Saint Augustine's Avenue, Chesterfield (Burning smells and grey mist)
Around 1970, Mr Dennis Fearn, his wife Mary and grown-up sons Joseph and Brian lived at Saint Augustine’s Avenue. In their home, the family experienced mysterious burning smells, sudden chills, an eerie grey mist and scratching noises in a bedroom.
If there was a spirit presence, it would seem that it may not necessarily have left the house, as investigator Mark Vernon investigated continuing phenomena at the house in 2017 and filmed what he claimed to be a ghost manifesting.
Derbyshire Times, 1970; Eyre, 2016; McVay, 2017.
Saint Augustine's Avenue, Chesterfield (Tobacco smell and apparition)
In the 1970s, a resident of a house on Saint Augustine's Avenue used to be able to smell tobacco and, on several occasions, saw her husband's late father sitting in the arm chair.
It is curious that several houses in this area had strange phenomena (see 'Saint Augustine's Avenue (Burning smells and grey mist)' above and 'Saint Augustine's Road' below..
Saint Augustine’s Road, Chesterfield
A resident of Saint Augustine’s Road by the name of Mrs Newman claimed that a spirit entity had attached itself to her, i.e. that it frequently clung to her body and caused her injuries.
During the 1990s and early into the 2000s, Mrs Newman was troubled by a sensation which she interpreted as being a spirit trying to possess her, which wrapped itself around her head, back and legs and caused her to fall and injure herself. She claimed that this had resulted in a number of arm and leg fractures and that the alleged spirit had also produced burns on her legs.
The case was investigated in 2001 by the author and Kevin Parkin, on behalf of ASSAP. Mrs Newman showed the investigators her legs and they were very red and burnt looking. She said that her face was also burned once.
She claimed on occasion to have seen entities in her house and to have heard a spirit screaming and shouting.
Many other families had only stayed in the house for a short time because of the troublesome phenomena.
Saint Mary's Catholic High School, Chesterfield
Many phenomena have been reported at Saint Mary's School and are still occurring (as at 2017), as follows:-
- strange banging and vibrating desks, when no one is sitting at them
- a piano heard on a first floor corridor, despite there being no pianos in or near that block
- kettles turning themselves on when the observer is alone
- odd noises in an upstairs corridor, including scratching and banging
- a man seen by cleaners late at night, on an upstairs corridor.
- the feeling of a presence in one classroom
- the caretaker, locking up one block on a warm, summer's evening felt a sudden chill and the hairs on his back stood up
- a cleaner stopped working in a block after feeling uncomfortable
- doors opening and slamming unaided, including, in the case of store room doors, being witnessed by a teacher, alone in a block one night
- an oppressive atmosphere around the changing rooms and a store room off the gym
- a man who suddenly vanished on the downstairs corridor, witnessed late on by a cleaner
- a horrible atmosphere in an upstairs toilet, giving the experiencer the shivers upon opening the door - a sensation which lasts for five minutes, even when the experiencer leaves the block
- a young girl who looked out of place in relation to the other pupils was seen in a car park and a few days later, a teacher, whilst reversing his car in the car park, heard the sensor go off, only to get out and discover that there was nothing there except the tarmac, then the lawn, i.e. there was no obstructions to account for the sensor reacting!
- a staff member hearing a group of pupils in a classroom when there was no one else around
- while a pupil and teacher were working in one tutorial room, they heard something being knocked over, the sound or someone moving about, a swivel chair moving about and the filing cabinet opening and closing in the adjacent tutorial room, despite that room being locked with the light off
- a teacher, upon walking into one room to take a class and closing the door behind her, experienced the door then fully opening, causing her to look into the corridor to see who had opened it but the corridor was silent and empty and there was no wind blowing through
- in the sports hall cleaners have experienced lights turning on and off by themselves and one cleaner heard a loud cough when she was on her own and also a little girl giggle inside her ear.
In the 1940s, it appears that on the site of the school, there were some nissen huts housing soldiers, who were alleged to have played about with a ouija board. In the 1950s and 60s, local residents used to come and take part in séances in a barn at these premises. This practice continued until two Crimean soldiers were summoned, who took to standing on an embankment near where one of the car parks now is, whenever a séance was going on. This alarmed many people and so a stop was put to the séances and eventually the barn was demolished.
Saint Cross, Ridgeway
Saint Cross at Ridgeway is a house which was originally built in the form of a cross. Its early history has a tentative link with monks but the present house was probably built in the 1820s. Between 1934 and the 1980s, the house was owned by Sir John and Lady Margaret Renwick. Underneath the dining room is the monks’ kitchen and storeroom: the Renwicks’ dog sensed something untoward there and refused to go down there.
A well-known cricketer once stayed in the spare oldest bedroom and was hardly able to sleep a wink, so convinced was he that the room was haunted.
There is a legend that many years ago a ghostly coach and horses would travel down the drive.
In November 1958 Mr John McGoary, an Irishman working at the Shirebrook Colliery, saw a ghost and fainted. Mr McGoary stated that the vision looked like Wilfred Hales. Another miner by the name of Mr Keith Plant also saw this ghost and, again, identified it as being the same person, who had died in 1950. Management perceived the productivity of the mine to be affected by the presence of this ghost.
Daniel, 1974; Pearson, 1984.
One night in October 1867, the ghost of a man was seen by the miners at the coal face of Shirland Colliery, frightening them to the extent that they immediately left their work.
Slack Lane, North Wingfield
The ghost of a nun wearing spectacles has been seen by more than one witness on Slack Lane. She seemed to be floating, rather than walking, and would then dissolve away. There used to be a convent nearby.
Somerset House, Calow
Poltergeist phenomena, such as doors which lock and bolt themselves and lights refusing to come on, despite there being no electrical fault, have occurred at Somerset House since it became a public house. It is suggested that the phenomena may be caused by the spirit of a young girl who was accidentally fatally shot in an adjoining barn in the days when Somerset House was a farm.
Pearson, 1984; Brindle, 2011; Eyre, 2016.
Spencer Street, Newbold
For 18 out of 27 nights in a period stretching from November to December 1936, loud knocking and mysterious thudding, which could not be explained in normal terms, and which seemed to come from underground, occurred in Spencer Street.
Prior to the existing gatehouse at Spital Cemetery, there was a three storied house used Page & Co as a threadmill. The house was occupied by the Manager, Mr J Marriott, and the caretaker. The building was reputed to be haunted and became known as ‘Boggart House’. It was said that there was a ghost of a cowled figure with horribly distorted features, which used to be seen in Spital Lane, near the hospital.
Round about October 1863, there was a report of a Staveley inhabitant who lived near The Crown Inn having gone on a spree in Chesterfield and having been murdered. His wife visited Chesterfield to arrange the funeral, whereupon she encountered not so much her husband’s ghost as his actual self.
An inquest was held over the supposed corpse and the jury returned a verdict against the man of ‘sudden reformation’.
Staveley Netherthorpe School
Stories of ghostly activity in and around the Headmaster’s house of Staveley Netherthorpe School have persisted over generations.
Derbyshire Times, 1996; Eyre, 2016.
Stuart Bradley’s Jewellery Shop, Steeple Gate, Chesterfield
In the jewellery repair shop at the top of the building, tools have been moved into different positions overnight, despite the building being locked. Objects have inexplicably fallen off shelves in the window to the left of the door.
When the building was previously used as a shoe shop, staff arriving for work one morning saw a shoe levitating above a shelf in that window.
Sun Inn, West Bars, Chesterfield
Phenomena such as the sound of unexplained footsteps go back a long way in time at the Sun Inn. The happenings were linked with the legend of a ghostly coachman, who, in the mid 18th century, had been murdered for his money and whose body had been thrown down one of two wells in the pub’s basement. The pub was later rebuilt.
Several customers and one former landlady saw the figure of a woman on the stairs. After one family party, the occupants of the lounge saw a strange woman glide through the room.
In the 1950s, one landlord heard music coming from the cellar, the door of which had been opened. No dogs would go near the cellar door, many people witnessed objects being moved on their own and doors opening and closing on their own and the sheets on his daughter’s bed were pulled off.
At around midnight during November 1957, the landlord at the time, Mr Vincent Holmes, found crates of beer smashed and barrels moved out of place in the cellar, even though the door had been locked all night. Having restacked some of them, he heard a commotion and found the crates which had not been restacked in even greater disorder, all over the floor.
Every so often, between the late 1950s and the 1980s, the valve handles of the beer kegs were periodically turned off, despite quite a bit of strength being needed to achieve this.
White, 1960; Daniel, 1974; Pearson, 1984, 1986; Brindle, 2011.
Sutton Scarsdale Hall
Numerous phenomena are associated with Sutton Scarsdale Hall. They include
- the phantom fragrance of tobacco which is smelled in several parts of the ruined building
- coloured lights, which appear, then hover for several seconds before vanishing
- a disembodied arm that beckons the observer towards the cellar area
- phantom footsteps and voices
- ghosts being seen in the ruins, including that of Sir Nicholas Leke in the porchway of the adjacent churchyard.
- the image of horse-drawn, old-fashioned coaches proceeding through the grounds.
During the latter half of the 1960s a Bolsover man reported seeing a ghostly apparition early in the morning moving between the adjacent St Mary’s Church and the hall. The ‘white lady’ was seen gliding through the churchyard without legs, wearing a white hood with slits for eyes and crying.
Several local paranormal investigation groups have spent time there during the early 2000s, for the purpose of investigating. Some of these visits resulted in further phenomena being experienced or further information being obtained from witnesses encountered at the premises.
Upon visiting the site in the early 2000s for the purposes of making a Radio Derby broadcast, Richard Felix and the radio crew were unable to obtain either a radio signal or a mobile phone signal to contact the radio station, despite signals working perfectly normally in the surrounding area.
For details of a strange tradition relating to Sutton Scarsdale Hall, see 'Dole of Loves'.
Pearson, 1984; Anthony, 1997; Armitage, 2005, 2009; Brindle, 2011; Eyre, 2016.
Sutton Spring Wood, Chesterfield
A number of people living in Sutton Spring Wood have seen the spectre of a monk there. The image wears a conventional habit but is recognisable by the fact that he wears a golden cross. The image has been seen walking along and then disappearing through a hedge or disappearing when approached.
Daniel, 1974; Pearson, 1984.