The Hauntings of Gloucester Blackfriars, Gloucestershire

Gloucester Blackfriars was founded in 1239 and the site was built on where there had been a Norman castle. It was a Sir Stephen of Hernhill who had given the land to the holy order, and it became the home and workplace for Dominican monks. These monks were evangelical in how they lived their lives and how they helped the community in and around Gloucestershire.

The timber used in the building came from the Forest of Dean, which were given by the then King Henry III. The king was also said to visit Blackfriars many times but died before the building was consecrated. The monks tended to the poor, sick and needy, whilst undertaking lots of study and evangelising to the public. By the 14th century, there was around 30 to 40 monks living at Blackfriars. 

In 1536, King Henry VIII had ordered the dissolution of the monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England and Wales, and things became near on impossible for those monks living at Blackfriars. It caused poverty and the monks were persecuted. No one was allowed to feed the monks nor to minister them. Only 3 monks remained at Blackfriars and were starved to death as an example to other monks.

The buildings and land were sold to Sir Thomas Bell in 1539 and became his home and another building on the land became a clothing factory. This was to help the preservation of the buildings to what we can see today as many other monasteries were looted and left to rot. It is the most complete Dominican priory to survive.

And here we come to the hauntings!

In the 1960s, Blackfriars became under guardianship and was to be restored. The craftsmen who were employed to carry out the restorations began feeling a bit more involved with the history of the building and a local newspaper reported the ghostly goings on. One of the foremen was pictured holding a skull of one of the monks, which had been discovered buried in the floor of the church nave. The skull had been sliced across with a sharp instrument, showing what possibly led to the death of the monk. It was after this discovery that one of the craftsmen said he had seen the ghostly figure of a monk running from the nave of the church and whose head was bleeding and blood was running down the monk’s face. Another monk figure was seen by the entrance to the church. Could this have been the same monk?

Another craftsmen was up on one of the ceiling beams when something made him look up and he saw the figure of a monk who was stood in an inaccessible place. The figure was then to just disappear. This spooked the craftsmen so much, he abandoned his work until he calmed down from the shock of what he had witnessed.

Many of the men working on the site saw the same bent over figure, as though in prayer in the area that was later to become the kitchen area. Quite a few of the workers who experienced some of the ghostly monk figures would end up quitting their jobs on this site.

One of the previous custodians of Blackfriars said that when he would be quietly doing his paperwork in one of the buildings, he would often hear slow and heavy footsteps from the next floor up. He would note what he’d heard and just carry on working as he had become accustomed to hearing these disembodied footsteps.

These days, you can visit Gloucester Blackfriars, book a private tour or even getting married at the site. Who knows, you might even end up seeing a ghostly figure of a monk too!

Have you had a spooky experience at Gloucester Blackfriars? If you have then please contact me here