More on Monken Hadley.

Although I love ghost stories and creepy goings on I’m not a ‘believer’ – just yet. That doesn’t stop me getting deep into scary midnight jaunts and poking around spooky places in the hope of a good old scare (or maybe more, a ghoul or goblin perhaps?).

When I recently read that Paul Baker, City of London guide and ghostwalker, gave an interview explaining that “It’s said Monken Hadley is the second most haunted village in the country” I got quite excited indeed and spent a bit of time researching its history.

The Anglican Parish church of St.Mary’s was restored in the Victorian era but a church has stood on the spot of St.Mary’s for the past 800 years. The area has seen a approximated 1,000 year history full of dark stories – the bloody Battle of Barnet where almost 3,000 men were slain on the misty common at Hadley Green, a ghost obsessed police constable so traumatised by spirits that he was eventually confined to an asylum, sad, wandering widows and executed Lords and Sirs, including Sir William Brereton who was executed along with Anne Boleyn.

Despite all this dark promise, I have found nothing to fear on my Monken Hadley visits. Although there was no supernatural activity I did stumble across an table stone that was slightly raised and had a fairly large cracked hole in its side. Spooky enough to warrant a tremor of excitement in me, I stuck my camera to record some kind of evidence, also I needed the flash to light up the grave, as it was pitch black without. This is what I found:

A whole lot of nothing, as you can see. Never mind, what the churchyard lacked in spooks and ghosts was infinitely made up for in interesting stones and engravings. My favourite ones are cracked, crumbling and covered in lichen – some caskets and stones are even ‘stapled’ together with lengths of iron, like patchwork. There is also one particularly attractive stone, featuring a striking medallion of a swooping dove, sitting quite awkwardly under an ivy strangled yew. It’s well worth a walk around St. Mary’s churchyard, if only to find the following:

Daffodils at Udny Cemetery, Aberdeenshire.

One of the cemeteries mentioned in the brilliant ‘A Scottish Graveyard Miscellany’. Behind the lovely yellow spring time flowers you are viewing a mort house. A mort house was employed in times when resurrectionists were at their peak. The mort house housed corpses for time enough until the bodies would have deteriorated, no longer be of use to anatomists, and therefore resurrectionists would not come a-digging. This mort house had a carousel inside, which, on rotation for two to three weeks, would be turned daily, adding new bodies as and when. Unfortunately for the dead of Udny, this mort safe came into use just as the need for mort houses, mortsafes, watchtowers and the like lessened as a new legislation was passed making it a lot easier for anatomists to obtain bodies – legally.

Kindred Spirits

The following have been so kind as to mention me in or link me from their blogs. It’s only right that I do the same in return, especially because all of the blogs below are excellent resources for grave minded folk.

Pumpkin Rot: What’s Brewing

The Dark Sublime

The Horrors of it All

Dark US

Madonna and Christ at Kensal Green Cemetery, London, UK.