2 Feb 2012
Abbots Langley resident claims to see ghost in Royal Oak car park
10:02am Thursday 2nd February 2012
When radio presenter Darren Fernando drifted off to sleep after a quiet evening at home, he had no inkling that a few hours later he would have “a paranormal experience”.
But that is exactly what the Abbots Langley resident claims to have had, when he was awoken by the sound of horses’ hooves and a rattling carriage in the early hours of a Sunday morning.
The 35-year-old father said: “Out of my window I saw two horses and a carriage riding towards The Royal Oak pub car park in Kitters Green. It was a really old-fashioned carriage, Victorian I would guess.
“I remember the time clearly, 4.02am, because I’ve got a clock beside my bed and I thought how strange, that horses and a carriage would be riding at that time.
“I was worried that I was having a weird dream, so I did pinch myself.
“I sleep with my window open so heard the sound distinctly, and although it was dark outside, it was the distinctive grey colour of the horses that really stood out.
“I could also smell a sweet burning smell - it was really distinctive, the only time I’ve smelt it before was when the pub has its burners on.”
When he returned to the window moments after making a cup of tea, the carriage and horses had disappeared, without making any sound.
Mr Fernando said he was convinced he had seen a ghost.
When the Watford Observer contacted The Royal Oak pub asking to see if they had a horse and carriage at the time of the incident or any CCTV footage of the “apparition”, the initial response was disbelief.
But when landlord Lee West played CCTV film from Sunday, January 22, it appeared that Mr Fernando’s claim may not be unfounded.
Mr West said: “I thought it was a load of old nonsense, but I can’t believe it.
“At first you see a quiet car park, but at 4.02am exactly, that suddenly changes. You can see something, it looks like a box and an animal, perhaps a horse, moving its head.
“There is no doubt that there’s something there.
“The old chef who worked here refused to stay at night because he was frightened of the place. He said he’d seen a face at the window and heard someone crying. But I didn’t really give it much thought.”
The pub dates back about 400 years and in its car park, stands an old coach house which Mr West said could have been used for horses and carriages in the past.
Landlady Jane Courteney said she had been told the pub had been the site of Hangman's Cottage, where hangings took place, but members of Abbots Langley Local History group have disputed this, saying The Royal Oak has always served as a pub in the village.
But given the latest sighting, said they would investigate whether it had been used for anything else, particularly as the nearby Gallows Hill was said to have been used for hangings.
Meanwhile head of the village’s paranormal group, Glynn Pope, said he was not surprised about the sighting, particularly given the nature of the village’s rich history.
He said: “Abbots Langley goes back hundreds of years, so it’s not unusual that someone has claimed to have seen a ghost.
“Our group has done a lot of work in the Leavesden Hospital grounds and using EVP (electronic voice phenomena) has picked up what we believe to be the voices of former patients.
“Given how old the Royal Oak is, I’m not surprised that there have been these sightings - what would be interesting now would be to find out is if it’s a hoax, a complete haunting, or if in fact a ghost that revisits at that date and time every year.”