The Ghosts Of Buriton: An Elderly Lady, A Fleeing Maid & A Faithfull Friar

Over the years the sleepy village of Buriton in Hampshire, England, has been home to a number of reported paranormal sightings by a variety of witnesses. The most famous "ghost" of Buriton is said to be that of the faithful friar.

The small village of Buriton is said to be home to a number of different ghosts
The small village of Buriton is said to be home to a number of different ghosts

Crouching low and ancient in the Hampshire downs the tiny village of Buriton has an air of timeless tranquillity. Moist winds sweeping in from the sea fill the hollow with gentle white mist, appropriate enough a setting for three ghosts that have been seen there in recent years - one of them reported from three different locations by three separate sets of witnesses. The heart of the village is a large pond, on one side of which is the church and rectory, and on the other the sprawling manor house which like so many in the region has been added to so often over the centuries that it is a living lesson in architecture. It is in this manor house where two of the Buriton ghosts are regularly seen - so regularly, in fact, that in 1957 the then occupier, Colonel Bonham Carter, made their presence a reason for an application for a reduction in rates. Though the chairman of the tribunal wondered whether an established haunting might not be an added amenity and so be grounds for an increase, the reduction was granted.

On a number of occasions, children at the manor have seen an elderly, smiling woman indulgently watching them at a play, and from their descriptions, it seems that she was a nursemaid of the period of the Gibbons (Decline and Fall) family who occupied the manor for much of the eighteenth century and who built the Georgian wing in which this ghost is invariably seen.


More spectacular and more frequent is the maid who is seen to hurry from the Tudor part of the house of the manor, across the wide courtyard and through a high brick wall towards the church. A careful examination of the footing and the brickwork shows that at the spot where the girl melts there was once a gateway, filled in probably in the nineteenth century. Although the lady's haste may be an excess of piety, there are, as always, rumours of rape and murder, but nothing is known which could account for this persistence of either of the manor servants.

Perhaps the most important ghost of Buriton is that of the friar who has been seen by at least four people in recent years. In the 1960's 11-year-old Jamie, who was living at the manor and who was a keen horseman, brought his pony into the stable yard at dusk one Sunday afternoon and was startled by a man whom he described as looking like a monk in a brown cloak standing silently behind a bale of straw. It did not enter his head that the figure was anything other than a real person, and his fear was not of the supernatural but of a rather menacing human stranger loitering in the yard. He said nothing indoors but made an entry in his diary: his parents did notice however that he was silent and withdrawn all evening and showed an unusual reluctance to go to the stable the following day. On Tuesday, his mother noticed the diary and contacted the rector, who talked for a long time with the boy and who went with him to the spot in the yard. Jamie described in detail the brown habit, the white cord knotted round the waist but could give no information about the feet because these had been hidden behind the bale.


What the boy told him convinced the rector that the figure was not of a monk but a friar - Buriton never had any monastic institution, and although the manor had been owned by the Benedictines before the Reformation it has always been let to a tenant farmer. As the story of Jamie's apparition became known in the village the rector was approached by a churchwarden who told him that the previous year she and her daughter had been gathering wild roses near the spot where a narrow lane from the village crosses the busy A3 road when they saw a man "like a monk" in a brown cloak with a white cord with tassels on the ends. They both assumed that it was someone playing a trick or trying to frighten them, and walked towards the figure which was a hundred yards or so away to see who it was. As they neared, it vanished on completely open ground.

These reports led the rector to look again at accounts left by one of his predecessors who had been in the incumbent from 1936-1952. The cleric had been working in the rectory garden when he noticed a brown-robed figure approaching along an avenue of beech trees behind the house, significantly known as Monk's Walk. He put down his fork to see what the stranger wanted and immediately the figure vanished. The cleric could not believe a supernatural explanation and asked the maid indoors who had called: he was told that no one as far as she knew had been near the house. The cleric's wife reported too that she had on several occasions in the garden heard footsteps from the area of the Monk's Walk, and on one afternoon they were so clear that she assumed that it was her husband returning and went into the house to put the kettle on.


Perhaps one of the most interesting facts is that the friar has been seen in three different places in a space of two miles along the line of the ancient ridge trackway that leads from Buriton to East Meon and so on to Winchester. On this track too, some distance beyond the sighting by the churchwarden is a remote stile which is marked on some maps as Friar's Knapp. Unlike monks, who remained inside the monastery grounds, friars wandered from village to village on regular circuits like judges, finding hospitality where they could or else sleeping hungry under a hedge. Perhaps one brother, quite understandably, fell so much in love with the beauty of his round that he has been ambling gently along the crest of the downs and into the valleys for over four centuries. The Suicide Room At Red Lion Square: A Barrister's Terrifying Encounter With The Dead



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