In the Sussex countryside behind a medieval moat and gatehouse, stands the dominating Michelham Priory. People had been living at the site since Saxon times. Built by Augustine monks and commissioned by Gilbert L’Aigle the Priory was a place of peace and worship, completed in 1229AD. The monks harnessed the river that flows past the Priory by building a mill and traded using the busy waterways. The church of the holy trinity stood over the Priory, and the monks prospered.

The History

By the fifteenth century England had begun to change, and attitudes towards the monks lead to the construction of the defensive moat and gatehouse that bears the eagle of the crest of L’Aigle. The Priory became a fortress as the monks sought to defend their self-sufficient and peaceful existence. In 1529, tired of the power and influence of the church over the crown, King Henry VIII initiated the dissolution of the churches and Michelham Priory was marked for attack. The Augustine Monks could not defend against the Kings men and the Priory was taken and the church of the holy trinity destroyed, it is not known how many were killed during the attack.

The Priory was now property of the crown many buildings were desecrated for building materials, including the remains of the church. The Priory was left silent and empty for decades until a local man bought the property and converted some of the buildings into a house. Fate seemed to conspire against the owner and he sold the property again.

This time the property was bought by the future Earl of Dorset, and it remained in his family for the next 300 years. Perhaps it was the history of the building, but few people called the Priory home and the earl let out his property to farmers who built new buildings and utilized the mill and river trade. After the decline of the river network, the Priory again stood empty and went through a series of owners before it was bought for the last time in the 1950’s and was donated the Sussex archaeological society.

The Hauntings

Michelham Priory is set on a medieval moated island where it is possible to imagine the life of the Augustinian Monk who have lived there since 1229.It is also the site of the pilot of Most Haunted, a series that started a legacy of paranormal programming.

Paranormal sightings at Michelham Priory are reported every year. Many people has witnessed hooded figures stalking the grounds, often ascending invisible staircases and passing through building walls. Every year seances are held at the house and many of the reports cite the same spirits. The sobs of a crying woman have been witnessed on many occasions, as have the frantic footfalls of a running child.

A tyrannical male presence as also said to dominate the house and this character is thought to be Robert Henry Sackville, a direct relation to the Earl of Dorset, and a previous owner who is said to haunt the priory. He has been reported that during his haunting’s he is said to torment the ghost of a young girl called Rosie, who allegedly hides away in a priest hole at the top of the stairs behind the wood paneling seeking refuge from her tormenter. Psychics have often commented that there seemed to be a very negative atmosphere within the original parts of the building that dates back to before the property entered the keeping of Mr Sackville. Michelham Priory is open to the public as a industrial tourist attraction, and plays down its disturbing history, though it does truly possess a foreboding atmosphere.

One of the most documented ghosts is that of a lady in gray who has been seen on many occasions crossing the bridge and by the gate house, or near the moat staring helplessly into the water. It is believed she is another former member of the Sackville family whose child had drowned in the moat many years past. Allegedly, it said that on occasion sleeping guests have been awakened to see her standing over their bed peer mournfully down into their faces and will drift away through the walls of their chamber.

Several other reports include a black hooded monk in the under-croft, a young boy in the old kitchens, a maid in the hall or on the stairs, and a mysterious lady in Tudor period clothing walking the corridors. But let us not forget to mention the tales of poltergeist activity. With windows opening and closing by themselves or objects mysteriously moved from one room, to another. Several guests have also claimed to hear the banging of doors in the deserted parts of the building.

Whatever or whoever they are, it makes many of the visitors to the priory feel as if they’re constantly being watched, often accompanied by sharp variations of temperature and a deep uneasy feeling of woe.

The Most Haunted Pilot Team

This location proves to be one of the most thrilling locations the team ever visited. Ghostly legs spook the team and Yvette is petrified as Jason’s electromagnetic field meter picks up on a spiritual figure that Derek subsequently makes contact with.

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