Great Missenden is one of the most haunted locations in my home county of Buckinghamshire, England. Built in 1133, Missenden Abbey was home to Augustinian monks who were originally focused on holiness, poverty and prayer.
Over the years, they gained a taste for luxury, loose living and immoral behaviour. Earthly pleasures replaced Godly endeavours, and that’s when the hauntings began. Strange sounds and ethereal figures started to appear.
With the bad behaviour, the Abbey’s reputation started to deteriorate, so nuns at the nearby convent attempted to correct their behaviour, but it resulted in one young novice monk being caught in a compromising position with a nun.
He was so afraid of the consequences that he cut his own throat and has allegedly haunted the old convent building ever since. Ghostly echoes of his death were reported by the occupants in the 1970s when it was a hotel. This ghostly monk of Missenden has been dubbed ‘The Black Monk’.
Unexplained phenomena at the Abbey include a floating lady, a vase being thrown down the stairs by an unseen being, a broken ashtray, eerie wailings, and unexplained footprints in the snow.
Ghosts in the meadows
The Black Monk is said to wander across the meadows beside the Abbey grounds. He carries a staff or sword and has sometimes been spotted heading towards the ancient Church of St Peter and St Paul, which dates back to the 1300s.
In 1985, a fire devastated the inside of the Abbey leaving nothing but a shell.
Reports of ghostly sightings have been fewer since the fire, and it begs the question if the haunting memories of the past were burnt to the ground with the rubble. Here’s a photo of the inside of the Abbey today.
The Abbey was restored and reopened in 1988. Today it’s a conference centre and sometimes runs adult education courses.
The old convent
The old convent building is now a hospital, but in the 1970s it was a hotel. It was early in the morning on 18 September 1972 when the caretaker, Mr Allison, was repairing a window on the staircase landing.
A gentleman in a dark hooded cloak climbed the mezzanine stairs and Mr Allison greeted him with “Good Morning”. The cloaked figure did not reply, but continued to climb the stairs with his hands clasped as if in prayer.
It was odd because the gentleman never came down again, and after a while, the caretaker went to investigate because the doors at the top of the stairs all led to staff rooms which were locked except for the toilet.
It seems this mysterious figure had vanished into thin air! When Mr Allison reported the disappearance to the Assistant Manageress, Mrs. Potten, she was convinced that it was the spirit of the Black Monk.
According to legend, if you sleep in a particular room of the gatehouse on Twelfth Night, you may experience a spiritual presence followed by the sensation of thumb screws being painfully applied.
Fortunately, the hospital that occupies the site today doesn’t keep patients in the gatehouse… as far as I know!
Today the Abbey is used for meetings, workshops and weddings. The website says: "Choose Missenden Abbey for a stunning backdrop for your wedding celebrations. With vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and a beautifully dressed marquee, the perfect wedding venue to ensure you have the most amazing unforgettable day."
Visit the website at www.missendenabbey.co.uk
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