Welwyn Hatfield's most haunted places

PUBLISHED: 18:06 28 October 2017

Eight Bells landlord Andy Parish in a corridor where footsteps are often heard in the pub below. Picture: Danny Loo

Eight Bells landlord Andy Parish in a corridor where footsteps are often heard in the pub below. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

As the clocks roll back and the mists descend, it's the time of year when everything starts to get a little bit eerie.

The Eight Bells pub. Picture: Danny LooThe Eight Bells pub. Picture: Danny Loo

Whether you believe in ghosts or you’re a paranormal sceptic, Halloween is on its way, and you’re sure to feel a chill reading about these local haunting rumours.

Ghostly girl’s footsteps at the Eight Bells, Old Hatfield

Andy Parish, the publican at the Eight Bells, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that several people have heard the pitter-patter of tiny footsteps in the corridor upstairs in the pub.

White Horse Lane in Datchworth, where sightings of a ghostly headless white horse have been reported. Photo: John BeareWhite Horse Lane in Datchworth, where sightings of a ghostly headless white horse have been reported. Photo: John Beare

He said: “We reckon it’s a little girl, as one fellow once saw her in old fashioned clothes coming down the small stairs that lead up to the toilets.”

But normally, she runs along the corridor, followed by the heavy tread of an adult - and then stops dead.

“Sometimes we’d run upstairs after hearing them walking around up there, thinking we had a burglar, but there would be nobody there,” said Andy.

Part of the pub used to be a butcher’s shop, and the rumour is that a little girl came to a grisly end at the hands of the butcher.


The White Horse landlord John Beare with a pint of Headless Horse Bitter standing on White Horse Lane. Picture: Danny LooThe White Horse landlord John Beare with a pint of Headless Horse Bitter standing on White Horse Lane. Picture: Danny Loo

Knebworth House’s “Yellow Boy”

As Knebworth House has stood since at least 1086, it’s had a lot of occupants - and according to family lore, not all of them living.

The Lytton family are said to have their own ghost in the Queen Elizabeth Room called the “yellow boy” or the “glowing boy”, whose sighting foretells an impending gruesome death.

Martha Lytton Cobbold, managing director of Knebworth House, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that unlike other members of the family, she has never personally seen any ghostly visions in the room - but her dogs may well have.

She said: “They would bark, and their fur would stand on end, and would look in great agitation at things I can’t see.

“It’s a very old property - it’s a very nice idea that one’s spirit might be able to go back and visit!”

If you’re in the Halloween mood, Knebworth’s Pumpkin Trail is sold out - but you can still look out for its ghost tours and bat walks if you dare.

Dame Barbara Cartland’s phantom pooch
Britain’s most beloved romantic novelist lived at Camfield Place, a beautiful Victorian mansion in Essendon.

Although she had the house blessed before she moved in, she didn’t avoid a haunting later when a cocker spaniel called Shane, belonging to her son, had to be put down.

After that, Dame Barbara said she would see him still sleeping in his favourite spots about the house, and at feeding time the other dogs would get scared and agitated, as though Shane was fighting them off his food.

Her son Ian McCorquodale told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “We were quite convinced that that was what was happening.

“My mother said she saw him several times.”

Thankfully, in 1961 she had the house blessed a second time, and Shane’s phantom was never seen again.

A headless horse in Datchworth

It’s not unusual for a pub to claim to have a ghost, but the White Horse in Datchworth must be the only one to be named after it.

Manager John Beare told the Welwyn Hatfield Times about a headless white horse that is said to canter up and down the lane outside.

It still gives him chills.
He said: “I don’t tend to go up and down that road because of the headless horse, and the locals avoid it.

“It gets particularly scary as there are no lights down there.

“It’s a creepy old lane with overhanging trees.”

But if you do manage to get down White Horse Lane without a fright, you can calm yourself down with a pint of the pub’s specially-named beer, the Headless Horse ale.

Table eight at the Plume of Feathers, Tewin

The Plume of Feathers is purportedly one of Hertfordshire’s most haunted pubs.

Rumours have it that a woman’s body from the 17th century was found behind a bricked-up fireplace, near to table eight.

Near that table, the ghostly figures of an old man and a cackling crone have been reportedly seen at different times, and the candle on the table has been known to re-light itself after being snuffed.

You might want to take care in the ladies’ loos, too, as visitors have reported cubicle doors opening and closing despite there being nobody else in there.

The runaway coach at Hatfield House
Hatfield House seems to be absolutely overrun with ghostly happenings, but its most spectacular is a phantom coach that is said to appear at the gates with four black horses and galloping right through the doors of the house, up the grand staircase, and disappearing.

Linda Stone, who runs the Hair of the Dog grooming salon at Hatfield House, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that some of her dogs definitely seem to sense spooky goings-on on their regular walks after dark.

Babushka, a sensitive Russian black terrier, gets visibly nervous whenever she heads through the woods and near the farm.

“She’s always looking behind her,” said Linda. “I do believe it’s haunted, but in a good way.”

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