Animal ghosts often appear with their human but spectral companions. Then there are those, such as the phantom horses that pull phantom coaches or carry ghostly highwaymen, that have a more integral part in the haunting. What all these animal ghosts have in common is that the phantom has a 'supporting role.
However, listed here you will find those ghost animals that make, what you might call, a 'special ghost appearance'. They are the stars of the show.
Ghost Cat - All Hallows by the Tower, London
This is not your normal phantom cat but a pedigree Persian. The story goes that an organist at All Hallows Church died and left instructions that when her beloved moggy passed on that it should be buried in consecrated ground. The vicar would not allow this to be done. Now the ghost cat is seen wandering around the church.
It does make you wonder what causes a haunting such as this. Surely the cat can't be bothered about its final resting place. It is one of those that is total inexplicable. For more hauntings at this particular church, check out the entry for All Hallows church.
Ghost Bear - Tower of London
One of the many repeated animal ghost stories refers to the large bear that was seen in January 1816 by a sentry on guard duty in the Tower of London at what was then the Jewel Tower and is now the Martin Tower. The bear appeared to be real so the sentry lunged at it with his bayonet. The bayonet went straight through the bear and struck the wall behind. The sentry collapsed with fear and died a few days later from shock after telling what had happened.
This apparent over-reaction becomes a little more understandable when it is realised that, at the time of the appearance, the Tower had a menagerie containing a variety of animals, including bears. The poor sentry probably thought it was one that had escaped. The Tower menagerie closed in 1835 and the animals were moved to the then newly built London Zoo.
Ghost White Horse - Bryn-y-maen, Nr Colyne Bay, Wales
Welsh folklore features a number of animal ghosts, including stories of phantom horses. Perhaps the origin of the tales are appearances such as this one.
The witness on this occasion, was driving to work early in the morning but sticking to the minor back roads as his car was unlicensed. Just as the day dawned, suddenly a large white horse appeared from over a hedge. The terrified driver said that the horse, 'filled the windscreen' and he fully expected a collision. He braced himself as he slammed on the brakes, his car spinning in the road as it came to a stop. When the driver looked up, the horse had vanished.
This man is not the only person to have seen this frightening apparition in the same area and at the same time of day.
White Horse - Edgehill
Phantom horses can be found in a number of places in Britain. 'White Horse Road' in Edgehill, is apparently one of them. It is named after the spectral white horse that has been seen galloping across the fields. The road runs from the site of the haunted Edgehill battlefield to the place where the bodies of the slain soldiers of both armies were buried.
There are two theories as to who originally owned the horse. One is that it belonged to Prince Rupert, who survived the battle and the other that the phantom horse belonged to Captain Kingsmill who died on the field of battle.
Ghost Monkey - Athelhampton Hall, Dorset
This must be one of Britain's most exotic animal ghosts.Athelhampton House boasts a ghost monkey. The house was originally built by the Martyn family who's family crest was a monkey sitting on a tree stump and their motto was, "He who looks at Martyn's ape, Martyn's ape will look at him". And it is Martyn's ape who haunts the hall.
The tragic story is as follows. The ape had freedom of the house and could wander as it chose. One of the daughters of the Martyn family had an unhappy love-affair and determined to kill herself. Maybe the ape sensed something had upset the girl, as pets often able to do. Whatever, as the girl climbed the hidden stairs to the secret room, the ape followed her unobserved. The poor girl put an end to her life feeling, no-doubt, that she was totally alone in the world.
But she was not alone, the ape was with her. What frantic attempts were made to find the girl or how long it was before she was found, we are not told. However, by that time, the poor monkey had starved to death. The ghost monkey is never seen but its spirit can be heard vainly scratching at the panelling of the secret room and staircase in an eternal, frantic attempt to escape.
You can read about my experiences at the Hall but I did not hear any ghost animals unfortunately.
Ghost Goose - Melsonby, Yorkshire
The ghost hunter, Elliott O'Donnell tells of a farmer who was driving in a pony and trap along the road in Melsonby when his horse suddenly shied and bolted. The farmer wrestled with the reins and finally got the horse under control although he was still travelling very fast.
At a loss as to the reason for the horse's sudden fear, he saw beside the trap what appeared to be a large white goose waddling along the road the way geese do yet travelling over the ground as fast as he was. When they reached the church-yard, to the farmer's immense relief, the goose turned in through the closed and locked gates.
This spectral bird has been seen by several people on a number of other occasions.
Chicken Ghost - Highgate Pond, London
There are some very odd animal ghosts and this must count amoungst the strangest. In fact, when I recounted the story to a friend, he answered, 'Yeah, right. Here's my leg. Now pullet!' And as befits the spectral creature, it has its own Highgate Chicken Ghost page.
While you are in the area, you might want to check out the Highgate Vampire. After all, did not Dracula have the ability to turn into both a dog and a bat!
Ghost Horses - Bramham Park, Yorkshire
The area around Bramham Park is haunted by some animal ghosts in the form of a group of phantom horses. They are far more usually heard than seen. However, observers describe them as being unusually large, light-coloured creatures with flowing manes and tails. Apart from their sudden appearance, apparently from no-where, there is nothing about them to suggest that they are anything other than flesh and blood.
It is believed that these are the ghosts of horses that took part in the Battle of Bramham Moor on 20th February 1408 during which the Earl of Northumberland was killed by Sir Thomas Rokeby and his army.
Pig of Plenty - Isle of Man
By contrast to the rather nasty Mauthe Doog, some animal ghosts are supposed to bring great fortune to the observer. This is one such that you would do well to look out for if you are ever on the Isle of Man. It is called in the Manx language, Arc-Vuc-Sonney which means, 'Pig of Plenty'. It can sometimes be seen on fine, moon-lit nights. If it crosses your path then try to keep it in sight for as long as possible and it will bring you good luck. It is said to be fortunate even if you just catch a glimpse of it.
Ghost Pigs - Merripit Hill, Dartmoor
Merripit Hill is where phantom sow and her litter of piglets has been sighted. They are traditionally said to make there way to Cator Gate where there had been the carcass of a horse. But when they got there, the crows had picked the horse clean and all that was left were bones and skin. So the starving pigs returned to Merripit Hill.
Incidentally, in a few years it may impossible to tell these animal ghosts from their more physical cousins! After being hunted to extinction 300 years ago, Britain now once again has a population of wild boar. I rather like the idea of the return of this indigenous species to the countryside.
Ghost Rabbit - Thetford Warren Lodge
The Lodge was built in the 15th century by monks from the nearby Cluniac priory for the person who looked after the rabbits in the Westwick rabbit warren. In those days, rabbits were an import source of both fresh meat and fur and they were farmed much as we farm sheep. And the animal ghost that haunts here is a white rabbit. It has been seen several times, hopping around near the building. A ghostly reminder of the history of the area.
Phantom Dogs - Nationwide
You may think that it is odd that there are no ghost dogs listed on a page devoted to animal ghosts. There are a number of such such creatures that haunt the British Isles.
However, many of them seem to come under a special category of phantom that can only to be found in Britain. So all spectral hounds, regardless of shape, colour or size can be found on the Black Dogs page.
All except the Mauthe Doog, the Black Dog of Peel Castle, which has a page all to itself.
Well, that's all the animal ghosts I have for you now. But check back regularly as I have information on many more.
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