Rufford Abbey

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Rufford abbey, founded in 1148, was given by King Henry VIII to the Earl of Shrewsbury in exchange for lands he owned in Ireland. The refectory of the former Cistercian abbey was incorporated into a wing (now ruined) of a house built here in the 1600s.

The abbey ruins are said to be haunted by the ghost of a monk: Antony Hippisley Coxe, writing in 1973, reports that one witness, who saw the phantom in a mirror, described how it was dressed and was told that this was not the habit of the Cistercian order, which is white. However, it was later discovered that a monk answering exactly to the description had once visited Rufford abbey and indeed died there.

The Reader’s Digest’s Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain (1977) gives a more sensational account of the apparition, saying that only a skull showed beneath the cowl of this monk (much like images of the Grim Reaper). To this piece of Gothicism it adds that an entry in the parish register of Edwinstowe records the death of a man ‘from fright from seeing the Rufford ghost’. As neither Hippisley Coxe nor the Reader’s Digest cite chapter and verse for any of their information, it is hard to say which is the more authentic report.



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