The Black Monk of Pontefract

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The Black Monk of Pontefract (also referred to as The Pontefract Poltergeist) is an alleged poltergeist haunting that occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the home of Joe and Jean Pritchard on 30 East Drive Chequerfield Estate in Pontefract.


Disturbances allegedly began after the Pritchard family moved into their home in the town of Pontefract. Sarah Scholes said she felt a cold gust of wind. Phillip Scholes says he saw white powder falling from mid-air in the living room floor. According to paranormal book author Colin Wilson, puddles of water began appearing on the kitchen floor and a plumber could not offer an explanation. Wilson writes that Mrs. Scholes and her son Phillip left the home to sleep at a neighbour's out of fear when a heavy chest of drawers reportedly began swaying. According to Wilson, the disturbances stopped for two years, but began again. The family claimed to hear loud crashing sounds and see objects moving or dematerializing.

Wilson writes that Pritchard's daughter Diane was often thrown from her bed and once dragged up the stairs by "an invisible hand that left lacerations on her neck." There were also claims that after holy water was sprinkled throughout the home, the poltergeist "responded" by painting upside-down crosses on the living room walls and doors and destroying crucifixes. Joe and Jean Pritchard claimed that a black-cloaked figure with a cowl over its head appeared over their bed.[1]

Paranormal investigators[edit]

Paranormal investigator Tom Cuniff visited the Pritchard home after the alleged disturbances ceased and speculated that the ghost of a Cluniac monk who lived during Henry VIII's reign and was hanged for the rape and murder of a young girl had haunted the Pritchards.[2]

Paranormal book author Colin Wilson proposed that poltergeists find their energy in unhappy households and that tensions between Phillip and Mr. Pritchard made the home susceptible. The area surrounding the Chequerfield Estate, according to Wilson, favoured "manifestations" because they retained "particular spiritual force" from their religious histories.

Pontefract Castle[edit]

Pontefract Castle near the Chequerfield Estate is a popular tourist destination, both because of its rich history (King Richard II is thought to have been murdered there), and because of the reported sightings of a black monk walking from the kitchen to the Queen's Tower.[3]

Popular culture[edit]

  • The 2012 film When the Lights Went Out was reportedly fashioned after the story of the Black Monk of Pontefract.[4] [5] Director Pat Holden said he considers Jean Pritchard to be his aunt, according to issue 293 of the Fortean Times in the article "Shooting The Lights Out".


  1. ^ Wilson, Colin (1981). Poltergeist! A study in destructive haunting. London: New English Library. ISBN 0450054527. 
  2. ^ Proud, Louis. "Poltergeists Attack!". Fate Magazine. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Bloody Pomfret". BBC. March 2005. Retrieved 31 July 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. ^ "When The Lights Went Out". IMDB. Retrieved 31 July 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  5. ^ Mitchell, Wendy. "Revolver takes UK rights to When The Lights Went Out From SC Films". Screen Daily. Retrieved 31 July 2012.