Michelham Priory

The Ghosts of Michelham Priory

East Sussex’s 800-year-old haunted treasure.

Michelham Priory is a picturesque Tudor House and former Augustine Priory on a medieval moated island in Upper Dicker, East Sussex.

Dating back to 1229 and boasting a colourful history, there is little wonder Michelham Priory is considered one of Britain’s most haunted places.

Michelham Priory Moat
Michelham Priory’s moat with the Priory in the background. Image copyright GhostMag.com

The History of Michelham Priory

Michelham Priory has a colourful history dating back to the 13th century. Gilbert de Aquila founded the Priory in 1229 as an Augustinian monastic house, building on the site of an earlier Saxon church.

The Priory played an essential role in the local community, serving as a center of worship, learning, and charity. It also played a crucial role in the area’s defence, as the monks built a defensive wall, moat, and towers around the complex to protect against raiders.

During the 14th century, the Black Death plague swept Britain like wildfire and hit Michelham Priory hard. Despite many challenges, it went through a long decline but continued to operate until King Henry VIII dissolved it during the English Reformation in 1537.

Following its dissolution, the building passed through many hands and was owned by significant historical figures such as Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleeves, and Queen Mary. It was eventually purchased by Thomas Sackville, who reputedly haunted the building, in 1601 and was passed down through his family’s generations.

In the 19th century, architect Walter Godfrey lovingly restored the Priory, which was used to house Canadian troops and evacuees during World War Two.

Michelham Priory Gatehouse
The gatehouse at Michelham Priory – Image Copyright GhostMag.com

Ghost Sightings at Michelham Priory

Michelham Priory is haunted by many ghosts, including the former owner, Thomas Sackville, who purchased the property in 1601.

There have also been reports of a hooded monk, who roams the undercroft, and the sounds of ghostly children have been heard on the upper floors, even when there are no children on the premises.

Ghostly inhabitants of the Priory are not confined to the refectory building and have been seen wandering the grounds. A ‘Grey Lady’ has been spotted near the 13th-century moat, while a young boy has been seen in the gardens and the Priory’s kitchen area.

The team of Most Haunted (during the filming of their pilot episode in 2002) reinforced Michelham’s reputation as a haunted hot spot when they captured apparent poltergeist activity on camera. The footage appeared to show a chair moving on its own and remains some of the most compelling evidence ever caught in the 21-year history of the show.

Several other buildings on the site are also said to be haunted. Visitors have heard ghostly footsteps and loud knocking in the water mill, while cold spots have been experienced in the basement of the gatehouse, which is believed to have once operated as a prison.

Investigators have also complained of problems with electrical equipment in the watermill and unexplainably high electromagnetic field readings on EMF meters in the refectory building.

Can I visit Michelham Priory?

Michelham Priory reopens from March 2023 (weekends only) following a winter break. You can find more information on the Michelham Priory website.

Haunted Locations Nearby

If you’re looking to make a day of it and explore more reputedly haunted locations in East Sussex, you can visit Herstmonceux Castle. It’s a medieval castle close to Michelham Priory and is said to be haunted by a former resident named Lady Dacre.

Another location worth visiting is Bodiam Castle, a 14th-century castle built to defend against French invasion during the Hundred Years War. Visitors have reported encountering ghost of a headless drummer among other spooks.

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