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  • Karen Hamilton-Viall

The Ghost of Michelham Priory

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

My first ghostly experience was in a terraced suburban Edwardian house, not the sort of place you'd normally expect to find a ghost. Michelham Priory however looks just the sort of place that you might find spectres floating around every corner. The site has a long history of occupation and in 1229, an Augustinian Priory was built on the site. It was occupied as a religious site until the sixteenth century when the dissolution of the monasteries moved it into new hands. It's had a range of occupants over the years including Canadian troops during the second world war.

I knew before I went that the priory had a reputation for being haunted. I'd watched an episode of Most Haunted on the telly where they'd had some odd experiences. I'd also visited Michelham Priory when I was a re-enactor and had a slightly odd experience. I'd stuck my head up inside one of the fireplaces because one of the ghosts was alleged to hang out there. I came away feeling very nauseous and had to sit down till the feeling passed. Was that psychosomatic? Maybe, I've certainly stuck my head up many other historic houses chimneys and never felt that before.

My next experience was far more dramatic. Some years ago we were working not too far away from the priory at a castle and were kindly invited by friends who worked at the priory to stay in their flat for the week. The flat was on the top floor and was in an L shape. We work at historic sites all the time but there was something special about actually staying in one as a guest. The evening with our friends passed pleasantly and there had been no talk of ghosts between us. Sometime after everyone had gone to bed I woke to hear very loud dragging noises. I was feeling unwell that night and was in some pain so I wasn't feeling brave enough to investigate. I begged out loud for it to stop and it did. My husband, who is a sound sleeper, heard nothing.

The next night, in the middle of the night, the same dragging noises were back. It sounded just like someone dragging heavy furniture across the floor. I said out loud to my husband,

"You must be able to hear that!"

"Of course I can!" he said.

We both got out of bed to investigate. I walked around to the far end of the L where the kitchen was to see if any windows were open or banging but there was nothing. When I got back to my husband at the other end of the L, he said "Did you feel that?"

"No, what?" I said.

"It was like a whirlwind going around my head."

"No, oh.." the same whirlwind swirled around my own head.

Unable to find a reason for the noise or the wind, we both went back to bed. It was not till some days later that we both admitted to each other that we had a forbidding feeling that not under any circumstance should we enter the living room, which was next to our bedroom.

Our friends had never seen or heard anything and dismissed it lightly but admitted they were heavy sleepers. In the days that followed we tried to think about what could make the noise. There was no weathervane on the roof, no attic above us. Nothing had been moved in their flat the next day.

It was an odd experience, I forgot about it for a while but many years later I came across a ghost TV show called Extreme Ghost Stories, where a man had experienced a very similar but rather more dramatic version of my experience, in the same bedroom that we had stayed in! It helped to validate the experience for me. I'm not sure exactly what the ghost wanted but I think our presence was very unwelcome there.

You can see the property manager's experience here. The bedroom & living room shown are the ones I am talking about. It's the first story:

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