Sitting out over the Thames River, in England, just less than an hour’s drive from the bustling metropolis of London is a place that seems to be of another world entirely. Here lies a scenic expanse of over 400 acres of ancient woodlands, meadows, and grasslands called Langdon Hills Country Park. Here one can take leisurely strolls along placid, meandering trails through prehistoric trees that seem like something that has jumped right off the pages of a fairy tale, and walking amongst these groves it is easy to forget that one is just a stone’s throw away from one of the biggest cities in the world. It is quiet here, a sense of solitude everywhere, with an almost mystical quality pervading the air, and it is this quaint, picturesque charm that draws in visitors from all over, who come to enjoy picnics, hikes, and other outdoor activities. However, what many of these people might not realize is that buried away within those ancient trees is a dark, dank place full of stories of hauntings and supernatural terror, and happens to be one of the most haunted places in the country.
Just adjacent to this park, tucked away well off the trails and overgrown with weeds and brush is a crumbling, domed and arched stone structure jutting up like the ancient ruins of some lost civilization. Within this ruin is a hole set within the stonework, which plunges down into inky blackness as if a pit to the underworld itself, and it is all a very forbidding place to be, permeated by a certain sense pf almost palpable dread. This hole and its structure are called Cash’s Well, and are inextricably linked to the history of the area. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, the area had several water wells that aimed to tap into the rich reserves of mineral water beneath the land here, and one of these wells was first sunk in 1899 at a farm owned by a Mr. King, who found that although the water had a strange taste, when given to cattle it seemed to reinvigorate them and make them noticeably healthier.
Word got out that the mineral water here had medicinal properties, and one of the people very interested in this was a farmer by the name of Edwin Cash. In 1902 he went about sinking his own well near the King farm in the hopes of tapping into this reserve of supposedly miraculous water, eventually deciding to try bottling it and turning it into a money-making venture. To this end, in 1919 Cash sank several more wells around the area to increase output, and began bottling the water in earnest under the name “Vange Water Co. Ltd.” during which time he also heavily advertised that the water had been officially tested and scientifically “proven” to have remarkable medicinal qualities. Before long, Cash’s water was being sold at pharmacies across the region and he was raking in money. Unfortunately, several of these wells collapsed, and another that was dug failed to produce any water at all, causing Cash to keep sinking them. His fifth and final well would be designed with a domed, stone structure almost like a classical temple, supposedly modeled after a pub he owned, and it is this inscrutable structure that still stands today.
Cash would eventually be forced to stop the water business in 1924, allegedly because of fears that the mineral water was being contaminated by run off tainted with tuberculosis from the nearby sanitarium up the hill, after which his wells were left to the elements to collapse and rot away, disappearing altogether into the woods or becoming feral versions of their former glory. The most famous is that domed well, now abandoned, weed choked, and still strewn with shards of glass from its bottling days, known as a testament to the area’s history as a mineral spa, but also accruing quite the reputation for being a cursed and haunted place. Indeed, there are numerous strange tales surrounding this well, and by some accounts it is ground zero for all manner of supernatural strangeness.
The main attraction here is the purported ghost of Cash himself, who supposedly roams the area and does not like visitors. The specter will apparently aggressively chase people or otherwise try to scare them off, and he especially does not seem to like anyone going near his precious well number 5. Other ghosts are said to roam the area as well, including the spirits of children who died at the very sanatorium that put Farmer Cash out of business, which will poke or prod people and even try to hold their hands. Mysterious orbs of light are also frequently seen in the structure or in the surrounding woods, and the list of weirdness at this well is long. One group who has investigated the well and its surroundings extensively is a paranormal research group called Essex Ghost Hunters, and one of its members Russell Old, has described some of the things they have witnessed, telling Essex Live:
We’ve had people’s noses going down that well after being pushed over, and we’ve had the whole group pushed out the door. We’ve had people who come here, do not believe us, and they’ve got their noses touching the floor. People stand there saying ‘why are my hands moving?’ They’re trying to push it down but they can’t, then all the hands are in the air. On the other side through the bushes, it’s a bit sinister, you see a lot of light anomalies. A lot of it is psychological but you’ll get a lot of people who don’t want to stand with their backs to the window or by the door. I can’t say we’ve had any sort of dull nights here.
One of the most ominous phenomena reported from here are inexplicable and very sudden mood swings, which are often described as more like an invasion of the mind by outside forces or an attempted possession than anything else. People have reportedly broken down crying for no reason, been overcome with desperate panic that has sent them running off, and fits of anger or even intense, unbridled rage. Many of these witnesses have explained that they felt as if they were not in control of their own minds, and others still remember nothing of their incidents. Russel Old has said of one intense, frightening experience with a visitor the group brought to the well:
We also had a guy who was seven feet tall, stocky, broad, and he was the nicest guy you’d ever spoken to, but we took him up to the top of the hill and he got so aggressive. The others were telling me that he wasn’t right and he’d never spoken to anyone like that. He was cursing and throwing his arms around, so we had to turn him around. He wasn’t under attack, he was just feeling the energy. We had to talk to him to get him out and all of a sudden he came back to us. He said ‘I just wanted to kill everybody’. You do worry, you could see his hands and he was really containing something.
What is it about this place that makes it so intensely and aggressively haunted? Is it something in the history of this place, or is it in the design of this well or maybe even some quality to the land itself? Or are these just spooky stories surrounding a fairly spooky place? The Essex Ghost Hunters group apparently still gives tours of the park and its well, so maybe the best way to find out for sure is to book yourself a visit and see for yourself. Just be careful out there.