Supernatural Magazine

Haunted Gardens - Peter Underwood

Haunted Gardens - Peter Underwood

There is no denying that when we talk about ghostbusters, the daddy of them all is undoubtedly Peter Underwood. He is the author of over 46 books on ghosts and related subjects and has been a veteran paranormal researcher since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Nobody in the UK just now knows more about ghosts than Peter (in my opinion) The U.K’s Observer newspaper calls him ‘The World’s Leading Ghost Hunter’ whilst the Sunday Times calls said of him ‘He probably knows more about ghosts than any man alive’ These are just a few of the many quotes from Britain’s major newspapers all of which I agree with. I have reviewed some of Peter’s books before and this one ‘Haunted Gardens’ deals with (as it says on the tin) Haunted Gardens. Mind you, that’s not strictly true for throughout this book there are probably more stories of ghosts inside houses than outside in the gardens but hey, it’s about time that somebody looked at outdoor ghosts. Most if not all researchers will tell you that there are thousands of reports of ghosts seen outdoors, not necessarily in gardens. They have been seen walking down streets as solid as you and I and it’s only when we look again that they have disappeared. So what does this book present that makes it different from anything else?

Well first and foremost Peter doesn’t just reserve his garden cases specifically for the U.K. we have cases coming from Ireland, USA and Germany. Peter tells us that the chances of anyone in seeing a ghost is as high as I in 10. In 1998 a MORI poll based in the U.K. found that 92 percent of the population admitted to a belief in the paranormal. Peter tells us that there are several types of ghosts and not all of them he insists are spirits of the dead. It could well be, as he states, that on occasion, strong emotions, a great calamity or sudden death can be sometimes be left behind creating ‘something’ that people might call a ghost. He also states (which is so very true) that when we alter, modify or try and change a very old building, psychic phenomenon tends to occur. More importantly, he goes on, we may not know what ghosts exactly are but all the collective evidence would be accepted in a court of law. So what are ghosts he says? His simple answer is, “We don’t know”. And there’s the rub with all his ghostly investigations over the years, Peter accepts that strange things are afoot, that people do see what they claim to see but with all the variations of different types of ghosts, we just don’t know.

Anyway, let’s take a look shall we at some of the interesting cases that I found in this book. One of the more interesting outdoor ghosts in this book was the Brown Monk of Battle Abbey. Battle is only about six miles from where I live and I have visited the Abbey and Battle site (1066) on quite a number of occasions. Peter tells of a few instances where this Monk has been seen. The site of the famous Borley Rectory is also looked at and of course, it’s famous Blue nun who walks the grounds where once this fine rectory stood. It’s been seen many times by many different people and not always in a ghostly manner. On some occasions it has ‘appeared solid’. Furthermore, the nun has sometimes been seen clutching at her face as if she has been crying or in pain. Fragmentary human remains were later found with also a human skull. The jaw bone was identified as female, around 30 years of age and there was evidence of a deep seated infection. Could this explain why this phantom nun always held her face? The nun has been stated to appear on the 28th of July each year so why don’t we get the ghosts teams with an array of cameras and try and capture the next annual visit! There are also reports of ‘stone throwing’ in the rectory garden witnessed by clergymen, policemen and visitors, no explanations were ever forthcoming. The usual failing of camera equipment in the rectory garden was another strange feature of this area. A strong smell of cooking, lavender and incense has also been reported in the old rectory garden and watch out too for the ghostly dog at this location. Yet another weird story that comes from the Borley Rectory gardens was when a James Turner began to clear the brambles and rubbish from the ‘Nun’s Walk’ when he heard the unmistakable sound of children laughing, needless to say, no children were around at the time.

Camfield Place, Hatfield, Hertfordshire was once owned by Dame Barbara Cartland and boy has she seen her fair share of ghosts and other ‘weird phenomena’ The flowers story in this book is most peculiar as is her tales of seeing fairies in the garden and hearing a tree breath and she placed her ear next to it. She has also seen an angel but only its wings had any substance. She was later to see another angel in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Peter has obviously done his research on Barbara for there are quite a few interesting stories he tells, take for instance the time when she was being driven in a car and she let out a scream, the driver asked her what was the matter and she replied that he had driven into a flock of sheep. To which the driver replied ‘that there were no sheep’! It was later ascertained that a car had indeed driven into and killed some sheet at this exact location. I found Peter’s piece on Barbara Cartland extremely interesting.

Another famous outdoor ghost is that of Lawrence of Arabia who lost his life in a motor cycle accident. His bike is heard roaring along the road where he met his death and some people have seen him walk about in his Arab garb in the cottage grounds where he once lived. Bonnie Scotland is also awash with ghosts and Peter relates a few in this book. He talks about the ghosts of Edzell Castle near Brechin. One chap had the misfortune to witness one of the ghosts and he described is as looking like a piece of white lace giving off a sickly smell of strong pipe tobacco. There was one case in Peter’s book that I found interesting for a different reason and this was due to the fact that this ghost sighting had similarities to some UFO sightings. He tells of a sighting of some ghost girls at Glenarm Castle in County Antrim Ireland. Three children in old fashioned clothes were seen playing outside in a garden. However, here’s the rub, they were only visible from a certain angle, if you stepped back and tried to view them from a few paces further back, they would disappear, and if you returned a few paces to where you were originally, their they were in all their glory. This has connotations with ‘some’ UFO sightings in so far as when people take a step back to get a better look the UFO disappears only to return when they stand where they originally stood. Why can this be?

How about the phantom squirrel of Old Abbey House in Barnwell Cambridge? Apparently there are reports of a phantom squirrel and a phantom hare that have been seen at the front of Old Abbey House. The squirrel which is red and extinct to that part of Cambridgeshire, runs along a wall and drops to the ground. It always disappears in front of people who see it coming towards them. The hare is usually seen in the winter time when there is snow on the ground and sits there calmly on the ground only to disappear after a few minutes. No trace of the hare is ever found in the snow. Probably one of the most alarming and most certainly frightening cases in Peter’s book must surely be the floating head! We are still at the Old Abbey house with this one and one lady who stayed in the house, saw a phantom head suddenly appear at chest height, no body arms or legs were to be seen just a head floating in front of her. She saw this horrible form a further three times hovering and wobbling from side to side, then with a strange dip, it disappeared in front of her. Now that would be enough to spook most folk, certainly it would me!

There is a nice story of a phantom chair from the Old Battersea House in London. Apparently a 15th century Italian armchair is haunted by a man who has a little pointed beard and a big Elizabethan ruff holding a rapier sword. One chap, who didn’t believe in this story, sat down on the chair only to feel a distinct icy cold blast of air. The ghostly man was seen by one little girl who ran to her mother asking why the strange little man in the chair wouldn’t speak to her, needless to say, nobody saw anything. Then there is the strange ghostly footsteps that are continually heard at the Old Vicarage in Grantchester, Cambridge. So many people have heard these strange footsteps on a regular basis that it begs the question, why on Earth has nobody thought to audio or video tape these footsteps, its just begging out for it. ! One residence which has a ghost and a terrible history of violence and maltreatment is Rose Hall in Jamaica. Now I have personally visited this house, been inside it, been to the haunted bedroom where Annie killed her husbands and it sure is a right spooky place. Set in amazing surroundings with a magnificent view of the sea. Annie Palmer sure was a wicked woman.

It’s funny but when you read a book you always find something that you haven’t encountered before and I found it again in this one, it was a ghost that ‘shivers’ (I kid you not) The ghostly white lady of Sutton Place in Guildford Surrey has been seen by several people and when it approaches you it seems to shiver before disappearing, now I’ve never heard of that before, must be real cold being a ghost! Another interesting part of the book concentrates on the many ghosts in America’s famous White House. None more so than the ghost of Abraham Lincoln who has been seen many times by maids and servants in the house. Franklin D. Roosevelt another American President also tells of seeing Abraham Lincoln on several occasions. Ex President Harry Truman has also encountered ghosts there. I mentioned earlier in this review that ghosts sometimes appear when building work is being done on the homes that they used to occupy, well it would appear that this applies to gardens as well ! Dolley Madison built the rose garden in the Whitehouse grounds and 100 years after she had died Woodrow Wilson gave orders for that garden to be dug up, no sooner had workmen began to dig it up that the ghost of Dolley Madison began to appear as if she was disgusted with what was being done to her beloved garden. Do ghosts not have anything to do in the afterlife other than to ponder on what is going on ‘back home’! It makes me wonder sometimes if they have a camera tuned into the Earth plane watching events unfurl ‘back home’

All in all then this book provides an insight into ‘outdoor ghosts’ Yes the book is still jam packed with indoor ghosts, but what I think the author is trying to show you, is that most haunted properties have their ghosts not only inside, but outside as well, and in this book he has tried to bring more the ‘out door’ ghosts to bear. The book is peppered throughout with photographs of some of the properties and it’s always nice to have a vision of what the property or garden looks like. A well written and authoritive book by the master of ghost hunting which ads to the growing case files that show you that come what may and whatever you may think of ghosts be they real or not, there is no denying the absolute wealth of data we have to suggest, that at the very least they sure as hell are seen and that’s a fact.

TITLE: Haunted Gardens AUTHOR: Peter Underwood. PUBLISHER: Amberley Publishing, Cirencester Road Chalford, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 8PE. PRICE: £14:99. ISBN: 978-184868-261-0

Malcolm Robinson

Malcolm Robinson

I’ve been interested in the strange world of UFOs and the paranormal for as long as I can remember and in 1979 I formed my own research society entitled, Strange Phenomena Investigations, (SPI). Since forming this society, I have moved down to Hastings in East Sussex where I have started up a sister branch to SPI, entitled, Strange Phenomena Investigations England). SPI Scotland is now in the hands of a fellow researcher.