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Ghost tours in Prestbury Cotswolds England’s most haunted village cancelled over vicar complaints

Ghost tours of ‘England’s most haunted village’ have been cancelled after the vicar complained and threatened to sabotage them.

The Gloucestershire village of Prestbury is well known for its ghouls and paranormal activity, with tales of hooded figures haunting residents and phantom noises in the dead of night.

For years tourists have travelled from far and wide to experience the Cotswold Ghost Tour around the village. 

But owner Mike James, 45, has been forced to scrap his tours after a run-in with the local vicar. The last one will run on November 9 to honour a previous booking. 

Reverend Nick Bromfield says the spooky visits are ‘not Christian’, and after finding a hen party on the driveway to his vicarage, he is fed up of them.

Reverend Nick Bromfield says Cotswold Ghost Tours around the village of Prestbury are ‘not Christian’, and after finding a hen party on the driveway to his vicarage, he is fed up of them

Rev Bromfield, 59, said: ‘Frankly, ghost tours have no part in a place of Christian worship and they don’t belong in a Christian churchyard.

‘We don’t want people’s stories about ghosts, spectres, poltergeists. It is not good for families, nor is it good for the many children we are blessed to welcome every week.

‘I was saddened to see our church used as a backdrop to promote ghost tours to children.’

He claims he has often seen tourists posing next to tombstones. 

Mr James says he doesn’t see the issue – and claims the vicar left him an angry voicemail trying to book himself onto a tour to ‘disrupt’ them.

He added: ‘He said he was going to go on one of our tours with a veiled threat of disrupting it.

‘I don’t really understand why he’s taken such offence to storytelling. Ghost stories take place all over the world. Why is Prestbury different?’

‘It felt like a personal vendetta to disrupt my business. It’s a series of unsubstantiated claims against us which our guides and I have been quite offended by.

The Gloucestershire village of Prestbury is well known for its ghouls and paranormal activity, with tales of hooded figures haunting residents and phantom noises in the dead of night

The Gloucestershire village of Prestbury is well known for its ghouls and paranormal activity, with tales of hooded figures haunting residents and phantom noises in the dead of night

‘They’re claims that would take more time than I have to sort out, so I backed down. But there’s no sense of bitterness. It is what it is.’

He claimed the voicemail was left two days ago.

He said: ‘He [Rev Nick] said he was going to come to our next tour to discuss the issues.

‘I’m not going to be there but one of the guides will be – we are quite concerned about it. That kind of presence isn’t appropriate.’

Why is Prestbury the most haunted village in England?  

Prestbury in Gloucestershire is often referred to as England’s most haunted village.

It is best known for the the most infamous story contains a mysterious figure called ‘Black Abbot’ – a hooded figure who endlessly roams the churchyard. 

On November 22nd 1990, Derek Stafford was photographing the floodlit gravestones in the churchyard. Although he saw nothing at the time, when his film was developed he was surprised to see that a mysterious dark figure had appeared on one of the photographs.

Inevitably the many skirmishes of the numerous conflicts, to which this part of the country were privy, have contributed generously to the ghostly populace of the village.

A spectral horseman on a brilliant white charger has been known to gallop along Shaw Green Lane in the early hours of misty spring mornings.

He is thought to be the ghost of a messenger who, in 1471, was passing through the village en route to Edward 1V’s camp at Tewksbury, when he was shot dead by a Lancastrian Archer. Interestingly, over the years, his phantom seems to be wasting away, since more recent sightings describe him as being little more than a dull glow.

The Burgage is the oldest street in the village and, during the Civil War, was billeted for a time by a detachment of Parliamentarian soldiers.

Each night they would string a rope across the road as a security measure against Royalist forces trying to get through the village.

One night their little trap yielded a rich dividend when a Royalist dispatch rider, heading to Gloucester from Sudeley Castle, galloped straight into it and was flung into the arms of his waiting captors who executed him on the spot.

Although he is never seen, his ghostly hoof beats are often heard in the dead of night, pounding hell for leather along The Burgage until they stop very abruptly as the phantom rider undergoes his ignoble fall, over and over again.

Source: Haunted Britain 

Reverend Bromfield confirmed he left a message with Mr James saying he would ‘observe’ the next tour – but denied it was a threat to disrupt it.

He said: ‘I left a message saying that when the next tour happens, in view of our concerns about safeguarding, we would be in the church so we could observe how they act in the yard.

‘I have got no interest in disrupting ghost tours. We are disappointed that it’s come to this but we feel that the church is being exploited.’

The tours had been conducted by Blue Badge Guides who are qualified and regulated by the Institute of Tourist Guiding. 

The reverend claims the pair had a meeting last year and came to an agreement on the nature and location of the tours.

He said: ‘We’d had enough. The stories were being delivered in a way that I wasn’t comfortable with.

‘Without them knowing they would be stood near recent graves – which isn’t something a mourning family wants to come across.

‘I met with the managing director and we had a good discussion. He agreed that tours would not happen in the churchyard.

‘They also agreed to remove some of the more fantastical elements of their stories.’

The reverend maintains his church – St Mary’s – was used in the background of promotional images and this has thrown up safeguarding issues.    

He claims he then tried to get in touch with the company again several times – before hearing that the tours had been cancelled yesterday.

Retired GP David Lyle, 65, grew up in the Prestbury, which is located just outside of Cheltenham and has a population of around 6,900.

He said he spent his childhood being told ghost stories – but has never seen any proof of ghoulish goings-on.

He said: ‘Prestbury has developed this reputation of having the highest number of ghosts. If you go onto Google and search ‘ghosts in the UK’ it will be a top hit.

‘People are now coming across the world here where as decades ago it was just people having a bit of fun.

‘Having grown up here and been a doctor here I have never seen a ghost – personally.’

The tours had been conducted by Blue Badge Guides who are qualified and regulated by the Institute of Tourist Guiding. 

The news that the tours had been cancelled caused a stir online – with some quick to debunk any ghoulish myths.

One said: ‘Waste of time trying to explain the very simple science that destroys the daft ‘paranormal’ claims, adherents will not be swayed just like every other superstition.

‘Batteries that fail on a cold dark night for instance…simple chemistry. Their ‘orbs’…defocused flying insects and/or camera flare.

‘Creaking stairs..wood returning to its natural state after being stressed.’

Another added: ‘So one superstition is scared of another? ‘Twas ever thus and has caused so much suffering and death over the centuries.

‘All because ‘my sky pixie is better than yours’. When will people ever grow up?’  

The most infamous story contains a mysterious figure called ‘Black Abbot’ - a hooded figure who endlessly roams the churchyard at St Mary's (pictured)

The most infamous story contains a mysterious figure called ‘Black Abbot’ – a hooded figure who endlessly roams the churchyard at St Mary’s (pictured) 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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