History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: All the old houses have arched windows outlined in white - all the better to bring luck.
The Ghosts of Pluckley
How on earth did Pluckley get the reputation as the most haunted village in England? The fault probably lies at the door of the Ginness Book of Records, which 'awarded' Pluckley that distinction in 1998. Every Halloween ghost-hunters and other, er, enthusiasts, descend upon the village in a peculiar annual rite.
The first known mention of ghosts in Pluckley dates to 1955, in a book by Frederick Sanders. Other stories have been added to the mix over the years, and a great many stories have been concocted to embellish the more commonly recognised 'real' accounts.
Of the dozen most often repeated ghost reports, there are a phantom coach and horses, a colonel who was hung in Park Wood, a ghostly highwayman killed while hiding in a hollow oak tree, a Red Lady of the Dering family, and a Tudor Lady living at Rose Court who drank poison.
It is said that a White Lady wanders the Dering chapel in St Nicholas church, and has also been seen in Surrenden, the Dering family home. Interestingly, a blocked up passage connects the house with the organ loft of the church. A mysterious old lady has been reported to appear at a window of the Dering Arms.
In addition to these 'ghost' appearances, owners of the Black Horse inn have reported objects that are mysteriously moved to odd locations, or appear and disappear.
If ghosts don't convince you to visit Pluckley, perhaps the peculiar widows of Pluckley's old houses will. Back in the 19th century, the local squire, Sir Edward Dering, decided that round-arched windows would bring luck. So, with laudible zeal, he had every window in the village converted to be circular-headed.
Its a strange sight; you don't notice it at fiirst but when house after house has the same Romanesque style windows, looking for all the world like arched eyebrows outlined in white paint, it all starts to look a bit peculiar. Even the village pub has arched windows.
The parish church of St Nicholas contains tombs of generations of the Dering family, including a wonderful collection of brasses ranging from the 1425 to 1610. The Dering coat of arms is even engraved on the 15th century font.
And, in case you're wondering, I didn't see a single ghost while visiting Pluckley! Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing I leave up to you.
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Pluckley, St Nicholas - 0.1 miles (Historic Church)
Charing Palace - 2.6 miles (Historic Building)
Charing, St Peter and St Paul - 3 miles (Historic Church)
Smarden, St Michael the Archangel - 3.1 miles (Historic Church)
Godinton House and Gardens - 3.6 miles (Historic House)
Willesborough Windmill - 6.9 miles (Historic Building)
Sutton Valence Castle - 7.2 miles (Castle)
Leeds Castle - 7.3 miles (Castle)
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