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On The Haunting Of The Black Monk Of Pontefract | Blog | William Cody Winter .Com

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On The Haunting Of The Black Monk Of Pontefract

Most of us have heard of the Enfield Poltergeist or the Amityville Haunting, but did you know there was a case equally terrifying, to that of the Amityville Haunting a decade before?
In this post I take a look at what has now become known as The Haunting of the Black Monk of Pontefract.
Monk image
Most of us have heard of the Enfield Poltergeist and we have all heard of the Amityville Haunting, but did you know there was a case equally terrifying, to that of the Amityville Haunting a decade before?

The case to which I’m referring has become known as The Haunting Of The Black Monk Of Pontefract and is credited as Europe’s most violent poltergeist haunting. It began in 1966 in West Yorkshire, England. The family residing at Number 30 East Drive, on the Chequerfields Estate, were Jean and Joe Pritchard, 15-year-old son Philip and their daughter Diane, aged 12.

As a quick side-note, in 2012 this case was made into a movie by director Pat ­Holden (Jean’s nephew). The film is called ‘When the Lights Went Out’.

The first signs of a haunting would begin in August while most of the family were away on holiday, leaving Philip at home with his grandmother Sarah. Sarah noticed white powder falling from the ceiling and an unexplainable cold gust of air. At this point neither her nor her grandson were scared but rather confused, so she went across the road to fetch Philip’s aunt Marie. Marie decided to just clean it up and went into the kitchen to get a cloth and slipped in a puddle of water on the floor, that seemed to have no source.

A neighbour arrived who turned off the stop-cock, which made no difference, so a man from the Water Board was called out. Who after investigating and finding nothing wrong, simply put it down to “condensation”. Later that day after he left it stopped. You may think that that would be it for at least 24 hours, but no. At about 7 PM that evening Sarah heard her grandson shout from the kitchen “Grandma, it's happening again!”. Upon entering the kitchen, she found the work surface covered with sugar and dry tea leaves. The button on the tea dispenser also went in and out on its own, continuing to do so even when the dispenser was empty. In the end, Sarah had to shout "Stop it!” in an attempt to make it end, but when she did there was a loud bang from the hallway. She went to investigate only to find the hallway in darkness until the light was turned back on by itself.

Now with the light they were able to find out what had caused the bang, a plant that was normally at the foot of the stairs was now out of its pot halfway up the stairs. The pot itself was at the top on the landing. While investigating the pot in the hallway another noise began back in the kitchen. One of the kitchen cupboards was trembling as if there was someone on the inside trying to get out, Philip opened it up and the vibrating stopped, but a loud noise now began elsewhere in the house.

With a coolness in the air again, Sarah decided to fetch Marie. It was like the ghost wanted an audience, as with Marie in the house, not only did the cupboard shake again, but the contents could also be heard rattling. Marie went next door in an attempt at getting to the bottom of the goings on and asked the neighbours if they were responsible for the banging, only to be told by them "We thought it was you”. Clearly this had not been some kind of hallucinations as it had been heard next door as well.

Marie stayed with them chatting until around about 9:30 PM, when hoping it was over she returned home. However it had one more trick up its sleeve, as when Sarah went to Philip’s bedroom to wish him goodnight a large set of drawers begun to sway, after that they realised they could not safely stay the night, so they left and spent the night at neighbours. When the family returned home from their holiday the activity stopped and they didn’t think much of it. The home would remain peaceful for the next two years.

But it would start again, with a focus on the daughter Diane. If we are to believe that this is, in fact, a poltergeist (German for “noisy ghost&rdquoWinking and not a regular haunting (and I think it was a normal haunting, more on that later), then the young teenage girl being the target makes perfect sense. Most poltergeist hauntings tend to focus around a young girl (sometimes boy) going through puberty. It is believed by some that a poltergeist is a build-up of psychokinetic energy created inadvertently by a pubescent child, who is going through a traumatic or stressful time (or sometimes a very stressed adult). Poltergeists are very rarely if ever seen because they are not actually a ghost. Diane (now around 14) was often picked up and thrown out of bed, a very common activity in poltergeist cases. She was also reportedly dragged upstairs by her neck, this interestingly left lacerations.

Various objects flew around in the air and would disappear and reappear. The most frequent activity was loud banging and knocking noises, something that often occurs in poltergeist cases.
Attempts at exorcisms were not only unsuccessful but also seemed to exasperate the problem, resulting in upside down crosses being drawn on the walls after a friend used holy water in the house.

Very late into the haunting the ghost/poltergeist finally made a visual appearance. First seen in the parents bedroom by Joe and Jean, it was later seen by others including visitors. It was described as a hooded figure in a black cloak. It is now believed to be the spirit of a sixteenth-century monk who was executed for the rape and murder of a young girl during the time of King Henry VIII. It is also believed that the house is built next to the old gallows and this is why I believe that if this case is real at all then this was never a poltergeist, this was clearly a ghost. This would also explain why the activity was centred around the girl, not because of psychokinetic energy, but because he “liked” her. Not long after he started making himself seen, the haunting stopped for good.

When the Lights Went Out (2012, film):
Recent photos at 30 East Drive:
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