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Prestbury - The Most Haunted Village in Gloucestershire
You will find the charming village of Prestbury, with its thatched and timbered cottages, on the north-east fringe of Cheltenham. It was made part of the Cheltenham Borough in 1991 following a boundary change.
Apparently more paranormal activities have been experienced here than almost any other village in England. Only Pluckley in Kent is said to boast more ghosts haunting its streets. It is, therefore an excellent place to visit during the build up to Halloween if you want to match a walk with the seasons.
Having parked your car in the small public car park just off Mill Street, an ideal pub to visit before or after your walk is the 17th century Plough Inn, Mill Street. The Plough Inn which is said to have begun life as a bakery, stands opposite 12th century St Mary’s Church where the ghostly Black Abbot is said to reside.
This delightful thatched pub serves well-cooked basic pub grub and a fine selection of real ales, which are all served with a smile. It also boasts a picturesque garden at the rear.
Your walk starts at the car park. On leaving it turn right into The Bank and right again into Mill Street then walk on in this direction until you reach the B4632 which – despite being a B road – is very busy. Caution is advised before crossing. Having crossed the road, walk 100 yards to the left until you reach a stile and a way marker. On entering the first field walk diagonally left until you reach another stile.
Now it is a matter of following a well-worn track, bearing slightly to the left until you come to a stile which bears right and takes you to yet another stile and a field leading to Queen’s Wood, which will appear in front of you. Now cross a track, having climbed a stile each side of the track, and enter the field that abuts the wood. This walk does not take you into the wood, instead keeping it on your right you follow its boundary and then a path which dips down past several old oak trees to a stile that returns you to the main road. As you walk this section Cheltenham’s famous racecourse comes into view, also the magnificent 15th century Tudor Manor House, once the home of Lord Ellenborough, a former Governor General of India, now the Hotel de la Bere, which like so many buildings in this area is reputed to be haunted.
Once you have crossed the road again, turn right and follow the pavement which bears left through a stylish housing estate. Soon you will spot a track on the left hand side which leads to a gate, and then a kissing gate and a field. You will now be approaching the Hotel de la Bere on the right and be close enough to admire its ancient architecture properly.
At this point a well-worn track, which appears on the horizon to the right, will guide you back to Prestbury. Having passed a series of paddocks and fields you will cross a footbridge and gate that would have once provided a crossing over a fast moving stream. This year it is bone dry, not a spot of water to be seen.
Keeping the hedge to your right aim for the right hand corner of the field where you will discover yet another kissing gate and a minor road that leads to Shaw Green Lane. As you walk this lane you may encounter a ghostly rider, said to be a royal dispatch rider. Walk this lane without hearing the spectral hoof beats and you will come to a footpath that travels through the houses and will take you back to Mill Street. You could return home at this point, or have fun wandering round Prestbury, spotting the many streets and buildings that are reputed to be haunted. These include:
- Sundial Cottage in the Burgage where you might hear a young girl playing the spinet. As the Burgage is a medieval passage, you might well encounter a phantom with an arrow through his heart who is said to appear from time to time too.
- Reform Cottage, Deep Street, is built alongside a monk’s burial ground, so be prepared to see a ghostly monk or two.
- In Mill Street you may well spot Mrs Pree’s ghost who glides along the road towards the fields. As this street is the scene of many hauntings, you may also meet the Black Abbot wandering there, also a man dressed in a mackintosh.
- Stand outside the Plough Inn and be prepared for the sound of horses hooves galloping down the street. Herdsmen once found it difficult to get their sheep to pass the Plough Inn and dogs are sometimes seen to cower beside the front door.
- High Street is home to a ghostly old lady in a large hat, a singing ghost and a woman in long cloths and a mob cap who glides two feet above the surface of the road.