Mysterious phenomenon in Maidstone

It’s the spooky season, so why not do some socially distanced ghost busting whilst out walking in your groups of six? Here is a collection of little stories from Maidstone and the surrounding area that I lovingly garnered from various sources (referenced at the end) in honour of Halloween – and my birthday..


Fiddlers Copse

There is a little known secret underground tunnel at St Mary’s Abbey in West Malling rumoured to have been once been used by nuns looking to escape their duties for ahem mischief in the local villages. The route and destination must have been forgotten over time, because two men became obsessed with following it and finding where the tunnel finished.

One of the men, a fiddler, decided he would walk along the tunnel playing his fiddle, the other would follow him along at surface level and map the route of the tunnel. The plan seemed to be working well until, in the middle of a woods, the sound of the fiddle abruptly stopped. The fiddler was never heard from again… The copse was named in his honour, Fiddlers Copse.

Sadly even my most fervent Googling could not determine the exact location of Fiddlers Copse, but from the story, I determine it to be somewhere between St Mary’s Abbey in West Malling and the village of Ryarsh, about six miles out of Maidstone. I like to think that if you stop there, you might still hear the ghostly wailings of the lost man’s fiddle.


The Beasts of Bearsted

The Church of the Holy Cross in Bearsted hosts three of the most peculiar looking stone guardians gazing out from the top of the bell tower. It’s difficult to tell what animals these beasts are supposed to represent but, according to the church website and their research on mediaeval bestiaries, they are speculated to represent a lion, a panther and a griffin symbolising the Cross of Christ.

There’s a fun rumour that, once a year on an unspecified day, the beasts come to life and jump down onto the village green to stretch their legs… Though this is difficult to verify when no one has actually witnessed them leaving or returning to their posts.


Snooze Yew Loose

You will often find a yew tree planted in a church graveyard, it’s believed their roots would keep the dead in their place by growing through their eyes (gross). Dating back to Celtic times they have been associated with immortality and rebirth, living possibly the longest of any species of tree. Ironically though, nearly all parts of a yew tree are poisonous and touching or ingesting any of it can lead to skin irritation, hallucinations or death. It is with fair warning then, that I advise you DO NOT touch or eat the amazingly massive (around 30 feet in circumference) Yew tree resident in the All Saints churchyard in Loose, said to have been there longer than the 13 th century church, longer even than Jesus himself!


I will iterate again, you should NOT try this yourself, but there is a local legend that if you stick a pin into the tree, run round it twelve times anti-clockwise at midnight and then look into the small window above the Charlton Pillar Memorial you will see a face. Or, if you’re really hoping to jangle your nerves, do all the steps as above, stand on the tomb near the Church porch and look through the trefoil window and you will see a woman killing a young child.
Between the hallucinogenic death tree, being in a churchyard as midnight and running twelve times in a circle, I’d say it’s enough to make anyone see things!


Ye Olde Thirsty Pig (located on my favourite ‘Knightrider’ Street)

Anyone who has been to the Thirsty Pig will know they can be just as easily unbalanced by the rustically wonky architecture and the wide variety of spirits routinely provided in pubs (besides the haunting kind), but did you also know it is one of the three oldest buildings in Maidstone built circa 1430 to 1440? ‘Pretty much guaranteed to have an apparition or two’ I hear you cry. Well you’d be correct. It is written in ‘Secret Maidstone’ by Dean Hollands that “A half-submerged Civil War Cavalier haunts the upstairs” and “a young girl haunts downstairs; footsteps are heard, and heat is felt from an unused fire place.” In researching for this article, I also found an ominous Youtube video with patrons attempting to contact the ghost through a séance and receiving a rap on the table in response. Despite this, the pub website assures that the atmosphere is still good and I would definitely highly recommend a visit!


This barely scratches the surface of strange going-ons, mysterious events and unexplained phenomenon going on in and around Maidstone. If you’d like to find out more, you can find most of books I have referenced and information in your local library, book store or Maidstone museum. Have a happy and safe Halloween, especially in these strange times we are living in.

Cassie


Photo’s by http://kentphotoarchive.org.uk & Stephen Golding

References:

Fiddlers Copse

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-1186130/Lifting-lid-underworld-UNDERGROUND-ENGLAND-Stephen-Smith.html

Kent Lore by Alan Bignell

The Beasts of Bearsted

https://www.holycrosschurch.co.uk/thetowerandthebeasts.htm

Snooze Yew Loose

Kent Lore by Alan Bignell

Exploring Loose Village by Roger Thornburgh

Ye Olde Thirsty Pig

Secret Maidstone by Dean Hollands