From an article in the Bromley Extra by Natasha Griffiths
Halloween is upon us again and there are plenty of spooky goings on in the Borough of Bromley. Bromley Extra’s Jody Pla and Natasha Griffiths found two mediums and went on a ghost hunt in the famously haunted Chislehurst Caves.
Spiritualists Val Hood and Karen Ford preferred not to be told of the history of Chislehurst Caves.
But as Jody and I gingerly trod the worn passage ways we hoped some of the resident spooks would appear for our guests. The caves were used for mining chalk and flint hundreds of years ago but it is thought they have been in existence for many years more. The underground labyrinth covers an area of up to 20 miles and its dark and damp atmosphere makes it an ideal location for any ghost.
People have heard the sounds of children laughing and playing and many apparitions have been seen dashing amongst the tunnels. Legend tells that two centuries ago a lady was brutally murdered by her husband in the caves. He hit his wife about the head and weighed the unconscious woman down in the pool with large blocks of chalk. Years later her bones were discovered at the bottom of the pool and since then a supernatural presence has been seen glowing where her bones were found.
We were left alone at the bottom of the caves but there were enough lanterns to light the way ahead. Val could sense a young lady wearing a white flowing dress at the edge of the pool who was very distressed. Val sat by the pool and explained she felt the woman was aged about 20 years old and came from a big well to do family. She said the name sounded like Hawksworth and she believed she was married to one of the most powerful men in Kent but her heart was with another man. The love affair upset her family and she would walk the caves to get away from it all and it was here her husband found her and in a rage killed her.
Just down from the pool Val and Karen sensed hoards of frightened people running through the tunnels and heard agitated voices. As Val walked through one of the chambers her legs gave way from underneath as she sensed a man with musket wounds to his chest.
Mediums often take on the physical sufferings of people who have died and she could sense his pain. She had an uncanny knowledge the caves were used as escape tunnels during the conflicts between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers in the English Civil War. Apparently there was a secret entrance though a nearby church. The man was crawling across the floor to escape to safety but didn’t make it and died at the spot where he rested at a ledge carved into the cave.
Val and Karen also sensed a monk dressed in a habit wondering around the tunnels. They sensed the passageway was lined with injured people and Karen picked up on a man who had died from severe head injuries from an accident in the mine. As she felt around for cold spots she became aware of a man in charge of this part of the mine. She said she felt that he wasn’t very nice to the workers but above ground he was a respected family man. She said she believed he died at his home of a stomach complaint but haunted the caves because he was angry because the tunnels had changed and entrances were blocked.
An old gypsy lady wearing scarves wrapped around her head and body stopped to tell Karen she lived in the caves with members of her family and the tour guide, Paul Andrews later informed us there was a gypsy family who set up a tent in the caves during the Second World War. However the gypsies were forced to move out because of other families who stayed to shelter from the German bombs. They were killed weeks later and sightings of the old lady have been seen every since.
There was a very eerie presence close by in another chamber and Val seemed to think there was something more sinister – she informed me lots of murders have taken place in the caves over the centuries. She said: “the caves were not always a sad place there are a lot of happy memories from people who stayed here through the Second World War”. Karen chased a little girl running around the maze of tunnels and told me she was a 6 year old by the name of Kirsty. Apparently there was a big celebration with members of her family and she went racing around the tunnels with her brother when she bumped her head and died.
All the ghosts featured in this ghost story are harmless and Val maintains: “It’s not the dead you’ve got to worry about – it’s the living. The spirits just want to be acknowledged”.