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Haunted Houghton-le-Spring

THE GHOSTS OF COPT HILL

The Copt Hill Pub

BEERS, WINES & SPIRITS

ENJOY this story on a cold October evening with a slice of warm pumpkin pie and hot cup of cocoa .... and remember, the rustle outside is only the leaves blowing on the autumn wind...

The following article was published in Sign Post in October 2003 and as Haunted Houghton: Heritage Map Vol II in 2004.

Text from this article was also used, but not referenced, in "Haunted Sunderland by Rupert Matthews" ISBN: 9780752446639 Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.


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The Copt Hill Inn, located on the Seaham Road opposite the site of the Seven Sisters Neolithic barrow excavation, is said to be haunted by the tormented spirit of a former landlord who had hung himself in the public bar. Over the years his ghost has been seen by several regulars who all claim that the departed mein host re-enacts his death.

A late night investigating the Copt Hill Pub, Houghton-le-Spring, 2002

Last year [Oct 12th 2002] the pub landlord very kindly allowed my friend, Peter Corfield, and I to spend one cold October night in the bar of the pub to investigate the claims.

Two video cameras and two stills cameras recorded the entire night, collecting hours of footage and images. Several tests were carried out throughout the night in our attempts to prove the existence of a ghost.
Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.


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One test involved filming old coins that had been placed on white paper and drawn around, to see if they had been moved, whilst another test attempted to record voices from beyond the grave with the use of a Dictaphone and the asking of relevant questions. Disappointingly, both of these tests proved negative, however our night in the pub proved to be anything but uneventful.

The coins experiment at the Copt Hill Pub, Houghton-le-Spring, 2002

Throughout the night we experienced a mixture of emotions and body temperatures, ranging from warm and calm to cold and uneasy.

At nineteen minutes past midnight, we were chatting away when suddenly the main internal door into the bar swung open and slammed immediately shut.

The noticeable sound of the slamming door of course made us jump and we can offer no explanation for the incident.
Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.

One of the most spookiest happenings, when my heart missed a beat and the skin on my head tightened, making my hair stick up, was when I saw a ghostly orb rotating around and around. However, on closer inspection, the orb, which I thought was the first stage of a manifestation, turned out to be a spec of dust floating on a warm air current above one of the pub's lamps!


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Peter Corfield exhaling exoplasm at the Copt Hill Pub, Houghton-le-Spring, 2002???

Towards the end of the vigil we experienced feelings of paralysis and extreme coldness and we estimated that we couldn't open our eyes for a period of fifteen minutes.

Was this collective tiredness, a paranormal event or just sheer terror?
Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.

It seems that the Copt Hill area is renowned for paranormal happenings. One local lady told me the following story:

"A few years back, probably about 12 years ago [1990], I had a strange encounter in the Copt Hill area. Every weekend my son and I went to stay with my aunt at Doxford Park and my Dad used to drive us there on a Friday teatime. At night he picked my son and me up as usual and we began the journey from Easington Lane to Doxford Park.

The Seven Sisters trees, Copt Hill, Warden Law, Houghton-le-Spring, Sept 2002

My Dad used to chat away, catching up on news as we drove along the usual route, through Hetton, up Gillas Lane, past the golf club, turning left past the Seven Sisters, and on through Warden Law. My Dad was chatting away as usual and as we approached the Copt Hill pub I saw a man riding a bike on the road in the direction of Seaham. As we approached him my Dad seemed not to notice him and didn't pull over to give the man extra room. I remember shutting my eyes as we passed him, waiting for the impact of a crash yet it didn't happen!
Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.

Heart pounding, I immediately looked in the mirror and saw him peddling away. My Dad was still chatting away and after composing myself, didn't think of it again.

The following Friday we did the journey again. As we passed the Copt Hill, I couldn't believe my eyes, like deja vue, there was the same man in the same place, peddling away in the direction of Seaham. I took no chances and told my talkative Dad to pull over, which he did with a puzzled look.

The Seven Sisters trees, Copt Hill, Warden Law, Houghton-le-Spring

The Friday after, we did the journey again. It was an awful night, cold and raining. My Dad had 2 speeds, slow and stop, and in the rain he went 20 miles an hour. As we past the Copt Hill there was the cyclist, in the same spot, peddling away, wrapped up for the weather with his hood up. We approached him at a slow pace. As we approached him, the event seemed to pass in slow motion and I realised that my Dad wasn't going to pull over and give him room - we were heading straight for him!
Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.

At that point I panicked and clearly remember shouting hysterically "Dad, pull over you're going to hit him". Dad didn't pull over; he just studied the road ahead and said, "Hit who?" At that point it was too late to do anything, we had caught up with him and as we passed him, with an inch of space between him and the car, I looked at him, inches away from me.

He turned his head and I saw that he had no face, there was nothing in the hood - it was just empty!

I heard my Dad's voice in the distance saying, "There's on one else on the road". I shuddered and realised that I had seen an apparition - my Dad hadn't pulled over because he hadn't been able to see him! We did that journey every Friday for a couple of more years. I never saw him again and I didn't tell anyone about it for about two years. To this day, when I pass that spot I always think of that unnerving encounter."

Similar accounts to this one but involving a ghostly hitchhiker on the stretch of the A690 which passes up through Houghton Cut, as well as UFO sightings in this area, suggest that you can never be too careful when out driving at night.Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.


This page is now out of date. The updated and current version can be seen at:
www.houghtonlespring.org.uk/ghosts


 

Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

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Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2009.

If you have ever had a ghostly encounter or know of any Houghton-le-Spring hauntings, please get in touch.

 

 

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