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Top six ghosts from Watford and the rest of south west Hertfordshire
Updated 2:36pm Thursday 13th March 2014 in News
After the reported sighting of Lord Arthur Capel in Cassiobury Park this weekend, a spooky mood has descended over the Watford Observer office.
Here are our top six ghost stories from the town and surrounding areas, starting with the famous park ghost himself.
1. Lord Arthur Capel - Cassiobury Park at the centre of Watford was once the family seat of the Earls of Essex. A grand house with landscaped gardens and avenues of ancient trees stood there until 1927.
By night it is said the remains of the estate are haunted by Watford’s best known ghost, a headless cavalier, Arthur, Lord Capel, described by historians as one of the most zealous and highly esteemed of the Royalist nobility.
He fought bravely for the King during the Civil War, but finally surrendered to the Parliamentarian General Fairfax in expectation of receiving honourable quarter, Sadly for him, this was a little optimistic as he was beheaded in 1649, the same year as Charles I.
Lord Arthur Capel following a dispute over a parking space.
2. Maid Mary - Abbots Langley received national press coverage when the parochial church council proposed to tidy up the graveyard. This involved uprooting the gravestone of Mary Treble, or Maid Mary, the village ghost.
Mary was sometimes seen leaving Abbots Langley parsonage en route to her tomb, clothed in a ghastly white shroud. According to local legend she was a sewing maid employed at the vicarage by Canon Parnell and his formidable wife Angus.
Mrs Parnell ruled her household with a rod of iron and often chastised unruly choir boys and servants in her parlour. This room was supposedly haunted by Mary and had to be exorcised during the war years.
Surprisingly, Mary seems to have been a well-known and well-loved figure in Abbots Langley, remembered principally for giving sweets to small children. She died as an old lady in the mid 1920s. After her exorcism, her ghost was never seen again – unless you know otherwise.
Maid Mary recreates the Beatles "Abbey Road" album cover in Abbots Langley.
3. The phantom diner - Copperfields, once a restaurant situated in a building in the centre of Watford that is more than 500 years old, was said to be haunted by the grainy image of an Elizabethan gentleman.
Several people working there said they saw the phantom diner, who was over five foot in height and appeared in period costume as a grey, slightly blurred image.
"Excuse me, there's a hair in my soup".
4. "Fred" - The former premises of the Watford Observer in Rickmansworth Road, now developed for housing, was haunted by a ghost known as Fred. Wails and howls could be heard in the building late at night. Lights switching on and off in the print room, phantom hands and spectral sneezing were commonplace.
Fred: "Can you get me a string of nibs for page six Oli?"
5. The headless guest - Sarratt wins the prize for the most haunted village. In a house called Rose Hall a guest awoke to find “the figure of a well-dressed man stooping over the bedcovers. He was wearing a blue coat with bright gilt buttons, but he had no head”. A century before a man dressed in the same way had been found decapitated in that very room.
The headless guest takes a wrong turn into the village pond.
6. Satan himself - A headless man is not the most fearsome apparition you can meet in Sarratt. In fact, it would be much more disturbing to meet an apparition with a head – and horns.
As Sarratt Church was being built in the Eleventh Century, it is said that Satan himself undid the stone work, removing the blocks as quickly as they were laid.
The builders finally gave in and decided to erect the church elsewhere. Old Nick now likes to revisit the scene of his ecclesiastical victory.
Satan takes time-out to bother some builders in Sarratt
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