The children of Aldbury once lived in fear of the bogeyman Simon Harcourt. A barrister of the Inner Temple and lord of Pendley Manor (1694–1724), he was used, like other bogeys, as a threat when they were naughty: ‘Simon Harcourt will get you – rattling his chains.’ The chains are traditional appurtenances of a penitential ghost, but why Simon Harcourt should be condemned to haunt the village is unexplained. He may have been numbered among the ‘wicked gentry’, although the Hertfordshire historian John Cussans records that in Harcourt’s will dated 29 July 1721 he gave £150 to buy land, the rental from which was to buy bread to be distributed every Sunday among the poor regular attendants of the church.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008

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