Take a look at Saffron Walden's ghostly past...

PUBLISHED: 14:41 30 October 2009 | UPDATED: 22:02 31 May 2010

St Helens Chapel.

St Helens Chapel.

SAFFRON Walden is known for its beauty and wealth of historical buildings. In the grounds of the museum are the remains of the twelfth century castle that put the town on the map. Further prosperity was brought to the town in 1141 when

By Michael Boyton

SAFFRON Walden is known for its beauty and wealth of historical buildings.

In the grounds of the museum are the remains of the twelfth century castle that put the town on the map.

Further prosperity was brought to the town in 1141 when the market was moved from Newport. The market Square remains in the centre of the town, surrounded by superb buildings and a central picturesque fountain.

However, this is where people were burned at the stake. The notorious Bishop Bonner (Bishop of London who also resided at his palace in Bishop's Stortford) had many people burned at the stake for their religious beliefs.

One of these poor souls was called John Newman. His grizzly death on August 31, 1555 is commemorated by a plaque that hangs on the side of the town hall.

Stansted has its fair share of ghosts and strange happenings. Take Mountfichet Castle. It is said that a figure wearing a white habit appears by the Grand Hall. A psychic called in by owner Alan Goldsmith discovered that the ghost was of a monk named Robert who died during a siege of the castle. He appears to comfort people who are having troubles.

Stansted is also home to the Arthur Finley College, the UK centre for psychic research. People from all around the world come here to learn and train in matters of the paranormal. Therefore it comes as little surprise that it is the source of many otherworld stories.

One comes from my own father who was indulging in a spot of night fishing at the lake in the hall's grounds, taking a place next to the earth ramp that cattle use to go to the water's edge to drink. It was a calm summer's night with a clear sky, the grounds lit by a silver moon. In the early hours he heard something being dragged through the long grass in the meadow behind him. He took little notice, thinking it was a fox dragging a kill back to its den. The dragging sound drew closer and he could now hear footsteps and breathing as if someone was struggling with a heavy load, but could see nothing moving. He followed track of the sound as it left the long grass, moved past him down the muddy ramp and out into the lake. The footsteps then returned up the slope.

He grabbed his fishing gear in his arms and rushed to his car. He returned home, ashen faced and recounted the story to me there and then.

If you drive towards Wicken Bonhunt from the Newport Road, you may notice a small stone and thatch building standing alone in a field on your left.

This is the deserted Saxon chapel of St Helen. It stands on the burial sight of warriors who fell after a battle from the Anglo-Saxon era.

In the 1970s excavations were carried out and 240 bodies, many with severe war injuries, were found.

Maybe the most frightening thing about this field of warriors is that it is said that the ghosts of those fallen can be seen to rise from the ground... but only to those who are about to meet their own end. Pray you don't see them.

If you have any ghost stories or sites of strange happenings, let us know. Write to editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk

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