Earls Colne

1 min read

Richard Baxter, in his Certainty of the Worlds of Spirits (1691), gives an account of a phantom bell at Colne priory, the foundation of which as a cell of Abingdon abbey in Berkshire was confirmed by royal charter in 1111. By Baxter’s time, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it had passed into private hands. The tale of the bell was one of four ‘Stories’ sent to Baxter accompanying a letter from Mr Thomas Woodcocke dated 17 July 1691:

Mr Harlakenden … lived at Coln-Priory in Essex, (where I often was, his only Son being my Pupil,) … Off from the House was a Tomb-House, with a Chamber over it; his Butler, Robert Crow, and William, his Coach-man, used to lie in that Room. At Two of the Clock in the Morning there was always the sound of a great Bell tolling: They affirming it so, Mr Harlakenden slept in the Evening, so as to be awaked at One of the Clock, and lay betwixt his two Servants to satisfie himself. At Two of the Clock comes the usual Sound of a great Bell tolling, which put him into a Fright and Sweat, so as he jogg’d his Servants; who awaking, said, Hark, Tom is at his Sport … Upon a particular Occasion, Mr Thomas Shepheard, (who after went to New England,) with some other Ministers, and good People, spent a Night in Prayer, and had some respect to the place, serving God, to cast out the Devil: And from that time, never was any such noise heard in the Chamber.

‘This’, says the narrator, ‘I had from Mr Harlakenden’s own Mouth, and his Servants, Earwitnesses, when I was upon the place.’



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

Previous Story

Dagenham Park

Next Story

Hadleigh Castle

Latest from Blog

Eugène Deloncle

Eugène Deloncle was a French businessman and far-right political activist who lived from 1890 to 1944.…


Thixo is a creator god in Xhosa mythology. In Xhosa culture, Thixo is considered the highest…


In Tuareg mythology, Aziza are protective spirits or genies that are believed to inhabit natural features…


Irikuden is a legendary hero in Tuareg mythology, who is revered as a symbol of strength,…

Tin Hinan

Tin Hinan is a legendary figure in Tuareg mythology, who is considered the mother of the…