Spine chilling mysteries of our haunted county

PUBLISHED: 17:50 21 September 2009 | UPDATED: 09:13 11 August 2010

St Clere's Hall in Stanford-le-Hope

St Clere's Hall in Stanford-le-Hope

PHANTOM highwaymen, mischievous ghosts, unexplainable moving objects, terrifying apparitions – Essex, it would seem, has them all. According to Carmel King, the author of the newly published Haunted Essex, this is one very spooky county. King, a dental

PHANTOM highwaymen, mischievous ghosts, unexplainable moving objects, terrifying apparitions - Essex, it would seem, has them all.

According to Carmel King, the author of the newly published Haunted Essex, this is one very spooky county.

King, a dental nurse and ghost enthusiast, has produced a chilling and captivating collection of tales from the area, drawing on both historical and contemporary sources.

She says the existence of ghosts remains a mystery, so it's up to the reader to decide whether these stories are true or little more than people's over-active imagination.

We've picked out a few of her supernatural tales below, so if you're feeling brave read on!

Hornchurch Country Park is said to be the home of much paranormal activity connected with an airfield (RAF Hornchurch) which once ran across the site and was built specifically to protect London from Zeppelin attacks during the First World War.

Park walkers and staff from the nearby hospital have reported seeing the ghosts of men dressed in RAF uniforms and some people claim they have heard the faint sound of propeller engine aircraft. Some believe the pill boxes and gun placements which remain on the site are the reason so many ghosts still haunt the area.

Over in Upminster a number of people have reputedly seen the ghost of a young girl at the Upminster Golf Clubhouse, which housed a monastery more than 800 years ago.

Apparently the girl always wears a white dress and appears in the first-floor corridor and in the flat belonging to the club's secretary. Legend has it she was kidnapped in the 1600s, hidden in the old monastery, which was then a manor house, and eventually murdered. Her body was entombed in the walls of a room that overlooks the car park.

There are also plenty of spooky happenings in Brentwood it would seem. People say The White Hart pub, in the High Street, harbours a mischievous ghost that taps people on the shoulder and moves objects around.

And you'd be brave to step through the door of No.133, also in the High Street. Heart-stopping accounts tell of ghostly laughter echoing down the corridors and across the rooms, severe drops and increases in temperature, and animals reacting violently as they enter the building.

As if that wasn't enough to scare you off the town of Brentwood, The Fountain Head pub in Ingrave Road, is, people say, also a host to poltergeist activity, with exploding bottles and moving furniture having been reported over the years.

In Purfleet, the Royal Hotel's room 31 is reputedly haunted by the ghosts of a young couple. The girl was murdered by her boyfriend after an argument about his gambling habit. The room remains the least used at the hotel, as people won't sleep there.

Staff claim they have seen figures standing at the far end of the balcony area of the upper restaurant and walking through the kitchen.

Items have been moved and late one night, in the Longbridge Bar, some drinks flew off a table and smashed into the floor.

Further along the river, in Tilbury, it is said The World's End pub is haunted by highwayman called Nick Nevison, also known by his alias 'Swift Nick'.

It is thought he is the figure sometimes seen leaning over a child's bed in one of the upstairs rooms and re-igniting fires that have burned out.

Ghostly goings-on have been reported at St Clere's Hall in Stanford-le-Hope, which is now home to a golf club.

A female figure has allegedly been spotted in the main downstairs room, with another spectre sighted at a loft window. Staff have also complained of a feeling watched.

When a paranormal team visited the building they noted numerous 'energies', and extreme changes in temperatures.

A video camera was left running in a locked room and study of the footage showed nine separate light anomalies and three very bright sparks that flashed.

Epping Forest is believed to be haunted by one of England's most famous and glamourised highwaymen, Dick Turpin, who is beleived to have often stopped at Dagenham's Cross Keys pub.

Turpin, who once ruled the vast expanse of woodland, was publicly hanged in 1739. Over the years many people have reported seeing a cloaked, masked rider galloping among the trees.

Haunted Essex by Carmel King is published by History Press. It costs £9.99 and is available at most good bookshops.

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