Jul 01, 2022 I Brent Swancer

The Weird Case of the Most Haunted Cottage in England

England, with its long and often tumultous history, is absolutely filled to the brim with haunted places. Haunted houses, pubs, streets, buildings, and many others are seemingly a dime a dozen here, but some truly stick out as particularly imbued with strange forces. Loews Cottage is a rather unassuming structure that sits out in the countryside of Mayfield, in Staffordshire, England, and there is not much remarkable about it other than that it is a historic 250-year-old farmhouse. The house had been in disrepair for some time before Andrew and Josie Smith bought it in May of 1994, and moved in with their children Daniel, Stephen and Lindsey, hoping to renovate it and make it into sort of their dream home. The charming little house had no known violent past that they knew of, the location was peaceful and quiet, and the couple looked forward to their new placid life on the farm, but things were about to go from a dream to nightmare, and so would be born what has gone on to be called the most haunted cottage in England.

It started, as these things tend to, with small, inexplicable occurrences. Things would go missing or turn up in places they had no business being, lights would turn on or off by themselves, and unexplainable cold chills would suddenly pass through rooms out of nowhere. The Smiths at first tried to explain these things away, and did not immediately think that they were necessarily paranormal in nature, but this would change when one day Andrew was in his study and his typewriter suddenly began to vibrate with increasing intensity until it flew clear off the table right before his eyes. After this, the strange activity would graduate to strange horrible smells that seemed to come up from out of nowhere, objects that would move or fly off of shelves, covers that were pulled off the bed as they slept, loud music would suddenly blare out of thin air, and strange fogs or mists that would materialize from nowhere to move from room to room. On several occasions water was seen to run from walls or pool on the floor, only to vanish and leave the surface dry within minutes. It was now very apparent to the Smiths that they were in a haunted house, and this was only further emphasized when Josie was in the kitchen alone one day and saw the apparition of a young girl in a blue dress standing there in the corner staring at her. 

Things got even more frightening as the days went on. The Smiths began to see ominous shadow figures lurking about in the home that would sometimes even approach them to make physical contact, poking, pushing and prodding them and in one case lifting up Josie’s dress. One evening Josie was terrified to wake up to the sensation of hands around her neck, which tightened their grip on her as if strangling her, even though no one else was in the room with her at the time, and another time she woke up pinned to the bed by an unseen entity. Andrew had a horrifying experience of his own when he allegedly was suddenly surrounded by a thick fog that made it seem as if he were moving underwater, and he would claim that he had sensed an evil presence there in the fog with him. He claims that he had then felt a pressure building up in the house and in his head, reaching an almost unbearable intensity and threatening to make him lose consciousness, before suddenly stopping as the fog abruptly dissipated as if it had never been there. In addition to these menacing shadow figures and the little girl in the blue dress, other bizarre apparitions would be seen as well, including a bound and naked woman, a little boy with bright red “piggy eyes,” and a woman in 19th century clothing

Alarmed by these increasingly sinister supernatural events, the Smiths asked the previous owners they had bought the house from, two sisters by the names of Susan Melbourne and Sandra Podmore, only to be told that the structure had no history of paranormal activity that they wwreaware of. Not fully believing this, they then did their own research into the history of the old house, learning that back in the 1860s a milkmaid named Elaine Harring had been murdered there and stashed in the cellar, after which her lover, Joseph Phillips, had hung himself at the house in grief. This revelation certainly explained a lot for them, and they brought in a Reverend Mockford, who would perform five exorcisms at the property and witness much of this paranormal activity himself. Among the various strangeness he experienced there were the walls weeping water, a bright light that filled one of the rooms, and on one occasion his bowl of holy water filled with a vile-smelling fog. None of these exorcisms worked, and the Smiths went about making plans to move out.

They soon encountered some hurtles in selling their house, as the hauntings had scared away potential buyers and reduced the building's selling price by £50,000, prompting them to file a lawsuit against the previous owners for failing to tell them about the history and paranormal activity there. The sisters denied that the house was or had ever been haunted, and the case went to court, sparking a media frenzy that made national news. In the end, despite the testimony of the priest and others who had witnessed paranormal events at the house, the judge dismissed the case, saying “This house is not haunted and it never has been haunted.” The Smiths would move out and the house would be bought in 1999 by a man named Tim Chilton, who also would soon have some strange experiences of his own there. He has said of it:

During my first night in Lowes Cottage, I started to have some sympathy for my predecessors. My collie, Syon, was uneasy entering the house and found it hard to settle. Lights switched on and off, there were sudden changes in temperature and my TV would turn itself on. There were further incidents. I was visited by reporters who experienced problems with tape recorders or cameras. I remembered the agent who had forbidden filming when I first visited, and when mysterious patches of glistening moisture started forming on walls, I recalled the vicar’s description of a “weeping wall”. It felt almost as if Lowes Cottage had a personality and was testing me in some way. The place seemed capable of changing moods, though I never had any sense of a malignant entity. I later got to meet the Smiths and found them to be solid and authentic people. After a while, Syon seemed to make peace with the house, and the perplexing incidents stopped. I spent a happy four years at the cottage before renting it out. Only one of the tenants has reported anything unusual.

What is going on with this place? Is it it permeated with supernatural forces or is this all just spooky lore? No one has really seemed to have reported anything unduly strange since, although the cottage still remains and still retains its title as the most haunted cottage in England. Whatever the case may be here, it is nonetheless a curious oddity that fits well within England's vast history of haunted locales. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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