Canewdon Ghosts

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Church On Hilltop, Canewdon, United Kingdom

Canewdon Ghosts Reviews

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6 reviews
Canewdon Ghosts And Ghouls. Mar 12, 2008
Now dont get me wrong, I'am a keen ghost hunter. I mean I look for ghosts at haunted locations but it is not to the point of mental illness. Canewdon supposedly has many ghosts and myths centralized around the church. I wrote an article a few months ago about Canewdon so I thought it would be a good idea to repost it here:


Canewdon is perhaps one of the most well known paranormal sites in Essex, or at least in the Southend-on-sea area. There are many different stories and myths that surround the St.Nicolas church which sits upon a hill overlooking the Rochford hundred and river crouch, some perhaps with some historical evidence, others however diluted to the point of ridiculous.

The main myth that surrounds the entire village is that it will always have 6 (or 9 depending on the story teller) witches, and that every time a stone from the church tower falls a witch will die and another will take his or her place. This may seem a big claim to make, but to understand how this myth first took root you have to take into account the people who lived in the area a mere 150 – 200 years ago, and I will go into this in more detail later on.

Another myth which unfortunately damages the villages otherwise quiet existence is that according to legend, if you run around the church at midnight, on Halloween, backwards (although this is more likely to be a mistranslation of mislead version of anti-clockwise) you will either see a Ghost, go back in time or come face to face with the Devil and be sucked into Hell. Apart from this there are hundreds of reported shades, orbs and seemingly invisible physical contact with ghosts.

These stories seem very far fetched, but that still doesn’t stop a barrage of visitors every week to the church. In fact in the past the police have had to place blockades on the church road to stop any would be ghost hunters or witches doing anything strange on Halloween. Despite the somewhat stretched myths, there still maybe a lot of hidden history behind all of these stories, something I hope I can assist anyone interested to find.

To understand why there are so many stories about witches in Canewdon, we must first take into account the culture and the people who lived there. Until the early 20th century when transport became more available to the predominant farm labor, the community of Canewdon would have been shut off from the rest of England. There would have been no traffic coming through, very rarely would there ever be visitors, so its easy to imagine that the old wives tales and myths would have still been securely attached to the villagers.

Having said that, the existence of witches living in Canewdon is an absolute definite, there is so much evidence for it that it doesn’t require any imagination. The myth about there always been 6 (or 9) witches in Canewdon comes from a man who lived in Hadleigh in Essex (now about a 15 minute drive from Canewdon.) The man was a renowned local healer and man of wisdom, James ‘Cunning’ Murrell. This man was a sort of local hero, a Christian witch doctor if a simple explanation is required. This only proves that there were still very open minded, pagan beliefs even during the mid 1800’s.

The name that you will eventually stumble upon if you research into Canewdon for longer that ten minutes is that of a George Pickingill (sometimes written Pickingale.) ‘Ol George’ as he was sometimes refered as was a locally feared ‘cunning man’. He was born 1816 and died 1909 in Canewdon, but during his life, (as its debated) he led the way for new-age and neo-pagan religions all over the globe. Pickingill began a coven of witches in Canewdon, performing rituals inside the church grounds. These rituals were done as closely to the ‘old ways’ as possible and often included naked, or sexual acts. These at the time would have frightened the superstitious villagers, allowing him and his group to continue on. Its often recorded that George could stop farm machinery and black mail locals into buying him drinks, it is more likely however that he threatened to stop machinery. Other than the group in Canewdon, he also created another 8 covens all over the UK. People who attended these groups eventually formed the Golden Dawn, a well known early 20th century pagan/occult circle, in which both either directly or indirectly, Aleister Crowley, and Gerald Gardner (who fathered the relatively new Wicca movement) were influenced.

Its fair to say then that Canewdon, historically has a lot of links with neo-paganism, and occultists, perhaps making Canewdon the Bethlehem of the new age movement.

So what about the ghost stories? Even now people looking for answers into the paranormal report phantoms, moving cars and strange noises. Its easy to research history, but as for the alledged ghost sightings, there has yet to be any true evidence to support or debunk it, something which we hope to one day solve.


Well thats the general gyst anyway. If your looking for ghosts its worth a look, but dont count on anything. In the area there is also a few pubs and a shop that shuts quite early. Apart from that theres not much there to be honest.
Haunted Or Not? Certainly not in t…
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