Halloween: Britain's most haunted location is Somerset village Dunster - so what's it like to live there?
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Life in Britain's most haunted place is definitely anything but normal. Apparently 'every home has a ghost' as spirits of monks, soldiers, witches and other beings from the past are said to fill this ancient village with a spooky atmosphere.
But despite this, more than 800 brave souls still live in Dunster, Somerset, who go about their normal lives in the houses, pubs, and hills said to be filled with entities who haven't moved on. The village was once home to a large Benedictine chapel and - as the story goes - after it was destroyed by Henry VIII, the surrounding area was flooded with spectres.
Grey ladies, horses, and Civil War troops are but a few of the ghostly characters seen by residents who firmly believe there is a paranormal presence in the village which predates the Domesday Book. Residents shared their thoughts on the spooky place.
Sues Toogood, 55, a pharmacy dispenser, bought a cottage in Dunster. She said: “It was a wreck, the heating didn’t work at all and a tiny fireplace was the only source of heat. I soon realised that all the smoke from the fire was coming out of a crack in the chimney in the upstairs bedroom.
''I had nowhere else to go so I slept in the spare room. In the early hours of the morning, I woke up in the middle of the night to voices. I was a bit scared at first but I walked through and realised it was the radio. It was a battery radio that I had put out for the builders. I thought it was strange but I switched it off and went back to bed, but then it happened again the next night.
''I realised that if I had stayed asleep I might not have woken up because of the smoke and carbon monoxide coming in from the other room. I felt like the ghost was saving me from dying, it was a kind presence. I truly believe the ghost was saving me.”
Janie Deeming, 59 and Nigel Deeming, 57, run the 15th-century Stags Head Inn, the oldest pub in Dunster, which according to them has it own resident ghost. Janie said: “Nearly every building in Dunster is believed to have a ghost or two. The house that we live in is very active, and we’ve only just managed to settle it down.
"I nearly didn’t move in here because they gave me merry hell, but now they’ve started to work with me rather than against me. Before we moved here five months ago we stayed in a particular house in the area, and the last time we went, let’s just say the spirits were awake.
“On the first night, a door on the dresser clicked open, and we didn’t think much of it but then it opened two or three more times. I then put my hand on it to keep it closed, and it pushed back, and I knew that wasn’t normal.
“The next night a book flew off the bookshelf and fell open on a ghost story, and we all joked about it, but later that night when I was washing up, I could feel a presence behind me. We fell in love with Dunster and I love my house. I’ve managed to bring the spirits on my side, but it took some work.” Benedict Yeandle, 56, said: ''When I first moved in, for the first six weeks we had things happening, and customers would always notice it. A smell of smoke could always be smelt even though there was no explanation for it, and one day a can of coke flew from one side of the room to the other, completely intact, just with a small dent in it.
“I think whatever is living with me in here is a female, because it has only happened when I’ve employed female staff to work for me. I’m a bachelor and I think it got a little bit jealous. But now there hasn’t been any women coming here, she’s settled down.”
Author Nina Dodd, 66, has written a book 'Witches, Giants and a Ghost Cat' - a 'travel guide to the mystery tales of Dunster'. Nina moved to the village twelve years ago from her native Finland and has become fascinated by the English 'obsession' with ghosts.
The author, who runs her own 'Dunster Living' store with her husband on the village's high street, said: "I started researching this book years ago after hearing stories about how haunted Dunster is. I find the British fascination with ghosts very interesting. In Finland, we do not have anywhere near as many ghost stories or 'haunted' places.
"I think a big part of it is that England has so many older homes and buildings. In Finland, we built our homes out of timber and wood for a long time - we still do. But in England, they are all old stone - so they last a lot longer. Everyone I speak to in the village has some kind of story to tell. Some like to keep them to themselves, but clearly have had some kind of experience.
"We get people coming into our shop all the time telling us stories about your traditional grey ladies, or children ghosts. Quite often I hear about Roundheads, soldiers from the English Civil Wars, too. One very common one we hear is about ghost monks, because there was once a Benedictine chapel in Dunster which was destroyed when Henry VIII was King."