Thornton Abbey is only a 15 minute car journey away from where I live. I used to love visiting there when I was a child. It lies in ruins today, but the gatehouse is still intact. On the last Sunday of every month, the doors to the gatehouse would be opened for the public to go inside and explore.

The gatehouse

Now for a little history.. Thornton Abbey was a medieval abbey located close to the small North Lincolnshire village of Thornton.

It was founded as a priory in 1139 by William le Gros, the Earl of Yorkshire, and raised to the status of abbey in 1148. It was a house for Augustinian or black canons, who lived a communal life under the Rule of St Augustine.

The abbey was closed in 1539 by Henry The Eighth as part of the ‘Dissolution of the monesteries’. Thornton was a wealthy and prestigious house valued at the dissolution at the considerable sum of £591 0s 2¾d. It managed to survive by becoming a secular college, until it was closed in 1547.

I always thought the abbey had to be haunted! Although I’ve been there many times and not experienced anything paranormal.

It is said that the abbey is haunted by Thomas de Greetham who was the 14th Abbot of Thornton. He was said to have been a practitioner of the black arts and a dabbler in witchcraft. His crimes against the church didn’t go unpunished.

He was taken to a dark room in the depths of the monastery where he was bricked up alive and left to die alone in the darkness.

A few years ago, his skeleton was found in a little bricked up room along with a book and a candle stick. Imagine that the lack of oxygen didn’t kill him and he had to wait to die of thirst. I bet it was upsetting when the candle burned down to the wick and he had no light left to read.

His apparition has been seen around the grounds of Thornton Abbey or standing in the shadowy corners of the towering gatehouse, where it is not difficult to imagine that dark forces are hard at work.

Thornton Abbey ruins

Ghostly monks and abbots are to be expected and there are a lot of local people who have seen parades of ghostly monks walking around the grounds of the Abbey.

Some people have seen other ghostly shapes that didn’t quite fit in with the history such as ghost children and women in white. It wasn’t until 2013 that these ghostly sightings could be explained.

Archaeological work by the University of Sheffield began in 2011. In 2013, excavations of a natural mound to the south of the inner precinct wall identified a feature that turned out to be a mass grave. In 2016, DNA was successfully extracted and it tested positive for Yersinia pestis which is the bacterium responsible for the plague.

Remains of plague victims discovered in the grounds of Thornton Abbey

Thornton Abbey was home to a plague pit! All those times as a kid I explored the grounds, completely unaware that beneath my feet was the remains of plague victims.

I only recently learned about the archaeological dig. It’s been years since I visited Thornton Abbey, so as soon as it opens again, I’m definitely going back!

8 thoughts

  1. Fascinating history with great photographs. I am very interested in the paranormal on account of the visions I had often as a child. Mostly, I saw a shadow man standing by my bedside in the dead of night. He would bend up and down repeatedly at his waist. There were no discernible features to his face, so far as I could observe when he lowered his face closer to mine. Then, there was the bluish ghost figure who stood just beyond my open bedroom door. He would poke around the corner repeatedly to look into my bedroom. The fear was palpable, and I suppose my interest in reading and writing horror stories is rooted in these dark and strange occurrences. I was a personal acquaintance of a world renown psychic in the years before she died, and so I know how helpful readings can be in guiding a person’s life. Ultimately, as you well said, the future is ours to fashion, but knowing where fate has her hand in affairs can be helpful in providing clarity of purpose and resolve. I am happy to have discovered your blog and look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very interesting! I saw similar things as a child. It’s hard to say if it was night terrors or sleep paralysis, I’m sure it was the same for you but I’d see these things before falling asleep which rules out sleep paralysis. When did you stop seeing these entities?

      Thank you very much for reading my blog. I enjoy your poetry, very magical 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to awaken in the middle of the night – usually at the witching hour – and would watch these dark entities while fully awake. Because I experienced sleep paralysis a few times, I was aware of the difference. I recall for a period of a month or so I awoke every night at exactly 3:00 AM. I did not always see anything, but the fact that I awoke at that exact time, regardless of when I went to sleep, made an impression on me at the time. I stopped seeing these dark entities when I moved out of my grandmother’s house while attending law school. Thank you so much for your compliment of my poetry. I hope you will continue to read my blog from time to time, as I surely will read yours.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Ah so they were at your grandmother’s house, did she have any paranormal experiences? I tend to agree with the theory that children can see ghosts more easily.. Anyway thank you and I’ll continue to read your poetry 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think that my grandmother did sense them, though she never directly said so. The most compelling incident happened after my grandmother had succumbed to a very debilitating stroke. She would be bedridden without the ability to speak or to eat on her own for four years. During that time, her close sister died. My brother and I wrestled with whether we should tell her, since we really did not know what she would understand and did not want her to feel more sorrowful than she must have felt being in her incapacitated state. When we approached her that evening she spoke for the first time in years (and it turns out would be the last time). She asked in a soft whisper how it is that her sister had visited her that afternoon. That was after her sister had died. I do not recall what we said to her then, if anything.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wow that’s a wonderful story! I think that apart from children and animals, those who are closer to death are also more in tune with the other world. I hope seeing her sister was a comfort to her. It must have been a sad time for you and your family, but it must have also been nice for her to see her sister.

        Liked by 1 person

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