Aldbourne Heritage Centre

An Aldbourne Ghost Story

Alan Heasman found this article and transcribed it for us:

‘Leeds Times’ newspaper of 6 December 1890.

Letter to the Editor from the Reverend H C Lambert, Vicar of Baydon .

‘It was towards the end of October two years ago when business took me to Portsmouth. On the Saturday I returned, alighted at Hungerford Station, drove to Aldbourne, arriving there at 6pm. The parish of Baydon is about two miles further on and the evening being beautifully fine, a glorious full moon making all nearly as light as day, I determined to walk. Upon leaving Aldbourne, at first a short steep hill is mounted. On reaching the summit of this hill, I naturally looked ahead – the road was straight for about 400 yards and nothing unusual was visible; but some distance up, probably 300 yards, a workman, apparently returning from his labour, stood about the middle of the road. He was standing sideways, as if speaking to someone at a gate by which an adjacent field was entered. His short jacket looked snowy white in the moonlight but in the distance nothing else could be distinctly discerned. I said mentally ‘A mason’s labourer’ and walked on. Each moment I was getting nearer but this workman still held his parley, as I thought. He had now been distinctly visible before me for some minutes but no motion could I discover nor voice could I hear.

I advanced again; the moon shone brightly, not a cloud bedimmed its pale clear light. No, my eyes deceived me not – a short, slightly built man stood before me; he wore a white jacket, jet black trousers, he neither moved nor spoke. The road was narrow; if I passed it must be very near him. But why these nervous tremors? Was I a man, 6 feet in height, with nerves like steel when occasion required, was I afraid? Absurd! But yet I felt I stood alone near something supernatural. Some visitor of the nether world and I trembled. Another step and I was beside it. GREAT HEAVENS, IT HAD NO HEAD! Like lightning’s flash, the peasants’ folk lore crossed my brain. They tell of a poor suicide named DORE who many years before, unbidden had gone to his Makers’ presence. Can it be he? I spoke to him.

‘Dore, unhappy spirit, tell me, God’s priest, may I help you ? Will prayers avail? How long have you wandered these lonely roads ? Is that your hell? To be compelled to visit headless the scenes of your former life ?’ But no answer! I stood beside the spirit and raised my right hand to lay it on the snowy shirt –for shirt it was, not jacket – but lo! It passed through vapour which left no shadow! The sound of coming wheels in the distance, I looked away and when again I sought the phantom, it had gone, the baseless fabric of a vision, leaving not a trace behind. All fear of nervousness had left me but I was bathed in perspiration. I walked on absorbed in thought, my reverie being broken by BRIND, the postman as he drove quickly by. It was now but seven o’clock and I had reached the clump of trees where DORE (rumour said) had hanged himself and where his grave is shown. I stopped and looked but nothing more was seen; not have I since that eventful evening ever witnessed anything extraordinary although often have I walked that lonely road alone by day and night.Two well- vouched for instances , however, have reached me, one from the clerk of my church, a man of years and courage –an old soldier too. One night returning from Aldbourne , a short slight man noiselessly crossed the road immediately before him , carrying a ladder on his shoulder – doubtless to conceal his missing head- and vanished. Later still a lady (whose name I can give) one summer’s eve, by daylight, saw the self-same form inside the hedge, and watched it apparently dissolve into air.

And now, you scientists and religious teachers, let me ask, what think ye?’

Ida Gandy  wrote in Heart of a Village in the chapter ‘Beating the Bounds’ (pages 10 & 11) referring in detail to the ghost story , the location of Dor’s grave and records that hidden somewhere in the undergrowth of the copse (where he hung himself) known as ‘Dor’s Grave’, is a small tombstone. ‘Dor’s Grave’ is not marked on modern OS maps but the location is near Peggy Knowl Copse and Green Hill Trees,. Another writer ( Katy Jordan) about haunted Wiltshire gives the OS Ref as SU 274763

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *