The British Isles are full of dark and creepy places, plagued with sightings of those spirits who have been unable, or unwilling, to leave the realm of the living.
Perhaps one of the more sinister of these locations is number 30 East Drive, Pontefract, a deceptively ordinary looking family home in Yorkshire.
However, within the walls of this 1950s era semi-detached lurks one of the most infamous, and vicious, poltergeists of all time: The Black Monk of Pontefract.
I spoke with Ghost Quest, a group of young paranormal investigators who approach ghost hunting from a skeptical perspective; attempting to explain creepy happenings with more earthly explanations before jumping to any ghostly conclusions.
You can watch Ghost Quest’s night of terror at the property below, but perhaps not while you are alone:
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Based in Yorkshire themselves, it was inevitable their spooky search would eventually lead them to number 30 East Drive.
But what is it that evokes such terror at the mere mention of this property? More so than any crumbling castle or isolated country mansion?
As the story goes, the unholy monk began to stir in the late 1960s, menacing the Pritchard family from beyond the grave. He destroyed crucifixes and slapped people across the face; creating gruesome smells in his wake.
Dubbed ‘Fred’ by the Pritchards, the ghost often pulled humorous pranks; pouring milk over a skeptical aunt and donning a pair of fur gloves to mockingly conduct hymns sung during futile exorcisms.
However, his behaviour became increasingly malevolent, and it was soon clear this was no friendly lost soul. In a particularly frightening incident, the Pritchard’s teenage daughter, Diane, was dragged violently up the stairs; leaving lacerations on her throat.
Diane was also shoved from her bed on multiple occasions, leading many to believe the phantom had fixated on the young girl in particular.
Is it absolutely mental that I want to stay overnight at 30 East Drive, Pontefract (the most haunted house in Britain)? Probably tbh
— Georgia. (@georgiacinnamon) February 23, 2018
The parents of the house, Joe and Jean, claim to have witnessed a horrifying figure clothed in black monk’s robes floating above their bed. This was the first indication the spirit had been a monk when living.
Matters took an even more ominous turn when the blackhearted monk’s origin story was apparently revealed. No longer could he be jokingly dismissed as just ‘Fred.’
Paranormal investigator Tom Cuniff researched the case in depth, and found the town’s gallows had once been situated just across the road from Number 30 East Drive.
Cuniff concluded the apparition was a Clunaic monk from the local priory, who had lived during the reign of Henry VIII. This monk had hanged for the rape and murder of a teenage girl; making the obsession with Diane even more insidious.
Check out the trailer for the horror film inspired by the eerie happenings below, called When the Lights Went Out (2012):
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The house has since become something of a pilgrimage for paranormal investigators.
Although exorcisms and ouija boards are strictly prohibited at the property – so as not to ‘exacerbate the situation’ – curious ghost hunters continue to experience the foreboding presence of this hellish monk.
Personally, no mortal sum of money would be enough to tempt me over that shadowy threshold. But there are some plucky individuals with the stomach to take on The Black Monk Of Pontefract.
I spoke with 24-year-old Ben, a camera operator for Ghost Quest. With a lifelong enthralment with the paranormal, he has been looking for ghosts for a number of years.
His findings so far have led him to believe there is something out there, walking among us long after their physical remains have crumbled to dust.
Ben told UNILAD what made this deceptively hum-drum house so unusual:
30 East Drive is an interesting location. It is a must on any investigators checklist as the stories and activity people have reported to have had experienced in that building is phenomenal.
The strangest aspect of it for me was, in all honesty, how original the house is. It is still stuck in a time period of a bygone age.
That’s what I found the strangest. Paranormal-wise, I found it strange because why would a spirit be haunting this ordinary house and on such a great scale. This made us look into the history of the land the house sits on.
Ben also discussed some of the strange happenings which occurred the night of the team’s visit, some which are genuinely shudder-inducing:
We had knocking on a door that was in front of us and it was doing it on command. That was pretty incredible, we searched all around the door to look for a logical explanation but we couldn’t find one.
Craig had a figure walk up on him captured on the SLS camera. The structured light sensor camera used an Xbox Kinect. It fires millions of small dots out into the room and maps back what it sees.
In this case it was a figure actually walking towards him with leg movements and everything which is the best capture we have ever had with it.
There was also creaking floorboards and footsteps upstairs. Whether they were explainable as next door or not is debatable. We didn’t include it in the episode for that very reason.
As none of the team are spiritual mediums – their focus is on evidence gathering through audio and video recording – Ben feels it would be impossible to speculate as to the nature of the infamous ghoul.
However, he was able to offer UNILAD his own opinion on the notorious resident:
I’m not going to claim the property is haunted and I’m not going to say it’s not either.
There is something there for sure in my opinion, but if it’s dark and malevolent or not I wouldn’t be able to say.
The way I look at it is, the spirit that haunted the Pritchards, seems very dark and sinister.
And what some people still witness is exactly that. So it very well could be! The thing with 30 East Drive is, that it’s down to luck.
Some days the spirits want to cause havoc and frighten people to death, and others the place is eerily quiet. We had it somewhere in the middle.
Fearless Ben even spent seven hours being the only waking person in the house with his fellow investigators having fallen fast asleep.
While a wuss such as myself would be paralysed with fear at this prospect, Ben whiled away the hours packing the equipment away and tidying the house.
I would just like to thanks all my family and friends for my birthday cards and gifts, and can't wait for my ghost hunt tonight at 30 east drive pontefract ??
should come to england and do 30 east drive pontefract west yorkshire
— emma (@emmacann1982) January 26, 2018
Well, that’s me sleeping with all the lights on tonight…
For more spookiness, you can watch the footage in its entirety here.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.