This claims to be the most haunted village in Gloucestershire (though PAINSWICK might well say the same), with many phenomena centred round Prestbury House (now a hotel) and a nearby street called the Burgage. These traditions are listed by Roy Palmer in his Folklore of Gloucestershire (1994), from a variety of printed and oral sources of the twentieth century. The chief ghost is a barely visible horseman, whose mount can be heard galloping wildly down the Burgage, then halting abruptly. Currently, the usual explanation is that during the
Civil War Prestbury House was occupied by Roundheads, but Gloucester itself was Royalist, and there was a Royalist army encamped on Cleeve Hill. Knowing this army would try to send word to Gloucester by night, the Roundheads laid a trap by stretching a rope across the Burgage at just the height where it would sweep a rider off his horse. This duly happened; the king’s man was injured in the fall and executed by his captors, and now his ghost rides through the village.

Another version tells the same tale, but in the setting of an earlier war; the messenger is said to have been trying to reach Edward II’s camp at Tewkesbury in May 1471. This is linked to the discovery in 1901 of a skeleton with an arrow in its ribs, found during road repairs at the north edge of the village.

Other Civil War soldiers haunt an old cottage, and ghosts of eighteenth-century revellers haunt the grounds of the hotel; a ‘Black Abbot’ has been frequently seen in the church, the churchyard, and in many parts of the village; there is a Phantom Strangler at Cleeve Corner, where a young bride is said to have been asphyxiated by a burglar who was after her jewels; a girl’s ghost plays the spinet in one cottage, and a woman is heard singing in another. Roy Palmer comments, ‘There are still more ghosts in Prestbury, including headless horsemen, phantom shepherds and sheep, an old lady in antique dress, and a misty form, identified as a former Mrs Preece, which drifts across the fields.’ And when Walnut Cottage was being renovated, the ghost of a former owner appeared, saying, ‘Here’s Old Moses. You see I likes to look in sometimes.’



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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