(By Beth Robinson for Kent Online)
It has been some time since there were any reported sightings of the legendary Grey Lady.
According to local folklore, her ghostly form has haunted Oxney Bottom at Ringwould near Deal for many decades and there aren’t many people in the district who don’t know of someone (who knows of someone) who has seen her.
Now 17-year-old Ellise Begg thinks she could have been in the company of the mysterious spirit – and she think’s she captured her on camera – during a recent walk around the wooded area that also encompasses Freedown Woods.
She said: “My cousin and I were talking about haunted places and we decided to go to Oxney Bottom.
“I got a picture because the way the light shone through an arch in the trees was pretty”.
The smartphone image she took shows a streak of light to the right, which when magnified, shows what looks like a woman’s face and a veil of long hair.
She added: “It wasn’t until we got home that my other cousin Lucy pointed it out.
“I don’t think it’s a trick of the light. I’m a photographer and I know a trick of the light when I see one.”
Miss Begg said the pair didn’t see anything unusual, nor did they get a supernatural sense when on their stroll, but she is convinced her camera picked up the apparition in the way that spiritualists think orbs in photographs are spirits.
Critics may determine that orbs are merely specks of dust picked up on camera, which Mercury photographer Tony Flashman attributes as the cause.
He said: “While I have to agree the image does seem to depict an apparition of some description my thoughts are of a less spiritual nature.
“Was the phone in a case? I sometimes get a similar reflection if my phone case covers a very small part of the lens or perhaps a small piece of fluff on the side of the lens.
“Occasionally light can reflect across the lens giving strange reflections.
“I also seem to notice another anomoly on the other side of the picture, albeit greener in colour.
“Then again I could be totally wrong and it truly is photographic evidence of The Grey Lady.”
Former Pfizer scientist Wendy Sartain of Deal Spiritualist Church Centre agrees dust, fluff or reflections can be responsible but she believes cameras can pick up the energy of a spirit.
She said: “You always have to question everything and you shouldn’t be gullible. Look for the obvious before settling on a spiritual explanation.
“Once you’ve put to one side any physical things like dust or moisture then it may be an orb.
“When we die, we lose our physical bodies and we are then just energy.
“Science tells us that energy can be changed, but it can never be destroyed. Orbs are just condensed energy floating around.”
To differentiate between a spirit and a ghost, Mrs Sartain added: “A spirit would not be using her energy to reform herself and would not be going around looking like she did when she was here. She would only reform for our purposes, for recognition – to make herself visible to you.
“For a spirit to make itself visible it must lower its vibration so that the energy of the orb lowers and slows.
“The difference between a spirit and a ghost is that a spirit is the energy, a ghost is the memory of something that happened to someone and is being held in the fabric of the building or on the land, which is why quite often on battle sites or castles when a drummer boy is walking around with his head under his arm. That’s not the spirit or the spirit’s energy, it’s a memory being replayed.
“So the grey Lady could be energy that is trapped in that area but probably it’s a memory of something that happened to her that’s being replayed.”
Locally the origins of the Grey Lady tale are unclear. Some say she was killed in an accident, others claim she had her heart broken and haunts the area where her lover resided. Another school of thought is that her body was interred at the Chapel’s grave yard while some say the area, which was once a village of its own, experienced mass deaths from the plague between 1665-1666.
On the website eerieplaces.com she is described as “hobbling along, scaring drivers half to death. In some cases she is actually blamed for causing accidents.”
The passage adds: “In 1967 is was claimed that the ghostly grey lady boarded a double decker bus and made her way upstairs to the top deck.
“The bus’s conductress followed her to collect the fare but when she reached the top deck it was completely empty.
“This freaked the conductress out as the bus hadn’t stopped to let anybody off.”
More claimed sightings on yourcounty.co.uk include one from a user called Maria Rose who said: “The day was bright and sunny but inside that wood was dark and lifeless, no birds were singing, it was as if time stood still. We found an old ruin which had steps leading into a cellar or something. All of a sudden a stick came hurtling out of nowhere with a power and force that was beyond the word strong. It landed with an intended precision on the ground in the earth right in the midst of us. It was almost as if something was saying I could kill you if I wanted to, now get out and get out quick.
“Needless to say we ran at the speed of light towards what we thought was the cornfields we had come through. It seemed like ages but we got out. I was 14 at the time, am 48 now and that memory will stay with me forever. Whatever it was, was real and evil.”
Another account from a user called Sally describes a trip there on horseback where both the horse and springer spaniel behaved oddly and she experienced a “sinister atmosphere”.
On another walk there the lively dog, who usually ran ahead of her, stayed as close to her as possible and walked with his tail in between his legs.
She said they were sitting in the Chapel’s grave yard when: “The dog was still pressed close to my knee. Then, quite suddenly he began to growl and his hackles were up again.
“I sensed a change in the atmosphere around me. It suddenly seemed very cold and the few sounds there seemed different, louder, and yet seeming to come from a great distance and somehow menacing.”
According to eerieplaces.com there are three grey lady ghosts of Kent.
In addition to the Oxney specter, there is the Grey Lady of Cleve Court in Manston, Thanet, and another in Ightham Moat near Sevenoaks.
- Our reporter and her accomplice went on a midnight stroll around the area. They reported no sightings – and nothing went bump in the night.