Haunted Britain: Ghosts and Psychic Quests at White Ladies Priory
White Ladies Priory, in Albrighton, was the scene of a famous psychic questing in the 1980s. It seems that the reverberations are still being felt.
White Ladies Priory was once a 12th century nunnery, situated between Albrighton and Shackleton in Shropshire. It was torn down during the Dissolution of the Monastries, so that now only the ruins of the church remain. During the English Civil War, there was still slightly more. Charles II stayed overnight in a farmhouse on the site, hiding from Parliamentarians. The next day, he moved just a mile up the road, to Boscobel House, where he famously hid in a tree.
These days the ruins have a sinister reputation. Stories abound, locally or internationally on the internet, of people experiencing something strange there. Snatches of music or a low hum are heard in the grounds; isolated patches of white mist gather into human forms; horses are heard galloping along the woodland walk, though none are visible; electrical equipment fails; and people feel nauseous or the overwhelming impulse to simply flee from nothing that they can articulate. More than one story tells of people driving away feeling that they have an extra, unseen passenger.
Is this all the result of a psychic questing that happened in the 1980s? If so, is it a disturbance left there or suggestion fuelled imaginations, running rampant through knowing that story?
White Ladies Priory: The Green Stone and the Forces of Evil
On the night of February 1st, 1982, a group of psychic questers followed an ethereal trail into a real life location. They had with them a green stone, found elsewhere on their trail, which was described as a source of great spiritual energy.
To the ancient Celts and modern day Pagans, this day was Imbolc, one of the major Sabbats in the wheel of the year, and it was a chilly night in the ruins of White Ladies Priory. Authors Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman described a showdown with the Prince of Darkness Himself. Something seemingly evil rose from a grassy mound adjacent to the priory. It took the form of a giant shadowy dragon or bird and it swooped down to attack those present.
But there are two versions as to what happened next. In the book The Green Stone, the eponymous jade is seen as a force for good. It is used to defeat the evil darkness assaulting them. In the subsequent documentary of the same name, it is implied that the stone itself was evil. The dragon was a guardian come to protect the tumulus beneath. One of the party, Marion Sutherland, ran into the ruins of White Ladies and ‘discharged and neutralised’ the jade in the consecrated soil. There were balls of lights and screeches from the woodland, but the creature had gone away.
For those present, the green stone story was now over. Marion declared it ‘harmless’ and they all went home.
White Ladies Priory: The Burial Mound of Gwenhwyfar.
White Ladies Priory was revisited, two decades later, with the details once again given by Phillips and Keatman. In King Arthur: The True Story, they linked the site with the nunnery, where Queen Gwenhwyfar (aka Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur) retired after her affair with Lancelot. Her name can be translated as White Lady, leading to their conclusion that this had originally been White Lady’s Priory and the tumulus contained the body of one of Britain’s most legendary queens.
It explained why the mound’s guardian had been a dragon. After all, Arthur was Pen Draig (head dragon) amongst the Welsh.
White Ladies Priory: Ghosthunters in the Ruins.
I paid a personal visit to White Ladies Priory, lured by its mysterious reputation. For years, I have been hearing stories from people who had experienced strange emotions or seen ghostly figures there. I did not have an auspicious start. I took out my camera to take my first photograph, but received instead a warning beep. The battery had just drained. Undeterred, I reached into my handbag to retrieve my mobile ‘phone for its camera facility. It too was completely dead. It seemed that White Ladies was living up to its legend!
I wasn’t alone in the ruins. Mike and Helen Jones, their friend Chris Deakin and two young children were also exploring. The adults were amateur ghosthunters, originally attracted to the site after stories heard in their native Walsall, in the West Midlands. Those tales seemed consistent with those told in my own area; which have already been listed.
This was their second visit. Mrs Jones told me that, on the first occasion, she had been personally attacked by something unseen, upon leaving the site. As she reached her car, a sharp pinching sensation, on her arm, made her yelp aloud. All three saw the marks that it left. On that same trip, Mr Deakin had felt someone stroke the back of his neck; while Mr Jones, a psychic, had seen the outline of three women walking along the pathway in the White Ladies copse.
White Ladies Priory: A Warning for Psychic Questers.
With Hallowe’en approaching, many people will be looking for somewhere spooky to spend the night. White Ladies Priory is maintained by English Heritage, with a sign at the gate stating that the ruins are only officially open during the hours of daylight.
With masonry lying around, there is evidence that the walls aren’t entirely stable. There are also some severe dips in the ground levels, which may be difficult to anticipate in darkness. More distressingly, some of the walls are blackened with soot, in places where the architecture does not suggest a hearth. Modern thrill-seekers could well be completing the 17th century vandalism by destroying the structure with late night bonfires. No wonder the spirits are reputedly hostile!