Welcome to the Blog for West Malling Local Shops part of the Local Shops brand. Find articles and posts relating to West Malling in Kent. Visit our website, Facebook and Twitter too all of which share lots of local information and promote community events and other news from West Malling and the surrounding area. An up to date listing of shops and local businesses and latest news. Thank you for your interest. www.west-malling.local-shops.co.uk
As the nights draw in and Halloween approaches, it seems the
perfect opportunity for a few spooky stories and terrifying tales about the
ghosts we are said to roam amongst us in West Malling.
In a town as ancient as
West Malling, with its rich history and medieval buildings, it’s no surprise to
find reports of ghostly sightings and frightening phenomena. Whether you take
them seriously or simply see them as a bit of fun in the lead up to Halloween is
entirely up to you.
The town of West Malling grew around Malling Abbey, now St.Mary’s Abbey, which was established by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester around
Despite the fact that the abbey has largely been occupied by Benedictine
nuns, a surprisingly large number of West Malling ghosts appear to be monks. In
the abbey itself the ghost of a monk was seen by a cleaner, walking towards her
on a different level from the floor she was cleaning. He actually knocked over
her bucket of water as he reached her and she ran away in terror.
In a sixteenth-century hall that was built on the site of
ancient Abbey buildings, and is now Frank’s Mussel Bar, a ghostly monk has been
seen sitting upstairs at a writing desk. The same ghost has been seen on
several occasions walking across the bedroom of the building next door. Another
ghostly monk has been seen further along the High Street, in the upstairs wine
bar of the building that was Mackenzines and we believe is soon to be The
Hungry Guest. The owner was just closing the bar at night when the apparition materialised
and walked across the room. It was later discovered that the fireplace in the
wine bar was once part of the Abbey buildings.
As well as monks there are also a couple of nuns reported to
be haunting West Malling. A cleaner at the library was frightened off when she
saw the ghost of a nun in the back room, who was thought to be linked to the
former leper hospital in King Street. At the former Brewery Tap on Swan Street
many of the staff reported seeing a beautiful nun who would appear in the rooms
that needed to be cleaned and then disappear through the wall. An oppressive
presence was also often felt next door in Abbey Brewery Cottage, in the room
which shared a wall with the Brewery Tap.
Some buildings in West Malling are thought to be haunted by
multiple ghosts and Douces Manor is one such example. The ghost of Miss Savage,
whose family used to live at the Manor, is often reported to be seen looking
out of a bay window at the garden. She turns to look at anyone who enters the
room. Another fair-haired apparition, who describes herself as the Merry Widow
of Mereworth has been known to wake up and even speak to visitors to the Manor.
Finally the ghost of a World War Two pilot is thought to haunt the cellar,
known during the war as The Twitch Inn.
Douces Manor isn’t the only place where sightings of ghostly
World War Two airmen have been reported. During the Great Warbirds Airshow that
took place in 1982 on the former RAF West Malling Airfield (now Kings Hill)
many visitors reported seeing apparitions of wartime planes and their crews
around the runway and hangars, almost as if the show had stimulated their
appearance. During the filming of the television series ‘We’ll Meet Again’ in
the same location, the director asked for two airmen and a WAAF who were
looking into the engine compartment of a jeep to be moved out of shot, but as
they were approached they vanished.
We tend to think of ghostly apparitions as frightening and
malevolent, and there is a very old tale of a beckoning figure leaning out of the
window of St. Leonard’s Tower, who is thought to bring disaster to those who
see him, but there are also some very friendly and helpful ghosts around the
town. In Lucknow, a listed building on the High Street, the ghost of a former
housemaid is said to haunt the bedrooms, and to turn down the beds on a regular
basis. Similarly, the Farmhouse Pub, formerly The Bear Inn, is thought to be
haunted by a former potman who still moves ghostly barrels around the cellar.
There are so many other ghost stories connected to West
Malling, it’s impossible to relate them all here, but hopefully this spooky
selection has got you in the mood for Halloween. Whether it’s ghostly knights
riding down the Offham Road, spooky revellers dancing at the former Assembly
Rooms on the High Street, or the ghost of the original Mr Baldock appearing at
the shop counter, the many ghostly tales and legends of this town are just
another part of its charm and heritage.
The accounts in this post are taken
from Ghosts of West Malling by
Margaret Gadd which is available from West Malling Library.
Over the last decade the trend for out of town shopping has
been clear. A lack of time and the promise of lower prices has meant that many
families have done the majority of their shopping at large supermarkets, but
now the tide does gradually seem to be turning.. and West Malling is a great example of where the High Street and Local Shops are supported and enjoyed by the people who live here and others who come to visit.
The popularity of shopping locally has been growing, and
this is illustrated in the campaign that TSB bank used to re-launch last month.
Using the strapline ‘welcome back to
local banking’ TSB are marketing themselves as a local bank that serves the
community, appealing to a growing feeling that people want to support local
businesses. Figures released by the British Retail Consortium in April showed
that the footfall in the High Street had increased 3.4% from the previous
month, which seems to bear out the idea that people are enjoying the benefits
of shopping locally.
So what exactly are those benefits? Here are just a few of
the advantages to shopping in your local town or village.
Become more connected with your local community. Commuting to work and popping into the supermarket
on your way home can make you feel alienated from the community you live in,
while visiting your local High Street can make you feel more involved. Combine
shopping with a haircut, a coffee with a friend, or a visit to the local
library, and pick up local news and developments as you go
Receive a more
personal service. Smaller local shops may not be able to compete on price
but they can offer a higher level of service with more personal interaction.
Get to know your shopkeeper, ask for advice, or see if they can order
particular products that you like. A trip to the supermarket often involves no
human interaction at all with the advent of self-checkout, whereas a local
shopping trip can be a really sociable experience.
Know the origin of
your produce. After the horsemeat issues of the past year many shoppers
have wanted to know more about the origins of their food. Supermarket labels
will often give the country of origin, but very little additional information
about where the product has come from and how it has been produced. On the
other hand, when you shop locally, your shopkeeper should be able to provide
far more details about the food chain, especially if you shop at a local
farmer’s market where the produce will have come direct from local farms.
Try something different. When most people visit the supermarket they have a fixed route
through the store, buying the same items they are familiar with every time.
Supermarkets are generally too large for further exploration and we only
usually try something new if it is on special offer. With smaller local shops
however, it is far easier to investigate everything they have to offer, and to
try out new flavours or varieties that would otherwise have passed us by.
Enjoy a full sensory
experience. While large supermarkets can be a little bland, independent
local shops offer a wide experience of sights, sounds, and smells. Local
retailers are starting to realise the importance of customer experience in
competing with out-of-town or online shops, and are putting a lot of effort
into making a visit to their store a unique and enjoyable event. A Saturday
morning soaking up the atmosphere of your local shops can be more rewarding
than a trip to the nearest retail park.
Save petrol and get
some exercise. Depending on where you live there are probably some shops
within walking, or at least cycling distance. Leave the car at home and get
some exercise, as well as reducing petrol consumption and helping the
environment, when you visit the shops in your locality.
Local shops and services form the heart of our communities,
and many people are starting to see the benefits of supporting them. In West Malling we’re lucky enough to have a vibrant centre with independent shops,
cafes,pubs, restaurants, and a fabulous range of services. A visit to the centre
of West Malling can be very rewarding, and you can be sure there will always be
something new to catch your eye.