Haunted Kent: The Ghosts of Blue Bell Hill
Imagine the scene: you are driving through the historic county of Kent on a cold winter’s day. As evening draws in, you turn onto Blue Bell Hill. The weather is blustery and rainy, and visibility is poor. Suddenly, a figure darts in front of your car. The figure is that of a young woman who stops, startled. As you strike her, she looks straight into your eyes. Climbing out of your car you search frantically for the woman, who has disappeared into thin air. Shaken, you drive to the nearest police station and report the accident. The police officer seems remarkably unconcerned, but agrees to investigate. Returning to Blue Bell Hill there is no evidence that anything untoward has taken place. Bewildered, you begin to think that you are going mad. Then the police officer reveals that, like many before you, you may have encountered the ghost of Blue Bell Hill.
The road through Blue Bell Hill slices through an area of chalk down in the Medway Valley. Close to the site of a Neolithic long barrow and three sarsen standing stones, there is little else to set it apart from other similar English roads. In recent years, however, it has attracted national publicity as more and more people began to report inexplicable supernatural events. Today it is infamous for being one of the most haunted roads in England with over fifty reported ghostly sightings in the past eighty years.
- In 1934, a young woman, Renee, was riding her bicycle home on a dim Autumn evening. There was very little traffic and as she came down the hill she took advantage of the gradient to freewheel. Almost out of nowhere a dark mist appeared before her and as if she had hit something solid, Renee was thrown to the ground. Standing up she looked about her. There were no objects in the road and nothing to explain why she had fallen. Puzzled, she resumed her journey.
- In the same year, a gentleman was riding his motorcycle on Blue Bell Hill. It was about eleven o’clock on a cold winter’s night. As he travelled homeward, the man saw a young woman standing in the middle of the road. Concerned for her welfare the gentleman pulled over and offered the girl a lift. The girl asked to be taken to Church St. close to the cemetery. Despite it being out of his way, he agreed and took her to her destination. Turning around to speak to her as he reached Church St. the gentleman was shocked to discover his passenger had disappeared into thin air.
- In December 1967, ‘The Kent Messenger‘ reported the strange tale of a man and his friend travelling home late at night. As they passed the bus stop at the foot of the hill, they saw a young woman standing alone. Realising that the last bus had long gone, they pulled over and offered her a lift. The young woman accepted and climbed into the back seat. The girl gave her address and the car travelled on. When they arrived at the address, the two men were astonished to discover that their passenger was no longer in the car. When they made enquiries at the house they were told by that it was once the home of a young woman killed a few years earlier on Blue Bell Hill in a tragic car accident.
In the winter of 1968, a gentleman called Mr. Chester was pushing his bicycle up a steep section of the hill. Despite, the weather being cold and wet, he was stunned to see a young woman emerge from the trees at the side of the road in a flimsy cotton dress. The woman was bedraggled and appeared distressed. After he passed her, he glanced back over his shoulder out of curiosity. The young woman had disappeared.
- In 1969, a similar incident occurred on a rainy night. A gentleman returning home from his late shift at a local paper mill took pity on a young woman standing drenched at a bus stop. Once again, the young woman accepted a lift and climbed into the back seat of the vehicle. By the time they reached her home, she had disappeared into thin air. At about the same time, an astonished lorry driver called into a local café for a strong cup of tea to steady his nerves. He reported that he had agreed to give a girl a lift to a nearby village. She climbed into his cab, before disappearing into thin air a few minutes later.
- In 1971, a young man called James Skene was driving home, when a woman suddenly appeared in front of his car. Braking quickly, he offered to take the woman home. Once again she disappeared before they reached their destination.
- Richard Studholme of the band Chicory Tip, believed he was the victim of a cruel hoax when he picked up a young woman in 1973. The girl asked to be dropped off but begged Studholme to travel on to her parents’ house with the message that she was safe. The obliging Studholme agreed as it was not too far out of his way. When he arrived at the house, the gentleman who answered the door informed the shocked Studholme that his daughter had died some years earlier.
- In 1974, Maurice Goodenough was driving on Blue Bell Hill when he struck a young girl. Climbing out of his car, he discovered that the girl was injured but her injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. Deciding it was best not to move her too far, he carried the girl to a grass verge and covered her with a blanket. He then proceeded to the police station down the road to seek help. When Maurice returned with an officer, the blanket remained but the girl had gone. The road and the car showed no sign of an accident.
- In the mid-'70s, a lady named Joy was driving on bluebell Hill. The weather was atrocious and visibility poor. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a lady wearing a long white dress appeared in the middle of the road. Joy only managed to miss hitting the woman. When she looked back in her rearview mirror, the lady had vanished.
- In September 1977 two men, Stephen Pope and Barry Collings, were driving home from work. It was a dark rainy evening and the weather was very windy. As they drove along Bluebell Hill, their attention was drawn by a woman wearing an evening dress standing at the side of the road. Despite the inclement weather, the woman was wearing a white evening dress and little else. Both men were struck by the woman’s stillness. Despite the wind, the woman’s clothes and hair remained unruffled. Believing that they had just witnessed a ghost, the men drove onwards very quickly.
- On 7th November 1992, Ian Sharpe was driving on Blue Bell Hill. It was very late and the road was largely deserted. Out of nowhere, a woman wearing light coloured clothes suddenly appeared in front of his car. As she locked eyes with him Ian could see her clearly and was able to describe her later to police. Unable to brake in time, Ian hit the woman before screeching to a halt. Climbing out of his car, he was shocked to discover that the woman was nowhere to be found. Disturbed, he drove to the nearest police station to report the incident.
- In late November 1992 a young driver, Chris Dawkins, was driving on Bluebell Hill. Once again, the weather was inclement and the evening was dark. Out of nowhere, a woman wearing a red headscarf dashed in front of the car. Unable to avoid her, Chris felt her hit the bonnet. Shaking, he got out of the car but could find no sign of the woman. Frightened that the woman may be trapped under his vehicle, he summoned his father and the police. Despite an extensive search, they also failed to find any sign of the woman.
Early in January 1993, a family of five were driving on Blue Bell Hill in the early hours of the morning. The driver Malcolm Maiden caught sight of a figure standing in the road. Slowing to avoid hitting her, the whole family were witness to what happened next. The person standing in the road was not a young woman but an old lady. The lady was dressed in old fashioned tattered clothes. An air of malevolence surrounded her and as they approached the grotesque figure, her face contorted with anger, she began to shake a bundle of twigs at the car. When the car began to fill with an evil black fog, the family sped homewards.
A Tragic Accident
Sightings of the Blue Bell Hill ghost continue to this day and there is much speculation as to the identity of the spectre or spectres. Locals have suggested that the haunting may be connected to the death of three young women in a tragic accident in late 1965. Some of the addresses given to unsuspecting drivers correspond closely to the areas where the women lived. Tragically, one of the girls was due to be married the next day and the sighting of a woman in a long white gown has been linked to the wedding she never had.
In November 1965, four young women were travelling home from a hen night. The driver of the car Suzann Browne was to be married the next day to an RAF technician Brian Wetton. As the four travelled onto Blue Bell Hill, Suzanne lost control of the car and crashed head on with a Jaguar heading in the opposite direction. One young woman died immediately, Suzanne and another of her friends died later in hospital. The accident was particularly poignant because of the age of the young women and the fact that it was the eve of Suzanne’s wedding. Soon after sightings of a ghostly woman escalated. Could it possibly be the ghost of the tragic Suzanne or one of her friends?
An Innocent Murdered
In August 1916, a young Rochester maid, Emily Trigg, set off to visit her mother on Blue Bell Hill. It was a trip she made every Sunday. The weather was fine and she wore a white cotton dress and a pretty bonnet decorated with pink roses. As she was a striking girl, she was noticed on the long walk by various witnesses. The last time she was seen she was in the company of a soldier walking up Blue Bell Hill. When she didn’t arrive at her destination or the place where she worked, her mother and her employer reported her missing. Sadly, Emily was never seen alive again. Her body was discovered six weeks later by a family out blackberrying on Blue Bell Hill. Her corpse was badly decomposed and her belongings and clothes scattered nearby. A piece of her clothing had been forced down her throat as a gag. For many, Emily is a more likely candidate to be the ghost of Blue Bell Hill. The girl that is sometimes seen is often described as wearing an old fashioned white gown. She also asks to be taken to Church St. Emily is buried in Burham Cemetery on Church St.
The Old Hag
The old hag has been sighted at least twice on Blue Bell Hill. Both times she has terrified people with her grotesque features and the palpable sense of evil which emanates from her. She has been linked to an old lady who died many years ago. The lady lived a solitary reclusive life in the woods near Blue Bell Hill. Her ghostly presence seems to resent strangers invading her space and satisfies itself by hurling curses at those who unwittingly cross her path.
Kent is a beautiful county with wonderful places to see. If you are lucky enough to visit the garden of England, be sure to stop off at one of Britain's most haunted roads. You never know, you may just be one of those drivers who encounters the chilling spectre, who over the years, has become known as the Ghost of Blue Bell Hill.