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Called the most haunted village in England, Prestbury can be found just near the edge of Costwolds. There are reportedly more than a dozen ghosts who haunt the area.
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Prestbury means “Priests fortified place” from the Anglo-Saxon words preost meaning priest and burh meaning a fortified manor. The village has been mentioned as Preosdabyrig in 899-904. It also has an appearance on the Doomsday Book of 1086.
During the 18th and 19th century, Prestbury was a very popular resort for people visiting Cheltenham. The Grotto Tea Gardens, a resort with a summerhouse offered guests a fine place for drinking tea and for having dinner.
Prestbury has a distinctive look which is unmatched by other villages in the area. Its walls coloured with soft honey, timber framed buildings and Cotswold or thatched stone tiled roofs lend it a unique look. The village is surrounded by the Cleve Hill, a place which offers stunning views of Cheltenham.
The most famous ghost in Prestbury is the Black Abbot. The Black Abbot is regularly seen in the church and in the churchyard. He is most often seen during Christmas and Easter and treads the same path every time. He materializes just before crossing the churchyard and then disappears through the wall on High Street. He used to walk the aisle in St. Mary’s Church but after it was exorcised, he would only appear in the Churchyard.
Another famous ghost is the charging horseman. He has been appearing riding his white horse especially at Easter and Christmas. He would gallop his way through the Shaw Green Lane and the Burgage. He was rumoured to have been killed by a Lancastrian arrow on May 4, 1471 while on his way to the Edward IV camp during the War of the Roses. It was said that early in the 20th century a skeleton with an arrowhead was found in the area. To this day, people think that it was the horseman.
Another ghostly horseman is the Headless Horseman. He rides through Mill Street and according to local legends; he was a royal dispatch rider who was on his way from Sudeley Castle to Gloucester. He was knocked off the horse by thin wire. He was executed by beheading after interrogation of The Roundheads of Prestbury.
The Sundial Cottage is haunted by a young girl who loves to play the spinet. She has been seen on numerous occasions and her music has been heard by a family during World War II when they took refuge in the cottage. At the Plough Inn, sounds of horse’s hooves can be heard and herdsmen have had difficulty getting their sheep, dogs and horses past the inn.
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