Knights Templar ghosts walk among Bristolians

Posted by Richard Rawlinson

I’ve just seen a Templar knight in Bristol, walking the streets in helmet, chain mail and white tunic with red cross. This is not uncommon in a city with a rich Templar history, reflected by the station name, Temple Mead, and a Weatherspoon pub called Knights Templar.

I’m not sure if he was a ghost or a man in fancy dress, just pretending to be a member of the monastic military order founded in the 12th century to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem. Paranormal Site Investigators (PSI) have reported many apparitions, especially at the HQ of Avon Fire and Rescue, built over a Knights Templar temple. Interestingly, the sightings are invariably accompanied by the sound of Gregorian chant.

Next year is the 700th anniversary of the death of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, who was burned at the stake on 18 March 1314 after the former darlings of Christendom had fallen from grace.

King Philip IV of France was the main catalyst for their downfall, torturing them into confessing heretical religious practices and the crime of finding sexual release with each other.

Philip’s motives were dubious. He was broke and the Order of Templars was rich. As well as being holy monks and crack soldiers, another dichotomy of the Templars was they were pioneering bankers, so talented at finance that the Order was richer than monarchs, who it then dutifully bankrolled. Philip owed the Order money but needed plenty more to fund his appetite for European wars. By persecuting the Templars, he could clear his debt, grab some booty, and, at the same time, strengthen France’s position by destroying the Vatican’s formidable army.

Some later historians have also had it in for the Templars, portraying them as a proto-Nazi ethnic extermination squad. But the Templars’ recorded mission was to protect pilgrims and the vulnerable, with no mandate in their book of 600 rules for ideological murder of people holding a different faith.

The Crusades was hardly a time of religious and cultural tolerance. Perhaps the Templars did overstep the mark by modern standards. Perhaps they did lose support in powerful places because they got too big for the boots.

But the ghosts down Bristol way are a chivalrous bunch.

Corpse roads – then and now

Back in the middle ages, established churches hung on to their right to bury the dead when new churches were built nearby to serve a growing population. Burial rights brought in revenue.

This meant that parishioners of churches without a right to bury their dead were compelled to take them to a church which did using designated corpse roads. Some were just a few miles in length, others much longer. 

These medieval corpse roads, so called, were pre-dated by long, straight tracks found all over the world along which the dead were carried and which were reckoned to channel the spirits of the dead.

All manner of superstitions attach to corpse roads, and if you want to find out lots more, quickly, you can’t do better than turn to Wikipedia, which has an excellent entry on the phenomenon. The tradition of toting a corpse feet first derives from these superstitions. It was supposed the prevent the spirit of the dead person from legging it back home. It would be interesting to conduct a poll of undertakers to discover how many actually know this. 

A quick google reveals just some of the corpse roads — also called coffin roads, lych ways, etc — which remain walkable: 

The Lych Way in Devon

Hindon to Enford (Wilts)

Teffont to Dinton (Wilts)

Bohenie to Achluachrach

Pass of Glencoe to Dalness

Ulverston to Coniston

Wasdale Head to Eskdale via Burnmoor

Mardale (Haweswater) to Shap via the Goggleby Stone

Rydal to Grasmere via Rydal Water and Dove Cottage

Arnside to Beetham via the Fairy Steps

Johnby to Greystoke

Garrigill to Kirkland

Borrowdale to Brigham

Bellever to Lydford (Devon)

Zennor St Ives (Cornwall)

Aston to Blockley and Stretton to Blockley (Warks, Gloucs)

We still have working corpse roads, of course; we just don’t call them that. We call them the ring road or the bypass. 

One of you dyed-in-the-wool deathies out there ought to compile a gazetteer of corpse roads so that fellow-deathies everywhere can catch some fresh air and keep the memory alive. 

Spooky spoilsport

As Sean Eddleston lay dying he told his partner, Sharon Grant, that he wanted her never to date anyone else. Since then, his ghost has frightened off every one of her suitors. The Sun newspaper takes up the story:

Five years since Sean’s death, Sharon, now 44, claims to have had three relationships dashed by her ex appearing from beyond the grave to give her fellas the frights of their lives.

She says he PULLED the hair of one lover, PINNED her to the bed so she couldn’t get up and answer the door to the same fella — and even APPEARED next to him on the sofa.

Sharon is now coming to terms with the fact Sean may always interfere in her relationships.

She says: “A friend of mine told me to get my place exorcised but I’m not sure I want to. Although Sean has been a pain, I do like having him around. A part of him is still here and I find that comforting.

“Some nights I’ll sit down on my own in the front room and chat to him. I know he’s there, I can feel his presence. I was never interested in ghosts and ghouls before Sean died and had no opinion on whether they existed. Now I know they do.

“I tell Sean I need that physical relationship with another man but it doesn’t mean I don’t still love him. I can be there for hours just chatting. I only hope Sean is listening.

“But he needs to let me get on with my life.”

Full story in The Sun here

Spectral sphere sheds factory terror

CCTV at SMP Large Format, Ashford, Kent, captured this terrifying spectral orb moseying around one of the offices. It has left the workforce shaking.

“The boys in the factory feel there is something there or watching them. You know when you get the feeling you are not alone?

“We have not seen the orb or glow again since, but a couple of them have said they have noticed their tools being moved.

“One of them even got trapped after a really heavy piece of kit somehow moved to block a door, again when no one else was around.”

Full story in the Sun here