Ghosts of Bredon Hill
Updated: Jan 7, 2021
I've written before about Bredon Hill in Worcestershire and some of the villages that surround it, so moving around from Elmley Castle we arrive at The Combertons...and as Halloween is approaching I'm uncovering the spookier side of these villages..
Great Comberton and Little Comberton began, like so many villages around Worcestershire, as Anglo Saxon settlements. Much of the land was in the hands of the church in one form or another until much of it was granted to various landowners during the Dissolution of the 1500s until the last manor was parcelled off and sold. It is thought that St Peter's church in Little Comberton was originally built on the ruins of a Roman temple, and with lots of artefacts from that era found around the surrounding countryside, including a full villa two miles away at Eckington, I can believe this claim.
These two villages have a strong reputation for the supernatural, in fact it is often claimed that this was the most haunted area in Worcestershire! Bricklehampton Hall is a huge Regency style mansion that sits on high ground overlooking the Combertons, with a tower that can be seen for miles. Although it is a residential care home now it was once the seat of a wealthy family and employed many servants and workers. One night during the 1920s a young man walked through the dark along the road between the hall and Elmley Castle on his way to meet his sweetheart, a servant at the hall, when she finished work. As he neared the main entrance he saw that she had gotten there early and he decided to creep up on her and give her a scare. The man sneaked along the hedge and jumped up behind her, with the intent to grab her around her waist, but recoiled in shock when his arm went straight through her! “it went clean through her body, corsets an' all!” he gibbered hysterically as he ran home before shutting himself away in his bedroom for weeks on end. Apparently the face of this lady was most definitely not that of his intended, and the shock was so great that he is said to have died a few weeks later.
That same place has been the scene of many strange phantoms, a black dog dragging a chain in it's mouth has been witnessed and cars have driven straight through people standing in the road. Sometimes a swan has been seen landing or taking off from the same spot, again a transparent apparition that disappears as suddenly as it appears.
A little further around to Great Comberton the road goes over the Mary Brook, and the old bridge there has also been the site of apparitions. During World War II two women were cycling along the lane to get home from Pershore when one of them stopped to look at the faulty lamp on her bicycle. When the lamp came back on she jumped as it revealed a man standing by the side of the road, and she jumped again when she realised she could see the hedge through his body...
Lantern Cottage in Little Comberton was once an inn with a reputation as a haunt for villains, highwaymen and others where they would plot crimes and share their ill gotten gains. Strangely though, a nun was often seen in the inn, who would tear the bedclothes off of sleeping patrons. In 1929 renovations at the Lantern revealed two skeletons buried in the yard – the remains of nuns? While the work went on a swan landed in the yard and steadfastly refused to leave, only flying off when the last of the bones were taken away, and they say there is an old photograph in existence taken of the work crew lined up with their tools – with the blurred outlines of two nuns added to the group...if I can find an image of this picture somehow I'll post it here first!
Are people still having strange experiences around the Combertons today? You bet! Part of the opening episode of the 1970s post-apocalyptic TV show Survivors was filmed in Little Comberton, chosen for it's unsettling atmosphere, but people still encounter apparitions while driving along the road into and connecting the villages. Let me tell you a story of my own...
I was driving towards the Combertons one night this year with my girlfriend, on our way to the Queen's Head in Elmley Castle. This was the night of the incredible lightning storm that delighted people across Worcestershire for hours, and we pulled over to look. I saw a big gap in the hedges and reversed my car back against a gate on the other side of the lane. We walked across to the open gap and watched the show from this high vantage point. This natural fireworks show got the expected oohs and aahs, it looked amazing here in the total darkness with very little light pollution. However...I became aware of curious sounds coming from the hedgerow to our right. What sounded like footsteps, tramping up and down on the leaves and dry grass of the verge. I stood still, looking intently at the lightning storm and trying to ignore who or what could be walking along the verge in this remote place in the pitch dark. It became obvious that my good lady was aware of it too, it was impossible to ignore and we both knew that this was no animal and there were no people there.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, the footsteps seemed to approach us then die away, before beginning again where they started. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up and despite the wonderful lightning show we both knew what we were hearing. Finally we both turned in unison and pointed our phone torches at the hedgerow – nobody was there. We took pictures of the darkness then, trying to act casually, crossed the lane and jumped into the car. Despite my fascination with the supernatural I don't mind admitting I tore off pretty lively! The pictures we took didn't show anything, but we know what we heard...and the location of this somewhat tense experience? The bridge over the Mary Brook, where the ladies on bicycles encountered their ghost...
Lantern cottage today
Mary Brook bridge in daylight, to the left is where we stood
House in Great Comberton featuring an old bell pulley gear
House in Great Comberton