Is Pluckley Still The Most Haunted Village In England?
August 18, 2020 6:00 AM ‐ Paranormal
This article is more than three years old and was last updated in September 2023.
Photo: © Brian Toward
If you mention the picturesque village of Pluckley to any paranormal investigator, they'll be quick to tell you that the village is the most haunted in England, but does Pluckley still hold that title?
It's commonly quoted that the small village near Ashford in Kent was credited with the accolade by the Guinness Book of Records in 1989. Pluckley did indeed feature in the edition from that year.
The compendium of world records wrote, "Pluckley in Kent is generally thought to be the most haunted village in England boasting at least twelve spiritous inhabitants. These include both a White and a Red Lady at St Nicholas Church, a Highwayman at Fright Corner, a Screaming Man at the brickworks and a spectral Coach and Horses at various locations. Both pubs cater for more than one kind of spirit. Dancing round the Devil's Bush three times is supposed to guarantee the personal appearance of its namesake-provided the dancer is naked of course."
But records are often beaten. So, after more than three decades, has another English village taken Pluckley's crown?
This is something we were recently left pondering when we put together our list of the 10 Most Haunted Villages In England. Top ten haunted places lists are something we do frequently and we have algorithms that we use to score individual locations based on the longevity of reports, the volume of sightings, the type of paranormal activity and the credibility of witnesses, but we also take into account whether the location has appeared in the news in recent months/years or have been featured in any prominent paranormals investigation or television shows.
Guinness probably featured the village based on its local legends of ghosts, which might score the village highly in terms of longevity of reports, but since 1989 the ghosts of Pluckley have been deathly silent.
According to the Paranormal Database, reports of ghostly goings on seem to have been most frequent in the 1960s through until the 1980s, with the most recent report recorded by the website being in 1991. Since then there have been zero well-reported sightings and no witnesses coming forward in the local or national news at all, let alone credible ones.
A Telegraph reporter, Francesca Hoyles, also came to the conclusion that supernatural activity has ceased when she visited the village in 2008 to report on its ghostly inhabitants before Halloween.
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As for prominent paranormal investigations taking place in the village, Pluckley was the focus of a 2007 episode of 'Midsummer Murders', a spin-off of the long-running ghost hunting series, 'Most Haunted'. However in the episode Yvette Fielding and her team were more interested in the paranormal history of a murder that is said to have been committed in Pluckley, rather than the village's current paranormal activity.
The village also featured in 'Celebrity Haunted Hotel Live' which was broadcast live from Pluckley over Halloween 2016, but according to reviewers at the time, the show's findings were questionable at best.
All this meant that despite Pluckley's numerous historic hauntings, it ranked lower than other villages in our database due to a lack of recent activity or interest, but did Guinness' expertly trained records management team come to the same conclusion?
Well, it's often said that the category of most haunted village hasn't been included in subsequent publications of the Guinness Book of Records, but since the organisation currently logs more than 40,000 records, only around 4,000 records are published in the book each year. So perhaps if Pluckley's title hasn't been broken then the category was deemed not worthy of inclusion?
We contacted Guinness to find out if Pluckley does still hold the title of England's most haunted village. A spokesperson told us, "we have checked our internal database and we are currently unable to locate a record under the details provided in your email."
They added, "this may mean that the record does not exist currently as a Guinness World Records title, or, due to the age of the record, that it may have only featured in the older editions of the Guinness World Records books and is no longer monitored by us."
Then we got to the end of the email where the spokesperson had written, "please note that Guinness World Records only recognises WORLD records. We do not verify national/country specific achievements."
Guinness don't collate country specific records. They might have considered an award for most haunted village in the WORLD, but not the most haunted village in England.
So, why was the record ever included in the book? Had the rules changed? Well, no, but the listing for Pluckley was a little different to all the others in the book. Not only was it highlighted in a box on page 20 of the 1989 edition, but it also had something else no other record had... a question mark.
The short section on Pluckley was titled "most haunted village?" It wasn't actually a world record at all, as the first line of the text confirms, "Pluckley in Kent is generally thought to be the most haunted village in England."
Being the most haunted village in England isn't enough to earn you a world record, the inclusion of the question mark in the title tells us that this is a speculative mention... 'Could Pluckley be the most haunted village in the world? Well, it's thought to be the most haunted in England.'
There's another very telling word in this sentence, "thought". According to Guinness' rules a record needs to be verifiable. Their website states that a record claim must be able to be proven. This is a tricky notion for a haunted village as the organisation's adjudicators would not be able to verify that Pluckley really does have "twelve spiritous inhabitants".
This is the real reason why the category of most haunted village is no longer a consideration of Guinness, because it never was in the first place. Furthermore, the award was never given to Pluckley.
You can find out where Pluckley ranked in our top ten haunted villages and find out which village topped the list here.
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