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The Most Haunted House in Britain?

This house sits almost unnoticed along a quiet lane in the Peak District village of Upper Mayfield - but was once considered to be Britain's most haunted home and our answer to the Amityville Horror. To make matters even more bizarre the owners went to court to prove this, but were overruled by a judge who said he was satisfied that there were not enough paranormal phenomena to justify it being classed as haunted!


Andrew and Josie Smith bought Lowes Cottage in 1994 from two elderly sisters, with an agreement to pay an outstanding amount of £5000 on the price within a set amount of time, and initially this seemed to be a potential dream home with a lot of possibilities after fixing it up a bit. However, within a few weeks the Smiths claimed that all hell had broken loose – literally! A mysterious fog inside the house, overwhelming stenches, slime running down a wall, "an evil presence", even a pig-like phantom in the garden were some of the phenomena they reported.


Events culminated with Mrs Smith being woken in the night by an invisible being which she alleged held her down and tried to molest her. In desperation the couple asked a vicar to help, and an attempt was made to exorcise the cottage to no avail, in fact the Reverend's efforts only triggered another alleged attack on Mrs Smith before "something" suddenly left her mid-assault to run upstairs while making "a terrible groan". Josie also claimed that she had seen an apparition of a woman struggling against some force on the bed and wondered if she was somehow being caught in some kind of re-enactment.


Like a scene from one of the Amityville Horror movies, Andrew Smith even began to dig the garden up, convinced that the corpses of a pair of dead servants from the previous century were buried there and were causing the paranormal phenomena. After returning to the house after a stay at a relative's house for respite, the Smiths even claimed they found their two pet budgies dead in their cage, both in exactly the same angle and position as each other leaning against the grille.


Unwilling now to pay the outstanding debt on the purchase price the Smiths, now living in emergency council accommodation, were summoned before Derby County Court. They testified that the house was too haunted to live in and that the old sisters had known this beforehand, hence the low asking price and easy-going terms. Reverend Mockford even took the stand to describe seeing water running down a wall but leaving no puddle and experiencing the smells from hell.


The judge was having none of it and ruled in favour of the sisters, making this the only known judgement in the UK of whether a house is haunted or not! Judge Stretton was scathing in his summing up, pointing out that it was odd that none of the activity ever happened when anyone else was in the house, and that having children over to play with their own son and daughter would have been impossible if things were being hurled across the room and water was pouring from the walls.


The current owner of the cottage has always kept an open mind but once invited a TV crew, led by ITV veteran John Stapleton, to spend the weekend there to produce a documentary. Their equipment malfunctioned continually and during investigations a tiny hidden room was actually discovered. It is interesting to note that the main street through the village of Upper Mayfield is called Gallowstree Lane – if one were to believe the Smiths then could this go some way to explaining a supernatural presence? There is a Gallowstree Hill nearby so it's likely that the condemned were taken along the lane...perhaps locals gathered along the lane to watch, giving it the name?


During the rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 the Scots army actually marched through the village of Upper Mayfield before halting and turning heel back to the Highlands, but they managed to raise hell in the village and its neighbouring settlements. The locals barricaded themselves in the main church at Mayfield while the Highlanders fired volleys of musket shot at the door and windows, and holes from this incident can still be seen in the church door today. It is said that a local pub landlord was hanged off a bridge with another man and today this place too is known as Hanging Bridge.


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Gallowstree Lane, Upper Mayfield

Lowes Cottage

Lowes Cottage

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