Clophill Old Church, Bedfordshire

The old ruined Church of St. Mary, standing high above the village of Clophill, is one of Bedfordshire's most interesting ancient sites. The church is relatively recent, only dating to the 1600s (on the site of an older structure) but it was abandoned after only 200 years of use.

Local folklore tells us that the church was built the wrong way around - so facing away from God instead of towards him. It is said this forced the building to become a holy building for Satan instead of God. Another possible reason for abandonment was that it is said to have been constructed over a medieval leper colony. The most likely explanation is the slog up the hill from the village needed to worship.

Either way by 1848 a new church was built in the village centre. In 1956 the church roof lead was stolen and the church was allowed to fall into ruin.

In 1963 Clophill's now ruined church began to live up to its dark reputation. The grave of an apothecary's wife, Jenny Humberstone, was broken into and the bones arranged in the nave of the church in a "ritualistic formation". The same thing happened six years later and again in 1975.

The church is now famed for ghosts - a monk, a chilly feel and a faint light moving up the hill which vanishes when it reaches the church.

The church stands on a popular long distance footpath, and there is some talk of creating an overnight stopover near the church which would certainly put an end to any more attempted Satanic rituals at this atmospheric, but still rather neglected ruin.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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