Underwood (left) at work with a colleague (right) at Dents, with Reginald Hine (behind, right).
“The book contains a reference to
the haunted ruins of Minsden Chapel…”
“…the fourteeenth-century chapel
that was leased to Hine for his lifetime…”
“I had also heard about this reputed haunting from
a leading ghost-hunter of the day…”
“…he told me he twice visited the ruins alone…”
“…and once he heard sounds of sweet and plaintive music…”
“…and thought, just for a second,
that he saw a figure in white
standing in one of the archways.”
“But he added, in the phrase so often used
by serious ghost-hunters and psychical researchers:
‘It was gone almost at once and may have been a trick of the moonlight...’ ”
Minsden Chapel is located not for from Letchworth
in the village of Hitchin.
“I talked with Reginald Hine about Minsden,
and he told me there were several legends and vague stories of a murdered nun…”
“…and a phantom monk
who walk through the ruins at midnight
on All Hallows’ Eve…”
“…the ghost monk mounts steps ‘no longer visible’,
and disappears to the sound of
‘sweet and plaintive music’...”
“I visited Minsden accompanied by my brother
and by Tom Brown…"
“On reaching the secluded site…
we eyed the fragmentary ruins
“…as I turned towards the east end of the ruins, I heard faint but distinct music…”
“…as I stopped to listen,
“Tom Brown hastened towards me
and reported hearing identical sounds…”
only a couple of steps behind me,
After his visit, Underwood makes plans to return to experience Minsden at night...
“On the first All Hallows’ Eve that I spent at Minsden…”
“…in the company of Tom Brown and Derek Clark,
we all saw…”
“…at 1.45 a.m...”
“…a white cross which seemed to glow with an unnatural brightness for a few seconds before fading.
It continued fading and reappearing for some minutes.”
“I suppose it could possibly have been a trick of the moonlight, as a full moon was shining down at the time...”
The cross had appeared near where
the ghost of a monk was once photographed.
Reginald Hine had included the photograph (taken by his friend Thomas Latchmore) in his earlier book The History of Hitchin (1929).
Thomas William Latchmore
Minsden Ghost (1907)
Underwood points to where the luminous cross appeared upon part of the ruins of Minsden Chapel.
However Latchmore later confesses
(in an interview with Elliott O’Donnell)
that it was a hoax.
Many believe the ‘ghostly monk’ in the photograph
is none other than Reginald Hine himself
- with a hat and cloak.
“Hine was greatly interested in the cross we had seen;
and his one encounter with a ghost
remained a vivid memory…”
“It happened at Stanegarth in Bampton in Cumbria,
a crumbling Elizabehan manor-house
with no less than three ghosts…”
“The third apparition is the one Hine
saw when spending a night, a mild-mannered woman
who always seemed to appear to new occupants of the house.”
“He found himself suddenly wide awake,
and he saw a tall, fragile-looking woman
coming towards him…”
fixed and remote,
reminded him of a sleepwalker…”
“…but the eyes were wide open
and in his words
‘shone like the stars…’ ”
“…she stretched out her right hand to touch him and Hine shrieked…”
“Help came, and the figure disappeared…”
“Hine committed suicide a few years later,
in 1949, while chatting to friends
Hitchin railway station.”
“As a train approached he casually said,
‘Wait a minute…’
and walked on to the line in its path…”
“Meticulous to the end,
he left a note
addressed to the local coroner.”
“…he told me that it was his intention
that his ashes should be scattered
in Minsden Chapel…”
“…so he gave a warning
‘to trespassers and sacrilegious persons...
after my death… I will endeavour, in all ghostly ways,
to protect and haunt its hallowed walls…’ ”
Hine’s memorial at Minsden Chapel