The Black Monk of Pontefract is known as the most violent haunting in all of United Kingdom. It occurred a decade before the Enfield and Amityville cases and eventually became overshadowed by the two infamous events.
At the center of the Blank Monk haunting was the Pritchard family composing of Jean and Joe Pritchard, their 15-year-old son Philip, and 12-year-old daughter Diane. The entire incident occurred in the small town of Pontefract, located in East Yorkshire, England. For close to five years, the Pritchards were subjected to unimaginable torture at the hands of a sinister entity.
The Black Monk of Pontefract
The year was 1966 and the Pritchard family had just moved into their new estate in Number 30 East Drive. Little did they know, the area was once the site of the town gallows.
The poltergeist, which would later earn the name Black Monk of Pontefract, almost immediately began disturbing the Pritchard family after they moved in. Reports of sudden temperature drops, lights turning off, furniture overturning, objects levitating, unexplained knocks, foul smells, heavy breathing sounds, and an apparition of a mysterious black-robed figure surfaced, causing a lot of tension between the family.
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Despite the fact that the police, local MP, and the vicar were all able to witness the supernatural events happening, the Pritchard family was met with mockery by the townspeople.
The first signs of haunting
The first sign of haunting began in August 1966 during the August Bank Holiday week. The whole family was on a vacation in Devon and left 15-year-old Phillip at home with his grandmother Sarah Scholes.
When Philip left Sarah alone in the house, she felt a sudden gust of wind. As soon as Philip reentered the home, he couldn’t help but notice a white powder fall from mid-air and scatter around the living room. This was strange for Philip because he couldn’t find the source of this powdery material. The house had just been redecorated, so there was no way that this was old debris.
Both Philip and Sarah were confused by what was happening around them. Philip’s aunt Marie Kelly, who lived nearby, visited the house to investigate what was going on. When she entered the kitchen to pick up cleaning materials, she slipped on a pool of water that had formed on the floor. To her surprise, there were numerous puddles of water that were coming from nowhere.
A neighbor by the name of Enid Pritchard came over to help. She tried to shut down all possible sources, but it made no difference and the mysterious pools of water kept reappearing. The family finally reported the incident to the town’s Water Board who told them that they would be sending someone to investigate the matter.
When the man from the Water Board arrived, he examined the pipes and concluded that it could be due to condensation. Curiously, he left without getting any proper evidence. He then reported the findings to his manager, and the pools of water suddenly stopped appearing.
But later that evening, Philip shouted for his grandmother and informed her that the pools were appearing again. Only this time, the kitchen counter was littered with sugar and dry leaves as well. Sarah felt a cold chill in the air, and as her eyes shifted to the tea dispenser, she and Philip noticed that the button of the machine was slowly turning off and on several times.
Sarah, now shaken by the events that were happening, screamed, “Stop it!” As soon as she did, there was a loud crash on the hallway. They cautiously followed the sound only to discover that there was no one there.
The pair slowly made their way around the house to see if there were any intruders around. To their astonishment, one of the plants that sat at the foot of the stairs was now fastened halfway up and uprooted from its pot. As if this was not terrifying enough, they heard another loud bang from the kitchen.
Upon investigation, they saw with their own eyes the china cabinet vibrating like someone was struggling to get out of it. As soon as Philip opened the door, the violent shaking stopped while another loud banging noise surfaced from another area in the house.
After finally deciding to call for help, Sarah called Marie Kelly again. She was able to witness the shaking cabinet and the violent rattling of cups and plates. The group then asked their neighbors if they were the ones making all the commotion. Oddly enough, the couple responded with the words “We thought it was you!”
When the strange events simmered down, a traumatized Sarah, Marie Kelly, and Philip discussed everything that just transpired. Kelly left the house around 9:30 p.m., hoping that it was all over—but that was far from reality.
As soon as Sarah wished Philip good night, a heavy chest of drawers began to dangerously sway on its own. That was it for Sarah and Philip, they left the house and went to sleep at a neighbor’s place out of fear that whatever was haunting the home will be out to get them too.
Paranormal activity intensifies in the Pritchard home
As soon as Jean, Joe, and Diane returned from the holiday, the house became strangely peaceful. The couple decided that Philip and Sarah’s story was nothing but an exaggerated tale, especially since they never encountered anything out of the ordinary for the next two years.
However, the poltergeist, which the family would later name as Fred, came back with a burning vengeance. The entity refused to leave the Pritchard home and did everything in its power to drive the human inhabitants away instead.
Unfortunately, the main target was the youngest child, Diane. The girl was often shoved off her bed, and in one occasion, she was dragged up the stairs by her throat. Whatever was dragging her left lacerations that were visible around her neck.
Loud, unexplained sounds continued to resonate around the house. The poltergeist did not even seem too shy about doing these horrific acts in front of guests. Objects went flying around and crashed in two separate events where the family attempted an exorcism.
The exorcisms only seemed to agitate the situation even further. Graffiti of upside-down crosses began appearing on the living room walls and doors, and all of the family’s religious materials ended up broken.
The Black Monk of Pontefract reveals itself
Joe and Jean Pritchard were the first in the family to see the Black Monk. It got its name after the couple’s terrifying description of the entity: a terrifying, cloaked shadow that bore no human features.
The manifestation happened while Joe and Jean lay in bed. A black-cloaked figuring hovered over them as they lay paralyzed in fear. It soon dissolved into midair before their eyes. Other family members and house guests reported seeing the figure too, and as abrupt as the haunting began, it ceased and never occurred again.
The Recurrence of the Poltergeist
According to author Tom Cuniff, the poltergeist that tormented the Pritchard family was actually a sixteenth-century monk, who was accused of raping and murdering a girl. He was soon hung under the orders of Henry VIII in the same area that the Pritchard resided.
The haunting of number 30, East Drive was the subject of director Pat Holden‘s 2012 horror film, When the Lights Went Out. The haunting hit close to home as Jean Pritchard was Holden’s aunt, and he was able to witness many of the incidents himself.
After so many years of being out of the headlines, the Black Monk of Pontefract began to attract public interest yet again. Numerous visitors have flocked to the site in hopes of witnessing something paranormal. The abandoned property was then sold to the film’s producer, Bil Bungay, who eventually gave it up after hearing strange noises.
To this day, the empty estate in East Drive remains open for bookings. However, the use of Ouija boards and exorcisms is strictly prohibited.