The Most Haunted House in England?
Chingle Hall in Lancashire probably holds the title of the most haunted house in England, but the strange story surrounding Lowes cottage in Staffordshire must surely be a contender for the title. I have investigated many stories which seem to centre on the strange Leek to Ashbourne road, from Phantom Black dogs at Bradnop and Swinscoe, a ghostly horse and carriage at Calton, strange lights and Fairies at Caldon Low and the Manifold valley, unusual disturbances and hauntings in the Coombes valley and last but not least Fairies at Ladymeadows on the outskirts of Bradnop, all these things can be found close to the Leek to Ashbourne road and this stretch of road is no longer than ten miles in length!
From 1994 when the Smiths brought Lowes cottage until 1998 they were subjected according to their testimony to a series of terrifying events, walls were seen to run with water and yet ten minutes later they were bone dry, horrible smells were detected and thick mists that would move from room to room were seen. These events increased in frequency and included sightings of apparitions in the house, also assaults and an attempted strangling of Josie Smith by unseen entities.
When the Smiths moved into the property they had only been able to raise £41,000 of the £44,000 needed to purchase the property, so an agreement had been made with the two sisters who owned the property that the remaining money would be paid in installments over the next three years. Because of the disturbances claimed by the Smiths they decided to withold the final payments and to cut a long story short the two sisters took the Smiths to court to recover the money. This resulted in the news reaching the national papers and a high profile court case developed. The Smiths claimed they were not properly informed of the paranormal activity before they brought the property, and the two sisters stated that they had never experienced any paranormal activity in the house.
However Andrew Smith went on to claim that he had been alarmed to find the rooms of the house filling with a thick heavy fog which was accompanied by an evil presence, the fog was so thick he claimed it was difficult to move his arms through it, he then felt the pressure building within the house as if it was about to explode. Also a nauseating smell accompanied this phenomena, on two occasions Josie Smith found herself pinned to her bed by an unseen assailant.
A Reverend Mockford had performed five exorcisms in the property to try to solve the problems that were taking place here, but alas without any success. On one occassion he turned up unannounced and upon laying his hands upon the walls in the couples bedroom, water started running down the walls even though it was where no pipes were located and it was also a hot day, no water pooled at the bottom of the wall and the wall was dry to touch within ten minutes! Another attack occurred when the Reverend Mockford suggested that the couple sing religious hymns in the hope that it would exorcise the entity, all this achieved was Andrew finding his wife thrashing around on the bed fighting for breath as if some invisible entity was strangling her, he says “she struggled for what seemed like forever until the spirit left her, then I heard something go upstairs which gave a terrible moan which made my hair stand on end”. This prompted the family to make yet another exit from the house and move in with other members of their family until they felt well enough to return. At Derby Crown Court in 1999 the Smiths testified to a whole host of paranormal phenomena which had taken place in the house, this included poltergeist activity ranging from moving objects, strange groaning noises, creaking floorboards, footsteps, objects flying through the air, failing electrical equipment, acrid smells and strange sudden drops in temperature. Josie Smith claimed that she had seen an apparition of a bound and naked woman, a little boy with piggy eyes and a woman in 19th century clothing. Even the testimony of various witnesses among them the Reverend Mockford who testified that the paranormal claims were true were not enough to sway the Judges decision who then dismissed the case. The Smiths no longer live at the property and I read that the property had sold for 5% more than it was valued at, so the haunting hasn’t seemed to have affected the market value of the property. When I went to photograph the house I found that the name of the road which runs past the property is Gallows Tree lane, I wonder whether this has any bearing on the unusual events that are said to have taken place here!
Gallows Tree lane!