Things that go bump in the night

RATIONALISTS beware, Chingford is one of the most haunted places in the country and a ghost may patrol a home or hotel near you.

Disembodied footsteps, a mysterious man on horseback and the ghost of a woman killed in a hotel fire at the beginning of the last century are among the phantoms inhabiting the cemeteries, byways and hostels of the area.

The Guardian has taken a number of calls recently from people claiming to have "heard" things and felt "strange" in the vicinity of Chingford Mount Cemetery.

We contacted local paranormal experts Eerie Investigations, who confirmed the burial site's spectral reputation.

Ian Pleasance, an investigator with Eerie, said: "The cemetery is known for being haunted and many people have reported sounds of footsteps walking on the grass behind them, even though there was no-one present.

"It is also rumoured that the ghost of a man dressed all in black on horseback gallops along the roads between the graves, dismounting occasionally. Some people believe he is the spirit of an old huntsman."

Five years ago the Guardian reported on former local woman Mavis Fisher's efforts to find out more about the ghostly apparitions in Friday Hill House, Simmons Lane, that haunted her childhood.

Ms Fisher claimed a Stan Laurel lookalike, dressed in Edwardian costume and a bowler hat, and a weeping woman in a flowing white veil inhabited the old building.

Since then unearthly goings on have been documented in a number of places around Chingford. Residents regularly call the Chingford-based ghostbusters to relate their experiences.

Mr Pleasance said: "The area around Richmond Avenue and The Avenue in Highams Park used to be orchard land and there have been stories of ghosts being seen.

"One person told us that on New Year's Eve she was walking along there and saw what appeared to be a highwayman riding across the road in front of her. She was very frightened by this and immediately ran back to the safety of her family."

Another famous haunting is the ghost of Mary at the Royal Forest Hotel in Rangers Road.

Mary died in a fire there in 1912 and when the hotel was rebuilt she returned and can sometimes be seen sitting on a bed in the upper parts of the building.

Karley-Ann Osbourn, a duty manager at the hotel and expert on their resident ghost, said: "Mary was trapped on the fourth floor when the hotel burnt down, and that floor was never rebuilt.

"Many staff have seen her in the past and one worker was so scared they left because of the ghost, but that was before I came. A lot of staff do feel uncomfortable staying here late at night."

Anyone who has a paranormal experience they would like to share can call Eerie Investigations on 8531 9443 or contact ian@eerieinvestigations.com

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