I've often been fascinated by strange tales of reputed animal ghosts throughout Bromley, especially those concerning phantom horses, writes author of Haunted Bromley Neil Arnold.
In the 1920s a young girl, whilst walking with her mother on Kingswood Road, got the shock of her life when they both observed a black shape moving across a field in the distance.
However, when the peculiar dark object was upon the frightened witnesses it took the form of a ghostly horse with spectral mount.
In 1972 the young girl, now an older woman, recalled: “As it passed us, we saw to our great astonishment the clearly-defined upper parts of a horse – as if seen above the top of a high hedge – bearing a rider on its back who wore the traditional tricorne hat, and the hair in a queue.
“The apparition had no legs and made not the slightest sound. It raced away, across the pavement and disappeared into the fence of what was then Oak Lodge, home of the Darrell family…”
This must've been a rather ghastly sight but not as horrifying as the phantom coach and horses which was said to have terrified a Beckenham family in the 1960s.
The Betts family had several sightings of the coach and four, leaving Albert Betts to report:
“...there was a bump in the night. I saw our ghost crashing through the greenhouse…he ruined my chrysanthemums.”
Some may argue that the incident was a hoax, but around the same time a man named Reg Filmer had been walking his dog in the area when he heard the ghostly coach and its equally phantasmal horses.
He said: “I heard the noise of horses and wheels. It got closer and closer, but I could see nothing.”
A phantom white horse had once been recorded from Pickhurst Hill too, with one witness claiming it crossed an orchard in the dead of night.
My favourite Bromley-related ghost horse story comes from Hayes where it was once said that a phantom horseman rode.
The story dates back from around the 1920s and is said to be the spectre of a Mr Goodhart of Beckenham, who erected a 12-foot high monument in memorial to his horse, and it is said that on certain nights he is now seen riding his phantasmal stallion.
The ghost is said to vanish in the region of the Park Langley golf course. Imagine the reactions of some of those keen golfers upon seeing such an arresting sight.
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