The Black Monk of Pontefract is an infamous poltergeist haunting that occurred at the home of the Pritchard family, in England, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
30 East Drive, Chequerfield Estate, Pontefract, Yorkshire, England
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
In 1966 the Pritchard family, consisting of Jean, Joe and their two children, Phillip (fifteen), and Diane (twelve), moved into a new home on 30 East Drive, in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England. They claimed that shortly after they had ‘settled in’ strange things, which started ‘rather innocently enough’, began to happen around the home.
The house is situated on a corner and at the top of a hill, and is close to what was reportedly once the site of the town gallows.
The reported poltergeist tormented the family with a wide variety of paranormal activity including pools of water, lights turning off and on again, furniture overturning, pictures being slashed, objects flying or levitating, knocking sounds, objects disappearing and appearing again, foul smells, ‘farmyard noises’, heavy breathing sounds, sudden drops of temperature, unexplained footsteps, and a mysterious black-robed figure, who would later become known as the Black Monk of Pontefract, whose appearances would become ‘more and more frequent’ at the house.
The police, a local MP, the town vicar and neighbours were all reported witnesses to the ‘extraordinary happenings which continued to plague the household’, a decade before the famous Amityville and Enfield cases came to public attention, and the haunting in Pontefract would later be acknowledged as Europe’s ‘most violent haunting’.
The first big incident was reportedly on September 1 in 1966, although other sources state it was an August Bank Holiday weekend, when Philip was at home with his grandmother, Sarah Scholes, while the rest of the family was away on holiday in Devon.
Reportedly, one day Phillip was ‘running around the neighbourhood with his friends’ while his grandmother Sarah was sitting back at the house, knitting, and when Phillip returned home they both reportedly felt a ‘strange gust of cold wind pass through despite the summer heat’.
Shortly after Phillip witnessed what seemed to be a ‘white powder or mist snowing down’ from mid-air, ‘over his grandmother’s head’ and they heard the sound of footsteps ‘echoed from above’. At first, they believed that the powder was ‘somehow falling from the ceiling’ but the house had reportedly been recently redecorated.
Sarah then went to consult her daughter, Marie Kelly, who lived across the road from the house but she and Phillip were at this point ‘more confused than scared’. When Marie saw the white powder she went into the kitchen for a cloth to clean it up and slipped in a pool of water that had formed on the kitchen floor.
They found ‘inexplicable pools of water spreading on the floor of the kitchen’ and as they stared, the ‘bumping noise continued from the next floor up and that dust rained down upon them’. One of the neighbours, Enid Pritchard, had reportedly come round at this point to ‘see what the commotion was about’. Enid immediately went and turned off the water at the stop cock but this made no difference and the pools of water continued to appear.
At the time they thought that the water was ‘merely the result of a broken pipe’ and called in a repairman to take a look, but after ‘much checking of pipes, rodding of drains’ in the kitchen the repairman could not find ‘anything amiss’ and summarised that the water could be condensation. Reportedly, the water continued to pool up even as the repairman was there but would eventually stop, leaving everyone present ‘completely baffled as to what was going on’ and an hour later the pools of water stopped appearing.
Later the same evening, around 7 pm, when Sarah was watching TV in the living room, Phillip shouted from the kitchen that it was happening again and she saw that the pools had begun to form again but were this time joined by a ‘violent, jolting rattling of various cutlery and pots and pans around the kitchen’. The cupboards and furniture in the kitchen also reportedly began to ‘vibrate and move about without explanation or apparent cause’
The worktop in the kitchen was also ‘strewn with sugar and dry tea leaves’ and the button on the tea dispenser ‘went slowly in and out several times covering the draining board in tea’ which reportedly somehow carried on even when the tea dispenser was empty.
Sarah shouted ‘in desperation’ to ‘stop it! and there was a ‘loud crash from the hallway’ and they slowly opened the door leading to the hallway, expecting to find a burglar, but found it ‘silent, dark and empty’ when the hall light began to turn on and off of its own accord ‘startling them both’.
Sarah and Phillip then noticed that a potted plant, that was normally positioned at the foot of the stairs, was reportedly now ‘inexplicably sitting at the top of the stairs’. Some sources reported however that the plant was only ‘halfway up the stairs’ and was ‘missing its pot’ which was on the landing above.
Then, they heard the crockery and cupboards in the kitchen begin to vibrate again with ‘greater vigour’ and upon investigating they found that the crockery cupboard was ‘vibrating as though someone was trapped inside and trying to get out’ and as soon as Philip ‘snatched open the door’ the vibrations stopped. Almost immediately, another ‘loud banging noise started up somewhere else in the house’.
Sarah then noticed a ‘sudden chill in the air’ and went to her daughter again and as soon as Marie stepped into the kitchen she was ‘confronted by the shaking crockery cupboard and the sound of the cups and plates inside rattling’. Then Sarah went next door to ask the neighbours, Mr and Mrs Mountain if they were responsible for the banging noises but they told Sarah that they thought it was her and Phillip. However, by the time she returned to the house the noises had stopped.
Sarah, Phillip and Marie then sat discussing the unnerving events until around 9:30 pm when Marie left, ‘hoping it was all over for the night’, and Philip decided to go to bed. After Sarah locked up the house and switched off the downstairs lights she went into Phillip’s room to wish him goodnight when a heavy chest of drawers reportedly ‘began to sway on its own volition’.
Philip and his grandmother then packed a few things and headed to a neighbour’s house for the night out of fear for their safety and in terror of what was going on’.
By the time the rest of the family had returned from their trip the strange phenomena seemed had reportedly stopped and, at the time, they had all thought that ‘there had to be some normal explanation for what had happened’ and it would another two years before anything else ‘out of the ordinary would happen’ in the house. But when the activity did return it did so ‘with a vengeance’.
Reportedly, pools of water began forming again ‘all over the house’, furniture was moved or ‘rattled’ on its own, ‘odd green foam’ would ‘seep’ out of water taps, there were ‘unidentified sickening odours’ that would waft through the home, ‘anomalous noises’ such as heaving breathing and, the sound of ‘barnyard animals’, loud thuds and bangs would sound out from all over the house, doors would slam open or shut by themselves, and family portraits and furniture would be found ‘demolished or slashed and disfigured as with a knife’.
The phenomena would plague the family for several years, but they ‘refused to succumb to it and move from their home’ and the paranormal activity became so common that the entity became known to the family as ‘Fred’.
The activity ‘steadily graduated in intensity’ as things were ‘smashed or broken by unseen hands’, objects went flying across the room, ‘even in the presence of guests’ and reportedly, ‘whenever people came over the phenomena seemed to actually get worse and more violent’. This even happened in the presence of local police officers and the town vicar, and authorities claimed to be unable to find any rational explanation.
Reportedly, Diane, in particular, seemed to be targeted by the entity, during the supposed second phase of the poltergeist activity, and would often wake up with ‘scratches and bruises’ and to the sound of ‘heavy breathing or undefined voices in her ears’, would be thrown out of her bed, and on one occasion she was reportedly dragged up the stairs by her throat by ‘an invisible hand that left lacerations on her neck’ which would reportedly leave obvious marks and bruises on her neck.
On at least one occasion she was ‘actively choked and slapped around by an unseen force in full view of witnesses’ and her hair was sometimes seen to ‘stand up as if someone were pulling and yanking on it’, after which she was ‘forcefully dragged up the stairs screaming’. Diane would also be pushed, have her hair pulled and, on several occasions, was ‘dragged across the room’. The entity would also ‘lash out’ at others and there were reports of people being ‘held down, pushed, slapped, or punched’ even if they were just visiting.
It was common to hear in the house ‘inexplicable loud crashing sounds’, especially when there was ‘outside company’, and objects would go ‘flying around the air and crashing, or dematerialising and then reappearing in a different location’. One visiting relative reportedly had a jug of milk poured over their head, which both Philip and Diane reportedly found ‘very amusing’ and the Pritchard’s reportedly found ‘a bunch of old keys dropped down the chimney’.
Reportedly, the activity ‘seemed to work in cycles, with times when this would happen on a daily basis interspersed with long absences, sometimes for weeks at a time’ and, ‘in the face of the escalating malevolent activity’, the Pritchard family reached out to the Church for help.
There were also reportedly two attempts at an exorcism but these attempts ‘only to agitate the situation’ and, after a ‘concerned family friend’ doused holy water throughout the home.
During the attempted exorcisms crucifixes were reportedly ‘knocked out of hands or smashed to pieces, and inverted crosses were sometimes found painted or scrawled upon the walls in red and black ink, neither of which were kept in the house’ and would ‘destroy the crucifixes that decorated the Pritchard house’. It was also reported that holy water would ‘appear seeping out of the walls’, clergymen had their faces slapped, were pushed, a pair of ghostly hands would appear ‘floating in the air conducting the hymns’ used to try and expel Fred.
In one particularly frightening incident, an invisible force ‘picked up a candlestick and held it in front of the priest’s face’ who reportedly ran out of the house and never came back.
The entity also, reportedly late in the haunting, began to make itself ‘known and visible as a full apparition’ and first appeared to Joe and Jean, who woke in the middle of the night to see a black-cloaked, ‘dark shape standing at the foot of their bed staring at them’ but the figure ‘soon dissipated’ On another occasion, Joe claimed to have woken up one night to see a ‘figure in flowing black robes hovering over his bed’.
On other, subsequent occasions, other members of the family, as well as visitors, claimed to see a figure that looked like a monk but could reportedly never glimpse a face underneath the robes. The apparition was often described this way, as ‘dressed in black robes and with a hood covering his face, not unlike what a medieval monk might wear’ and which would also earn it the nickname ‘The Black Monk’.
The family, neighbours and locals would even claim to have spotted the apparition ‘prowling the property’ and that it would even ‘change things up by appearing wearing women’s fur gloves’.
The Pritchard’s called in paranormal investigators who found some ‘interesting things’ when looking into the history of the land the house sat upon. Investigator and author Tom Cuniff found that the area had once been the site of a battle and had also been used as the town gallows, where ‘hundreds of people’ had been executed.
In particular, there was supposedly a ‘Cluniac monk who had met his end by hanging here, after being found guilty of raping and killing a young girl around Diane’s age back in the 16th century’, during the reign of Henry VIII. Cuniff believed that it was this spirit that was haunting the home and, ever since, the poltergeist has been known as the Black Monk of Pontefract.
However, not long after the physical manifestations of the monk began to appear, the haunting ‘abruptly ceased, never to occur again’.
“The weeks would go on with the family bracing for the Black Monk to rear his sinister head yet again, but it was completely quiet for no apparent reason, as if he had just gotten bored and stopped.”https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2018/08/the-sinister-case-of-the-black-monk/ (Mysterious Universe, 2018)
The Pritchards would still eventually move out and sold the house in 2012, and the house would become a popular destination for paranormal investigators, some of whom apparently claimed to have uncovered the fact that indeed the Black Monk was ‘still around and as active as ever, perhaps perturbed by new trespassers to his domain’.
NICK GROFF AND KATRINA WEIDMAN
A reportedly ‘very well-known and harrowing investigation’ of the house was carried out by ‘seasoned paranormal researchers Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman’ from the TV series Paranormal Lockdown. Groff and Weidman decided to spend a few days locked up inside of the home, and ‘almost as soon as the doors closed there were purportedly strange goings-on’.
They claimed the investigation started with ‘a sense of an indefinable dread’ and a door being ‘slammed shut almost immediately’ and Groff would say of his first impression of the house:
“Right when we stepped on the property it felt different. There’s an energy about it. When you take a step into that location it’s haunting, it really is, without anything really even occurring you just feel it, you feel the energy and the sense that something is there lurking in the shadows.”https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2018/08/the-sinister-case-of-the-black-monk/ (Mysterious Universe, 2018)
The pair would go on to be woken by ‘slamming or banging noises in the house’ and would, the next day, try and reach out to the entity known to the Pritchard family a Fred and asked if it would move a ball.
Reportedly, the ball ‘apparently began rolling across the floor of its own volition’ and the spirit seemed ‘rather playful at first’ before things started to get ‘knocked off of stands, thrown across the room, or broken, and a clock dropped off the wall’. They claimed that when Groff reached out to ask the spirit if it needed ‘a lot of energy [to move things]’ they captured an EVP recording saying ‘desperata’ which means ‘hopeless’ in Latin.
Apparently, after this whenever they asked the entity something else it would remain silent but the room temperature would ‘drop dramatically’ and a shadowy figure was allegedly filmed ‘moving across a room’.
The night time noises would also begin to occur with ‘increased amplification’, a knife was ‘inexplicably left on the stairs’, the crew began to complain of being ‘pushed or shoved by something’ and Katrina claimed to have been ‘held in place, attacked, and scratched’.
“We’ve captured this solid figure moving past one of the doors, things moving on their own. My co-host Katrina, she got scratched too at one point so it got really scary as it escalated through our investigation of a hundred hours. When I was living there for 100 hours there were moments when I was terrified, like when I was sleeping and I was really deep in sleep. And anybody, I don’t care how strong you are or how big you are, you will be startled in the darkness, and you’re all alone, and something bangs really loud in the room and the door opens on its own, and you see an apparition – you’re going to get startled.”https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2018/08/the-sinister-case-of-the-black-monk/ (Mysterious Universe, 2018)
GHOST DIMENSION INVESTIGATION
In 2017, paranormal investigator Rebecca Palmer (thirty-four) claimed to have filmed a ‘ghostly apparition appearing to say the name Bex’, a ‘ghoulish growl’ and a door suddenly swinging open while visiting the house with her husband Sean Reynolds and their cameraman Paul Jowett. The team were there to film for the latest series of the TV show Ghost Dimension.
Palmer, from Liverpool, claimed to have been ‘initially sceptical about visiting the house’ but later admitted she ‘feared for [her] life’ and said that she ‘didn’t think the energy of the poltergeist would still be there after so long’. She claimed that as soon as she walked into the house she could feel ‘a presence’ and a ‘pressure’ on her head like ‘someone or something was trying to push [her] out of the house’.
“When we were upstairs Sean and I kept hearing lots of taps, bangs and knocks and they would get louder when we called out to ‘Fred’ which is what the family nicknamed the poltergeist. It’s the first time in ages I have been genuinely frightened. It was terrifying, the energy in there was really dark. I kept saying to Sean, ‘I want to get out’. That’s all I could think about. I decided to try to tough it out and we went downstairs to join Paul but Fred must have known how much he was scaring me because the next thing we knew our equipment had picked up my name. It was absolutely spine-chilling. I’ve never had such clear and intelligent communication from a paranormal entity before. And the noise he let out after, that demonic scream was horrifying. I’ve never heard anything like it. There is no denying it was of another world, it was just this really gruesome growling.”https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4808498/petrified-mum-claims-she-filmed-black-monk-of-pontefract-ghost-whispering-her-name-and-opening-doors/ (The Sun, 2017)
Sean claimed to have been excited to ‘take a peek inside 30 East Drive’ but ‘found himself questioning his and Rebecca’s safety’.
“When we arrived at the house I had been so excited to finally be filming at 30 East Drive. I had heard so many stories about what went on here through the 60s and seen so many photos of monk-like figures. But when we were in the midst of it all I was frightened for myself and for Bex. We had never experienced so many paranormal happenings going in one place and in such quick succession.”https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2018/08/the-sinister-case-of-the-black-monk/ (Mysterious Universe, 2018)
The video can be watched here.
GHOSTNSPECTORS PARANORMAL GROUP
Pete Boulton and Rob Hughes from Ghostnspectors Paranormal Group visited the house to investigate and claimed to have captured a picture which appears to show a hallway mirror with a face ‘staring out of it, with either black hair around it or a black hooded robe’ peering out of it.
Boulton, who took the picture, claimed that there was no one near him at the time and the ‘ghoulish apparition’ in the photo ‘appears in the same spot that the Black Monk is said to regularly stand’ and where Diane Pritchard was reportedly ‘dragged by an invisible hand’.
“We arrived around 7 in the evening and began wandering around the house. I began taking photos like usually do at a new location and I took quite a few of the hallway near the stairs. I was just snapping away at random at the house, not at anything in particular. I took three or four pictures and one was particularly dark so when I got home I put it on the computer to brighten it up. [It was as I brightened it up that] I noticed there was a weird shape in the mirror. No one from the group was downstairs [at the time]. So it couldn’t have been anyone from the group.”https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3799742/Is-picture-Black-Monk-Pontefract-Ghosthunter-captures-chilling-image-house-known-Europe-s-violent-poltergeist-haunting.html (Mail Online, 2016)
Boulton did admit that ‘there’s still a chance it is just pareidolia’, but claimed that he asked other people what they could but didn’t tell them what he had seen and ‘most saw what [he] did’ and with pareidolia people ‘usually see different things’.
EAST DRIVE PARANORMAL GROUP
Paranormal investigator and researcher Claire Cowell reportedly captured an image at 30 East Drive, around 11 pm, in November of 2015, which shows ‘the arm of a ghostly figure in a monk’s robe clutching rosary beads’, which she believes ‘belongs to the violent poltergeist who terrorises the property’s inhabitants’.
Cowell claims that her photo is ‘the most definitive proof the Black Monk still haunts the building’ and said that she had been at the house ‘a few times’ and that on the night she captured this photo her equipment ‘had been active’ and they had ‘seen marbles being thrown and kept hearing taps and bangs’.
“It was the end of the night, about 11pm, and most of the team had already left. There was only me and two other team members left and we were packing up. The other two were in the living room and I went into the kitchen to get a drink but as I did I heard a tap in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs. I thought maybe it could have been another marble so with only the kitchen light on behind me I took a photo, but I couldn’t see anything. I was unaware of what I’d captured until I went back into the living room to tell the team.”https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1942949/ghost-hunters-rosary-beads-black-monk-of-pontefract/ (The Sun, 2016)
Cowell stated that the arm in the photo is ‘not a solid form’ and ‘looks like mist and is very strange but you can see the sleeve of a robe hanging down’. You can also see what looks like rosary beads in the hand ‘dangling down’. The apparition was also captured in the spot where the Black Monk is said to ‘regularly stand’, at the bottom of the stairs.
She also claimed that the image was ‘confirmed by the property’s current owner Bill Bungay to be the best photo he had ever seen of the Black Monk’, and she ‘insists there is no way there could be a more rational explanation for the photo because a mirror in the shot shows no reflection’.
People have said it could be someone stood on the stairs, but I know there was no one else there as the only two other people were in the living room. We tried to recreate the picture by standing in different positions but because the mirror is facing the stairs you would be able to see the reflection in the mirror of anyone stood there. In my picture, there is no reflection.”https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1942949/ghost-hunters-rosary-beads-black-monk-of-pontefract/ (The Sun, 2016)
Cowell also claimed that she sent the photo to a friend in America, without giving her ‘any information about where it was taken or the history of the house’, and that her friend, without knowing anything, said ‘straight away’ that it ‘looked like the arm of a monk’.
OTHER INVESTIGATIONS AND ENCOUNTERS
Common types of activity reported by visitors to the house include ‘foul smells’, disembodied voices, scratches and other physical attacks, unexplained light anomalies, nausea and shadowy figures but Fred’s ‘favourite party trick’ is reportedly ‘moving marbles around’.
The entity will reportedly roll them and throw them, and they will sometimes ‘appear to drop through the ceiling or appear out of thin air’ and some visitors have even claimed to have had marbles ‘appear in their homes and other locations after leaving East Drive’.
The poltergeist will, reportedly, often ‘steal unattended keys’ and on one occasion the house keys were found inside a vacuum cleaner which didn’t work and wasn’t used. Reportedly, the paranormal activity is also not limited to 30 East Drive and neighbours also report the ‘shadowy figure in their gardens’ and have claimed to of experienced ‘mild activity in their homes’.
It’s also claimed that on one occasion the bed in Diane’s old room was destroyed and the room ‘trashed’ at around 4 am on a night when the house was unoccupied and the kitchen has also been found ‘in a state of disarray on occasion’.
Other researchers have claimed to have had ‘similarly bizarre experiences on the property’ and captured ‘numerous instances of the ghost’s voice’ on tape and ‘quite a few pieces of photographic evidence’. Investigators have also expressed ‘shock at the sheer magnitude of sinister paranormal activity at the residence’, with some even claiming that they ‘actually feared for their lives while there’.
The house itself was eventually purchased by Phillip Pritchard and was later sold to the British advertiser and film producer Bil Bungay who has turned it into a ‘sort of macabre tourist destination’. Bungay would also later make the story in a horror film called When The Lights Go Out in 2012, which is ‘loosely based on the real events’ and the film crew reportedly had ‘quite a few paranormal experiences’ while making the movie, which was partly filmed on location. The film was also directed by Jean Pritchard’s nephew Pat Holden who reportedly witnessed many of the incidents first hand.
Reportedly, as the film about the haunting hit cinemas and public interest in the haunting rose, which also sparked ‘numerous visitors to the house’, locals claimed that the Black Monk of Pontefract began to ‘stir again’.
Next-door neighbour at the time, Carol Fieldhouse, said that ‘things started to take a sinister turn shortly after the film was released’, and in a newspaper interview said she had seen Phillip ‘tidying up the front garden’ so she went out and asked him if he’d sold it to one of his nephews. Carol had thought it must have been one of them must have been in the house because she ‘knew they were deaf’ and had heard the ‘telly blasting out all night’ but Phillip that there was no TV in the house and that it was empty. Then he ‘turned pale and said – God, it’s started again’.
A list of recent happenings at the house can be found on the official 30 East Drive website, here and, as of 2017, the house is still owned by Bill Bungay and is still open for bookings, but Ouija Boards, exorcisms and alcohol are all reportedly banned and visitors must sign a waiver.
You can view many of the reportedly paranormal photos taken at 30 East Drive on their official sites page featuring visitor’s images.
THEORIES AND EXPLANATIONS
There have been many allegations that the haunting and poltergeist were a hoax or publicity stunt, or that there was ‘never any haunting at all’. However, the whole town knew of the haunting, and it was witnessed by ‘numerous people, including neighbours, friends, police officers, and at least two priests’
Paranormal investigator Tom Cuniff found, during his research, that the land the house is built on was the site of ‘historical civil battles’ and that the Cluniac monastery hung a monk, for the rape and murder of a young girl in the village, in the 15th century.
“The Cluniac Order was basically the first attempt at monastic reform in the 11th century. To ensure that the formerly independent priories were protected from societal politics, such as participation in the Feudal system, an institutional network was created so that affiliated monasteries reported directly to the Cluny Abbey. One of these houses was established in Pontefract.”https://www.rue-morgue.com/paranormal-pontefract-exploring-the-legacy-of-the-most-violent-haunting-in-britain/ (Rue Morgue, 2018)
Cuniff suggested that the haunting and poltergeist activity could have been caused by ‘residual energy as a result of the volume of violent deaths’ and argued that ‘the gallows at which this punishment was executed was in the immediate vicinity of the house itself’. However, this claim has reportedly been ‘widely disputed’, but the description of the apparitions witnessed by the Pritchards and others refer to the manifestation of a ‘dark, hooded figure’ which, coupled with Cuniff’s research, supports his argument that the malevolent entity in 30 East Drive was the spirit of the hanged monk:
“One morning, Mrs. Mountain [who lived in the adjoining property] was at her kitchen sink when she felt someone standing behind her. She had heard no one come in, and assumed that it was her nephew, who had sneaked in to make her jump. She said something like ‘oh, give over’, and looked around. She found herself looking at a tall figure dressed in a black monk’s habit, with a cowl over the head. Its position prevented her from seeing the face. She told me that it looked quite solid, and that—oddly enough—she felt no fear, only curiosity. Then it vanished.”https://www.rue-morgue.com/paranormal-pontefract-exploring-the-legacy-of-the-most-violent-haunting-in-britain/ (Rue Morgue, 2018)
However, the description doesn’t fit with the ‘agreed definition’ of a poltergeist. In Erin Thompson’s chapter in ‘Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion and Worship in the Horror Film’, focusing on ‘the pattern of supernatural disturbance, possession, and affirmation of faith in The Amityville Horror (1979) and the cinematic dramatization of the events at 30 East Drive, When the Lights Went Out (2012)’, she describes poltergeist activity as follows:
“A notoriously difficult-to-define phenomenon, a poltergeist is most often described as “an unusual form of energy produced most often by a young person,” though “ghosts or demon possession” may function as the root cause (Clarkson, 2011, p. 11). While documented poltergeist attacks have a relatively short duration of approximately one week to three months, instances of poltergeist activity may stem from extreme stress, and include but are not limited to unexplained knocking, electrical outages, pockets of cold temperatures, and unfamiliar voices (Clarkson, 2011, p. 11). Typically, the perception of the poltergeist is of a playful trickster—the entity or energy doesn’t seek to actively harm an individual, but merely create loud attention in an almost childlike fashion. As the manifestation of energy is thought to stem from the presence of a distressed youngster, this perception of a loud but harmless entity persists in dramatic interpretations of alleged cases within popular culture.”https://www.rue-morgue.com/paranormal-pontefract-exploring-the-legacy-of-the-most-violent-haunting-in-britain/ (Rue Morgue, 2018)
The book reportedly documents the Pritchards’ encounters with ‘Fred’ as taking place between August 1966 and mid-1969, which included a period of just over two years in which ‘the phenomenon disappeared completely’. This apparently ‘exceeds the accepted duration of poltergeist activity among researchers’ and the dominant theory in ‘psychical research’ holds that ‘poltergeist activity stems from psychokinesis’ and is ‘generated by a human source’.
“Commonly, poltergeist manifestations are attributed to a hoax instance or the possibility of psychokinetic abilities, also known as PK; PK is thought to be a component of zero-point energy, a theory that states gravity and inertia may be manipulated to propel objects (Clarkson, 2011, pp. 79-81). An individual capable of causing the poltergeist phenomenon is known as an agent, and is typically “an adolescent of above-average intelligence with a low tolerance for frustration, repressing feelings of aggression and hostility… In many, if not most cases there seems to be a buildup of stress, fear, frustration, or anger in a household and/or in the poltergeist agent” (Clarkson, 2011, pp. 82-83). As such, author Michael Clarkson refers to PK as a type of fight-or-flight response called the “emergency fear system,” which displays physical manifestations such as pupil dilation, increased air supply, and heightened concentration—all of which could pave the way for psychokinetic response (2001, pp. 86-87). Clarkson offers that poltergeist phenomena may be relieved via the passage of time, psychotherapy, or the addressing of any stressors that could aggravate the potential agent of such disturbance.”https://www.rue-morgue.com/paranormal-pontefract-exploring-the-legacy-of-the-most-violent-haunting-in-britain/ (Rue Morgue, 2018)
Additionally, the fact that Phillip and Diane ‘appeared to be the focus of the phenomenon during the two periods of activity’ also ‘doesn’t support an argument for psychokinetic ability’.
Colin Wilson also investigated the Black Monk of Pontefract and proposed a theory that poltergeists ‘find their energy in unhappy households and that tensions between Phillip and Mr Pritchard made the home susceptible’. Also, according to Wilson, the area surrounding the Chequerfield Estate ‘favoured manifestations because they contained particular spiritual force from their religious histories’ so the location was ‘key to the poltergeist activity’.
However, The Doncaster Research Group also reportedly looked into the disturbances and concluded that Philip faked the haunting but the haunting has never been conclusively exposed as a hoax.
- Astonishing Legends Episode 117 – The Black Monk of Pontefract Part 1
- Astonishing Legends Episode 118 – The Black Monk of Pontefract Part 2
- Astonishing Legends Episode 119 – The Black Monk of Pontefract Part 3