Westminster Abbey has a mixed history but most of its earliest accounts have since been lost in legends. Today, the site is known for its religious and royal significance but most of all, the associated paranormal activity.
Let’s take a good look into the ghosts of Westminster abbey. What have you heard about it so far?
What makes these poor spirits eternal prisoners to the old church?
To better understand this, we’re going to start near the beginning. I say near the beginning because it’s not clear whether the Isle of Thorney, where the Westminster Abbey presently stands, was the site of an early monastery or just consecrated land.
One thing is for sure though… the beginning was tied to religion and some sort of spiritual reverence. Rumor has it that King Saeberht built a church dedicated to St. Peter on Thorney Island between 604 and 616 AD.
Many years later after undergoing several renovations, King Edward the Confessor rebuilt the church again. It is said the ghost of St. Peter himself came and sanctified the church a night before the official ceremony.
A fisherman who witnessed the event says the sky lit up and angles sang! What’s even more amazing is that our St. Peter ghost was not doing the ‘walking on water’ thing anymore so he hitched a ride with the fisherman.
He even went further and asked the petrified unlucky fisherman (unlucky because he hadn’t caught anything that day…) to keep the meter running as he went about his consecrating business.
How did St. Peter pay for the ride? A net full of salmon; but not before slapping him with the terms and conditions: Always take 10% of every salmon catch to the Abbey and give it to then Bishop of London, Mellitus.
And thus the one thousand years tradition of stuffing monks with fish at the Abbey for fishermen on the Thames began.
Despite the rosy beginning of the Abbey which was also plagued with controversy, things took a different turn when royalty became involved. Have you watched A Game of Thrones the series?
Now that’s exactly how these guys did it back then.
A quick forward to 1066 and now much of what we can remember or justify in small bits begins around this time. Kings (Charles I) are being killed by politicians (Judge John Bradshaw) and princesses (Elizabeth I) are calling their cousins (Margaret, Countess of Derby) witches and monarchs being overthrown… it has been a hectic time!
The Westminster building as it stands today has seen more changes (renovations, demolitions and name changes) than you’ve done a change of clothes in your lifetime!
A monk died in the early building during a stick up, there are several cases of exhumed corpses (some of which were royalty and some hanged after being dug out… the horror!) as well as countless stories of deaths (whether natural or murder) that happened here over the years… ever heard of “Bloody Queen Mary”?
Above all, this has been the burial ground for royalty as far back as the monarchs go. Oh, plus one known case of an unknown!
The Westminster Abbey is home to over 3,000 graves and some of the most outrageous atrocities in history were carried out here…so why would there be no trouble from the other side?
This building is practically a place of rituals (coronations), spritism (bordering on religion and occultism) and an overstuffed graveyard. Why then wouldn’t there be a ghost or two?
Has anyone ever seen a ghost at the Westminster Abbey? Who are these ghostly creatures vacationing at the Abbey?
Apparently his ghost is heard pacing around his former office (Triforium) and a few people have seen him together with the government officials (Henry Ireton and Oliver Cromwell) who supposedly helped him execute King Charles I for high treason.
Why wouldn’t he haunt the hell out of the Westminster Abbey? They kicked him out, a judge that had the power to slay a king, and brought in an unknown foot soldier from World War I… why would he not be pissed? Wouldn’t you?
The story goes that after his natural death (malaria) in 1659, he was buried at the Abbey. Guess what King Charles II does soon after he regained power and England’s throne to punish the already dead and stinking Bradshaw and his “crew” to avenge his father?
He has them exhumed then hanged! Now why does anyone hang a dead body from the gallows? Rumor has it that John Bradshaw’s ghost is always seen in deep thought or in serious conversations (when sited with the Cromwell and Henry) maybe discussing or pondering over his decision to off the king.
He is the first reported ghost to set foot on this site. Our guess is that he came to inspect the masonry that went into building his crib. Plus sprinkle a little blessing, if the fisherman’s story is anything to go by.
Remember the monk who was killed during a robbery? Well his name was Benedictus and he is one of the regular visitors at the Westminster Abbey from the other side.
One way people have tried to explain his regular early evening visits is that maybe he died too soon and it has never really hit him that he’s actually dead.
He is the only ghostly figure who appears in an almost solid form. Some say he gives Casper a run for his money on the friendly ghost category. Visitors at the Abbey have talked to him and there were two ladies who allegedly got into a staring competition with him for a whole 25 minutes!
The Unknown Soldier
After losing so many good men on the war front, England decided to choose a random unknown body from the graves at the battlefield in France and bury it at the Abbey as a representative of all unknown felled infantry men during the war.
It is said that a shadow spirit of a soldier wearing a full khaki uniform and boots can be seen beside praying and bowing as if paying his respects. There are many unknowns in this story since the shadow ghost is just as much a mystery as the guy lying in the grave.
Any More Ghost Stories?
Of course there have been more reported sightings of various apparitions such the procession of hooded singing monks reported by several people among them a guard at the Abbey.
Another lady visiting the grave of the Duchess of Suffolk, Frances Brandon (Bloody Mary’s mom) at the St. Edmund’s chapel swore that she stood there for almost 20 seconds and watched a gate close by itself!
Can any of this paranormal activity be backed by solid evidence?
We can’t tell… we just report it… it’s up to you to decipher it!
So what do you think of the ghosts of Westminster abbey?
Can any of it be true?
Share your experiences with us and let us know…