According to local legend, ever since his death in 1739, the ghost of the highwayman Dick Turpin, born at Hempstead, visits Loughton three times every year. He gallops down Trap’s Hill on his famous mare Black Bess and, at a certain point in his journey, an old woman jumps up behind him. The two then career madly over the countryside, bringing misfortune to anyone who meets them.

This second ghost is said to be that of an old woman of Loughton whom Turpin tortured by holding her over the fire to make her reveal where she had hidden her money. Edward Hardingham, in Lays and Legends of the Forest of Essex (1907), says that, as Turpin approaches the farmhouse where the widow lived, he quickens his pace. The old lady waits for him by the lime tree at the farm gate ready to spring up onto his horse.

As Peter Haining remarks in his Dictionary of Ghosts (1982), ‘This story is the only recorded example of one ghost being tormented by another!’



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