The Ghost of St Michaels and All Angels church

Highworth, Wiltshire

The church of St Michaels and All Angels is in Highworth, Wiltshire and there's been many times I've been in a traffic queue at the traffic lights so had the chance to look towards the church building and graveyard. I've always felt a presence there. It was on the last 2 occasions, I actually saw a figure, which looked male but it had no features, darting around the headstones, it looked similar to a shadow but a shadow made of metal filings as the movements of it were fluid yet it kind of stayed together but the hands and arms were slower to catch up with the main part. I suppose it's like having all those metal filings but using a magnet to direct those filings.

Whilst I've been researching for this blog, I thought I'd look up the church to see if it has a history of anything paranormal being seen and it has! So I'll share these encounters with you.

It was in 1907, on Friday 5th April when a young man, J. Graham Arkell was in the church. He had his younger brother (15), his sister (18) and also a friend (18) Miss Ludlow. They were all gathered around the church organ, with one of them playing the organ and all were singing, when Miss Ludlow, with a raised voice, said "Oh look! Whatever is that?" As they all turned to where Miss Ludlow was staring, they all saw a figure of a man, standing just by the church door and leaning in as though to hear the singing more clearly. All of these witnesses described how the face of the figure had a featureless grey blank look to it but more disturbingly, where the eyes should've been, there were sunken dark shadows. According to J. Graham Arkell, the others turned away in fright but he kept staring at the figure. He said the figure went over to the pillar and hid behind it but the movement of its arms were jerky. it had then just disappeared.

There had been one other person in the church at this time and she had been decorating the font, just by the door in which this figure had been seen. This person had seen nothing. It was 11.30am on a bright, sunny April morning and the doors had been open, letting sunlight into the church so the figure couldn't have been confused with a person walking into the building.

The SPR (Society of Psychical Research) took a statement from all those who had experienced this figure, less than a week of it happening and all witnesses signed the statement made and J Graham Arkell said his statement didn't give the intensity of the experience that was had by all. It was 30 years later, in 1938, that J Graham Arkell confirmed the accuracy of his statement and then local vicar of when the incident happened, commented that if this had been a hoax, the lady decorating the church at the time would have not been in on it.

In 1936, Mr Ivor Hawkins, a verger of the church, also saw an apparition in the church in September at around 7.45pm. He said he had unlocked the church for the session of choir practice at 8pm. As he turned round to close the door, he saw a figure coming up the centre aisle and it went through some curtains near the west end door. It didn't part the curtains, it just seemed to walk straight through them. Mr Hawkins said he hadn't yet turned the lights on in the church but there were the outside street lights, which gave the building a low light. He was unable to make out any features but he did say the figure was of medium height and dressed in a long white robe of sorts. He also mentions there was no noise coming from the figure and that it also appeared to glide along rather than have the motion of walking.

There have been other reports of a phantom figure that's seen in the churchyard. Witnesses have stated that the figure moves from one window to the next, peering in then rushing off, as though it was trying to see something in the church but unable to enter the building. Others have said it has no face with just 2 dark patches where the eyes should be. One witness described the figure's face as resembling a large pile of dust from a vacuum cleaner.