St Mary’s Church, Clophill, Milton Keynes
St Marys Church (sometimes referred to as Clophill church) can be found lurking just outside the small village of Clophill which lies between Bedford and Luton, just off the A6. The church is small but it seems to have acquired a rather large reputation over the years. The building is estimated to be about 400 years old and was left to rot after another church was built in the village centre. At one time, St Marys used to contain some interesting bits and pieces such as memorial tablets dedicated to the various Reverends who served the church, and the register apparently dated back to 1568.
These days St Marys is no longer considered consecrated ground and the responsibility for the old church now lies with Central Bedfordshire Council, who I am sure are quite horrified with the fact that the church has become a magnet for the paranormally curious, some of whom employ nothing but the very best ghost hunting techniques:
The churchyard contains graves that go back to the 1700s but some headstones have been worn smooth by the elements and are indecipherable.
Local folklore has some ideas to offer as to why the old church was abandoned. Some say the church was built the wrong way around, facing away from God (how do they know which way God is looking?) thus making the church more suited to the devil instead. Another rumour is the church was built on top of a leper hospital. In reality, it would be more sensible to assume that the new church in Clophill was built because the villagers fancied a more convenient place of worship, what with the old church being a fair trot from the village and on top of a hill. Sod that on a Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, St Marys hasn’t been left to enjoy the peace and quiet that such a historical building deserves. In 1963 vandals decided it would be fun to desecrate some of the old tombs in the churchyard, one of which belonged to Jenny Humberstone, a 22 year old apothecary’s wife who died in 1770. Jenny’s bones are said to have been found inside the church, ritualistically laid out in a circle and cockerel feathers were also found close by. Jenny’s bones were reinterred but sadly the graveyard was raided again in 1969 and also in 1975. Whether these raids were just mindless vandalism or attempts at necromancy is unclear.
People have reported an oppressive atmosphere at St Marys and the air inside the ruin feels chilly, even on a warm day. Visitors have seen a faint light travelling up the hill towards the old church but the light then disappears without a trace. Locals also say that the site is haunted by a ghost called ‘Sophie’ and a she may even have been caught on camera. A visitor and his wife managed to photograph a figure in white looking down from one of the church windows but the strange thing was the window was nearly two meters above the floor of the nave.
Interestingly, there are stories of paranormal investigators using projections of a ghostly monk to put thrill seekers off visiting the ruins. Creating fake ghosts seems a strange thing for serious paranormal investigators to do but hey ho…
©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2010