Murderous monks at the Priory
Date 15/11/2003 | Topic: Locations
| MOST people have heard of the nature reserve at Wicken Fen, but not everyone knows that just a few miles away stands one of Cambridgeshire's most haunted houses.|
These days Spinney Abbey is a peaceful working farm where Robert and Valerie Fuller make a living from bed and breakfast and a large dairy herd.
But 600 years ago a horrible crime was committed on the site, which was then an Augustinian priory known as the Priory of Saint Mary and the Holy Cross - and it appears to have left its mark.
On Sunday, May 12, 1403, the Prior, William Gilbert, was murdered by three monks - William Hall, John Lode and Thomas Smyth - who viciously stabbed him to death.
Two months later the trio were found guilty of murder at Cambridge Castle. However, the church intervened and the men disappeared.
During building work in the 1930s, the skeletons of three men were discovered face down, a practice not in keeping with a normal Christian burial and something archaeologists believe suggests they could be criminals. At the time the house belonged to Mr Fuller's grandfather, also called Robert.
Soon after the discovery, the Fuller family started to notice some very strange goings on.
They were sitting down to Sunday lunch one day when Robert Fuller senior and his son Thomas became aware of the sound of monks singing in Latin. Everyone heard it, but despite searching could not find anything.
"It was very faint at first and got louder and seemed to be on a different level," said Mr Fuller. "It was like a procession. My grandfather could hear it outside, then it faded away just as it came."
On another occasion Thomas was looking out of his bedroom window when he saw a hooded monk gliding along a path in the garden. At the end of the path, suddenly the monk vanished into thin air.
Mr Fuller said he has never seen anything, but he did hear some strange music in the 1980s.
"My wife went out into the farmyard to see if there was a radio on somewhere, but there wasn't," he said. "We couldn't explain it."
So who was it? The ghost of the murdered Prior? Or one of the murderers perhaps?
Clearly, the Fuller family are not alone on their isolated fenland farm
Published on 15 September 2003 Cambridge News.