Well, as its Christmas Sunday, here is a little ghost story with a bit of ‘Christmas flavour’ to it.
All the accounts in it are true and (as usual) I interviewed most of the witnesses. It goes without saying, that I have permission to use peoples’ names where these have been used. I have taken it from the 3rd revised edition of my book “Dark Journey” released in 2005.
Hope you enjoy it . . . David.
IN ENFIELD OLD TOWN, on the northern outskirts of London, there have been reports of a spectral black coach drawn by a team of phantom horses that rushes silently down bell lane and suddenly vanishes
If legend is to be believed, the coach belonged to the evil ‘hanging judge’, Judge Jeffreys, who rides inside – the notorious 17th century Lord Chief Justice who believed in incarcerating and hanging political rebels until his own untimely death in the Tower of London brought an end to his reign of terror.
These reports of the coach, however, have been forthcoming for many years and it would appear sightings of it are usually at dusk or by night and that it is invariably seen travelling in a southerly direction.
One of the earlier reports on record relates that in1899, three factory girls from Ponders End on their way home from work witnessed the coach ‘rising out of the ground’ whereupon it sped off noiselessly with featureless passengers who could be seen through the windows.
In 1912. It was again reported by a lamplighter who saw it ‘passing through’ a house – presumably one that obstructed its original path.
Of course, it is obviously difficult to check the authenticity of some of the earlier sightings but a first hand report from one local resident that recently came to light gives an unique insight into this phantasm and (notwithstanding that this sighting occurred a while ago) provides new details about the Enfield mystery.
Mr David Hanchett (a pensioner who sadly died in December 1992) who lived close to Bell Lane at the time, recalled his encounter with the phantom coach to the author in 1989 and his intriguing account is as follows:
It was an unusually hot and humid summers evening on June 28th 1944 when, at about a quarter to ten whilst he was cycling home, just as he approached the junction of Bell Lane, (that particular section of Bell Lane having since been renamed Eastfield Road), he noticed an ominous black cloud approaching from the Southwest that was rapidly obscuring the remaining light.
He stopped temporarily to switch on his cycle lights. It began to drizzle when, to his surprise, he saw two moving lights behind a hedge which bordered some allotments to the left (now the site of council flats). These were some way off but, prompted by a sudden feeling of apprehension, he paused to watch, somewhat consoled by the fact that it was probably people walking out late. The lights got brighter and larger and it was plain that they were approaching the hedge.
The next moment, a tall black box-shaped coach drawn by a team of black horses, rocking silently from side to side with a coachman in the driver’s seat, came ‘straight through’ the hedge and sped parallel to this for some distance before veering off in a gradual curve and disappearing through the gates leading to some old garages which served some cottages standing a hundred feet or so away. The coach made no sound but an ‘electrical blue light’ surrounded its outline (including the wheels which were a foot or so above the ground) and as it passed directly in front of him, a brilliant white light momentarily illuminated the interior to reveal several passengers inside. The driver was wearing a tall black hat and a long whip was attached to a socket at his side.
But this was not quite the end of the story. Apparently, a young boy on a push-bike nearby also witnessed the incident. He fled, but David Hanchet was sure that he would not have forgotten the occurrence and that if he came forward (although he would now be in his late sixties) he would be able to verify this account.
After the coach had disappeared, Mr Hanchet rode about a hundred yards to Enfield Highway and asked a pedestrian if he had noticed an ‘unusual coach’ in the vicinity. This person had seen nothing, but Mr Hanchet noticed that the trolley-bus cables overhead were vibrating wildly and he thought this unusual as there was virtually no wind and no trolley-buses were in sight.
Anxious to shed further light on this incident, shortly afterwards, Mr Hanchet visited nearby Forte Hall and there he noticed an old map displayed on a wall that showed an old trckway and boundary line that ran alongside a field, denoting the exact route that the phantom coach had taken.
Asked about his reaction to what he had witnessed, Mr Hanchet explained that there had been more disbelief than fear, although he remained adamant that he had definitely seen the coach.
In an attempt to discover more about David Hanchest’s experience (and aided by a detailed diagram drawn by himself), I visited the location where he had seen the coach disappear. The garages themselves were no longer there, but a resident of a house in the immediate vicinity remembered the old cottages.
85-year-old Mrs Jessie Hargreaves had resided in the house since it was built in 1952 but said that the cottages themselves had long since been demolished. She had never seen the coach although her late husband had. He had been walking home late one night and had seen a coach drawn by black horses travelling down Bell Lane; interestingly enough, in precisely the same location that Mr Hanchet had seen the ghostly coach.
Another report from a resident who lived in the immediate vicinity would appear to verify further the existence of this elusive coach. Mrs Brenda Guiver was brought up at number two Eastfield Cottages where she lived with her family from 1948 until 1967.
It was Christmas morning in 1957 (she was then nine years old). She awoke in the early hours and, looking out of the window, she saw a coach and horses which she thought was the Christmas sleigh bringing presents. Excitedly, she woke her brother and both children distinctly saw the errie outline of a coach as it passed the gates of Albany Park before disappearing from sight down Bell Lane.
Evidence for the existence of Enfield’s phantom coach might well be accumulating by virtue of previously unpublished accounts such as these. In fact, there probably exist many other sightings spanning decades that may never come to light, partly due, perhaps, to the reluctance of some witnesses unwilling to risk their personal esteem or credibility.
Yet another report that I followed up might be seen to give further credence to the existence of this ghostly coach; albeit that on the occasion the coach was sighted in an area some two or three miles distant from Bell Lane. It comes from Mrs C. Ellis who describes her experience with few reservations about what she had actually seen.
The year was 1951 and Mrs Ellis – who lived in Lordship Lane at the time – describes a sighting she had in February of that year when she saw a coach clearing visible against the snow gliding silently down the road before it abruptly disappeared.
One evening in February 1951 about 8 o’clock when I was eleven years old and my whole family were in the living room laughing and gossiping and making the usual noise, I went over to the window to gaze at the snow which was falling heavily. It was so thick that that it came almost level to the kerb. Cars were few and far between then, and everything was so silent and so white, it was beautiful. I was only there about five minutes when this coach appeared from nowhere, but it was so plain to see. It was white with gold trimmings and the horses were slender and they were white too. There was a man sitting on top, he wore a red coat and black top-hat. That is all I saw; it was going at such a fast speed. I pressed my cheeks sideways against the window and just saw the rear wheels disappear. Even at that age I felt that something was not quite right but, although I told everyone I was not believed as there were no trackmarks the snow.
This sighting, whilst occurring occurring about 2 miles away from the common haunt of the Enfield coach, should not necessarily assumed to be an entirely different phenomenon.
Of course, the question remains open to debate, but in many of my past writings on this subject, (and as already stated) I have pointed out that a fact often overlooked when investigating psychic phenomena, is that many apparitions – be they of objects, animals or people – are subject upon certain conditions to bring about or aid their materialisation, an important one being the element of water.
But another important factor in the ‘psychic equation’ should not be overlooked here. For it is possible – in fact, highly probable – that many ghostly apparitions are dependent upon the presence of ley lines to aid their materialisation and that ‘they’ can travel along the course of these to lines and appear at different locations upon them, to be subsequently witnessed by unsuspecting people.
Briefly: ley lines are invisible – yet potent – lines of energy that criss-cross the earth’s surface connecting many ancient sits and monuments; or it would be more correct to say, that many ancient monuments – such as Abbeys, churches and stone circles – were constructed directly upon them.
This is not to imply that all cases of psychic phenomena are dependent upon the presence of ley lines to aid their materialisation, but it does mean that many cases of psychic phenomena (and I believe this to be the case with the spectral coach witnessed at Enfield) or ‘active apparitions’ could indeed prove to be no more than non-intelligent images or reflections of past events that have somehow become ‘caught’ in these fields of energy to be intermittently ‘replayed’ as shadows of their original forms.
The mystery of Enfield’s phantom coach is, of course, an old one and in the absence of scientific fact to explain its appearances – like so many cases of unexplained phenomena – will probably remain as romantic legend , with sceptics branding potential witnesses as being over-imaginative or misguided.
That much might be true in accordance with a scientific line of reasoning. But then it should perhaps be remembered, that many cases of ghostly phenomena cannot simply be explained away as ‘unsolved fact’, when so many rational people (many of whom are not even involved in the field of psychical research) attest so frequently to their actual validity. END
© David Farrant
The above case was first published in David Farrant’s book : ‘Dark Journey – True cases of ghostly phenomena from the files of the British Psychic and Occult Society.’
Never mind M.R James’ stories, David…they should have you on telly at Christmas, seated in luxurious leather armchair, snifter of fine armagnac at your elbow, clad in crimson silk and velvet smoking-jacket reciting spooky stuff like this by the flickering light of a candle – that’d go down a treat on Yuletide midnights to chill the blood.
Hesselius, I couldn’t agree with you more – David is Montague Rhodes James’ natural successor when it comes to ghost stories!
Enfield does seem to have more than its fair share of ghosts. As well as this one, there are stories of highwaymen, and not forgetting the famous case of the Enfield Poltergeist.
More like this, please!
Stories of the phantom coach have always interested me; which was why I was pleased to find these 1st hand accounts.
I’ll keep ’em coming!
As a boy scout in 1960, aged 13, I was at a Scout Meeting at Eastfield School in Bell Lane on a crisp, clear night in December when a fellow named John Ridley came in on his bicycle. He was trembling and sobbing with fear and I have never seen such terror in the eyes of one so young. When asked what was the matter he wept and said he had just ridden through a coach and horses in Bell Lane. He said they were travelling off the ground and made no sound. He could describe no further as he was in shock and was led away by the leaders. John had recently moved into the area from Edmonton and had no previous knowledge of any local legends. His tale was reported briefly – and not without a little derision – in the Enfield Gazette that week and poor old John never returned to our scout group. We always travelled in pairs after that but none of us ever saw the Phantom Coach of Bell Lane.
David – please contact me re the Bell Lane carriage as I can throw more light on this matter.
I have lived very near Bell Lane for 50 odd years. My father used to try and scare me with tales of the headless coachman. And I kindly carried on the tradition by scaring my son and daughter. I sadly have never seen the coach but I wish my car floated a foot off the ground to get over the speed bumps in Bell Lane