelty. The hospital closed in 1995 and was turned into flats, some of which seem to be haunted. Knocks and bangs come from the flats that were once attic space, doors slam, things fall over, taps run and lights go on and off. One lady who moved in there swiftly departed again after just two weeks. Another lady, who was sitting reading a book in her Clock Tower flat, experienced a ghostly figure shout at her to ‘put the book down’ before he disappeared. Another lady reports her bed being shaken at night. Apparitions of men, women and even a cat ghost have been seen at Roundway.
There are 54 different reported locations where black dogs or black shucks have been encountered in Wiltshire. One of the scariest incidents was that of a Devil dog appearing on Palm Sunday to a group having a celebratory picnic on Cow Down, Longbridge Deverill. So terrified were the villagers of the sight of the large, drolling, fearsome dog that they fled the scene and never held another celebration there ever again.
The Antrobus Hotel, Amesbury
There’s a lot going on at the Antrobus! It’s been an old inn, family home, private school, vicarage and now it’s a pub again. It’s got cellars and tunnels that are believed to lead to Amesbury Abbey and a couple of local churches. So, quite a history. No wonder it’s haunted. There’s a little old lady ghost who likes to watch people sleep in room seven, and a little girl who has been named Harriet running up the stairs and in the cellar. There’s also a roughly dressed male apparition and a dark shadow. There’s plenty of poltergeist activity going on there – TVs and lights go on and off, wardrobe doors open and close and weirdly, ashtrays fill with water in the middle of the night for the staff to find first thing. Here’s a famous video from The Antrobus, captured by Selina Wright of Paranormal Wiltshire of ‘the latern’. Make of it what you will! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN2h05LDsXo
St Bartholomew’s Church, Corsham
In the graveyard of this (originally) Saxon church there is said to be a rather malevolent spirit. At only 2 ft 6 or so high he is an ugly type of dwarf. Lady Pennoyer and two of her friends were sat in the churchyard and spotted him. So odious was this ‘thing’ that one fainted at the sight of him, one was left traumatised but one didn’t see him at all. He may be the spirit of a very evil monk who once lived in Corsham. He isn’t nice and he intends to cause harm. Avoid him if you see him!
The Roman Ghosts of Cherhill White Horse
Heading from Oldbury Camp to the white horse runs a Roman road. An old shepherd on Cherhill Down said he had seen ‘a lot of men a’marchin’, they wear skirts! They wore beards and girt helmets and had a girt bird on a pole a’front on ‘em!’ Another hiker who camped down on the downs one night also heard the sound of marching feet in the middle of the night. In the morning he investigated and not a blade of grass was out of place. Both stories are from the 70s.
Black Molly of Pyt House
In the cellar of the magnificent neo-Grecian mansion of Pyt House a grisly skeleton can be found. This is Black Molly. She was a servant in the house who was convicted and hung for killing her baby by scolding, although she denied it. A man of the aristocratic Bennett family was said to be the father. Molly’s body was returned and stored in the cellar and it seems there was a curse put on the house. It is said if she is removed, misfortune will fall upon the family. The first time she was moved, a wing of the house caught fire. A second time the son and heir died, the third time the only daughter died. Her ghost is said to haunt the ‘pink room’ and nearby corridors.
Pug’s Hole, Bowerchalke
There is a thorn bush that grows in the shape of a garden seat. It is nestled into a dip in the hills and is known as Pug’s Hole. On dark nights, in the worst of weather, a voice is said to call out ‘I’m lost! I want to go home.’ When searching for the man in distress, a white figure is seen, vanishing into the thorn bush. It’s said to be the ghost of a shepherd who perished in the snow on a dark and stormy winter night.
Tithe Barn, Bradford on Avon
This 14th-century barn was used by the nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey, before it became a farm after the dissolution of the monasteries. Now it is managed by the National Trust and used for film work and functions. Look out for a fairly solid apparition, a gaunt teenage boy with a hat, the brim turned up. He wears a cloak and old style of tunic and emerges from an alcove in the wall.
Cadet Hall, Westbury
In WW2 soldiers used the hall as a place to socialise. Benjamin was an American barman who was closing up one evening. Three soldiers came in demanding a drink and Benjamin refused to serve them. A fight broke out. Dragged to the firing range room, poor Benjamin was shot. Cadets have seen his shadowy figure standing in the doorway of a room they use as a dorm and he has also been seen in the washroom mirror. Could it be the ghost of Benjamin?
The Jolly Tar, Hannington
This pub has three ghosts: A ‘scruffy’ man who walks out of the fireplace and loiters in a corner at the end of the lounge bar. Reportedly middle-aged and nearly six feet tall. He has also been seen in the public bar by the landlady, chef and locals. He sometimes looks like he is dripping wet and appears anxious. There is another old lady ghost who walks through the bar window and back out through the wall. Then, there is a grey lady who sits by the fire.
The Final Day – Day 30
West Kennet Long Barrow
Phew! We have finally got to the last day of 30 days of ghosts. And I’ve saved one of the best locations for last. West Kennet Long Barrow! There are so many ghosts, Fae and ethereal goings on in this area I suggest you read about Avebury here: https://weird-wiltshire.co.uk/2022/11/26/walking-the-paths-of-our-ancestors-part-two/ At dawn on the longest day of the year, head to West Kennet and you may witness the white-robed priest-like apparition who walks out from the long barrow to face the east as the sun rises. He then heads back into the barrow, his red-tip-eared, white Fae dog at his heels. So many people have had strange experiences at this ancient place, me included. If you are a sensitive and intuitive person, once you have been in there, you tend not to want to go back in. I know several people who say they love to visit but will never go inside again. It’s like someone is telling us we aren’t welcome and to leave them in peace.
The End of the Ghosts
Thank you so much for joining me on this 30-day journey. I hope you enjoyed it. Apart from being able to feature a few of my favourite Wiltshire ghosts, I have discovered some new stories too. There were so many to choose from, I think I could probably have carried on for a whole year. It’s been a fun trip into the World of Weird Wiltshire! Stay spooky everyone!
Don’t forget, I’m always on the lookout for spooky and weird stories from Wiltshire and beyond. If you have a tale you would like to share I’d love to hear from you. Contact me via Twitter (or X as we are supposed to call it now) or here.
I’m also now to be found on Bluesky. Hurrah! If you enjoy my weird tales from Wiltshire and beyond and can spare a few pennies please head over to Ko-fi and buy me a cuppa. Every bit is used to help bring you more stories. I sure would appreciate it