In 1901, the Kentish writer Sir Charles Igglesden noted a tragic and picturesque tale of haunting on the Hawkhurst road at Marden. It seems that one Christmas Eve towards the end of the eighteenth century, a notorious highwayman named Gilbert stopped a coach in which an elderly man and his daughter were riding, and ordered them out onto the road at this spot. The girl had just got out when the horses bolted, carrying off the father and the coachman, and leaving the girl and the highwayman alone together.

As soon as the men could bring the horses under control, they returned as fast as they could to rescue the girl, but there was no sign of her; instead, they found Gilbert bleeding to death from a wound in his side. He just managed to explain that the girl had recognized him because he had murdered her brother in a previous ambush; she had produced a dagger and stabbed him. She had then run off. She was found next day hiding behind a tree some miles away, raving mad.

The highwayman was thought to be buried by the roadside at the scene of the crime. In the nineteenth century, local people shunned the spot, saying that every Christmas Eve a silent ghostly re-enactment of the deadly struggle could be seen, but by 1900 the story was almost forgotten.



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