Following is a short excerpt from Extraordinary Places...Close to London.
The Guinness Book of World Records (1998) has Pluckley in Kent, England, as being “the most haunted village in the country.” There are perhaps 12-16 ghosts that are said to appear in and around the village depending on who is telling the tale, but the village has a rich history beyond the ghosts. At least 50 men from the village participated in the Jack Cade Rebellion of 1450 when the rebels, unhappy with the taxes imposed upon them, met with King Henry VI and their leader, Jack Cade. Most men were later pardoned for their involvement and returned to the village unharmed but others were hung, drawn and quartered. In 1610, two local men, Martin Davye and Thomas Fell had an argument that spilled into the churchyard. Davye struck Fell who later died of his injuries. Davye was charged with murder but claimed “benefit of clergy” which meant that he could read and write Latin and was therefore considered an educated man. Because of this claim, the sentence was reduced to manslaughter.
Pluckley has been the home of many influential and powerful families over the centuries, from the Tilman’s who left for America to the Bettenhams and Dering families. The Betttenham and Dering families had a long-standing disagreement concerning the ownership of the coat of arms that was displayed in the church. Each family had a crest depicting a saltire (an x-shaped animal barricade) as the emblem. Both families claimed theirs was the original design and they fought bitterly over the issue for years. Another conflict arose because both families wanted to sit in the most important pew in the church. On one occasion, physical violence broke out between two women from the respective families and Rector John Copley had to intervene.