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Holy Trinity Church, Penn

On Easter Sunday, 10 April 1955, Ruth Ellis shot and killed David Moffett Drummond Blakely outside The Magdala pub, Hampstead, London. He is buried in the graveyard extension of Holy Trinity Church in Penn (Plot 48). Ruth Ellis (Born 9 October 1926 in Rhyl) was convicted of his murder and subsequently hanged at Holloway Prison on 13 July 1955. She was the last woman to be executed in the United Kingdom. But does she haunt Blakely's grave?

That is what was suggested in the following article by James Nadal entitled 'Last hanged woman's ghost haunts Penn, author says' which appeared in the Bucks Free Press on 9 July 2010.

SHE was the last woman ever hanged in Britain and she could still be haunting a churchyard in Penn.

Or so a paranormal researcher believes.

Author and photographer Eddie Brazil, 54, has been researching for his book about haunted churches around England.

His work has led to him to the idea that the ghost of Ruth Ellis – who was executed in 1955 – may be returning to the site where she murdered her lover David Blakely.

The first tale of ghostly apparitions comes from a Penn farm worker who was killed when he fell from his horse in the 18th century.

His ghost was said to appear up in the churchyard.

In 1980s the figure of a woman in white was seen to leave the churchyard by the east gate and walk down the hill which runs by the side of the churchyard.

Hazlemere resident Eddie explained: “Nobody knows the identity of the apparition but the Crown Public House across the road - they have a woman in white.

“We found out that David Blakely, who was murdered by Ruth Ellis, is buried in Penn churchyard, – and they used to drink in the crown pub.

“She told Blakely's parents that she loved him and ghost identification is a weird business.

“We thought could it be the ghost of Ruth Ellis still pining for Blakely?”

Eddie said he is a believer in ghosts and thinks eventually science may prove their existence.

“It's my opinion that ghosts do exist. There's a theory gaining ground on the scientific table in the last few years called non-locality theory which suggests mind and brain are separate, that the mind acts through the brain, but when you have bodily death the mind or consciousness can carry on in some from.

“The analogy would be like a television or radio signal which requires the nuts and bolts of the television to convert the sounds and pictures.

“If you were to destroy the TV or radio i.e have bodily death you wouldn't destroy the signal or consciousness.”

Thankfully this article was picked up by Alan Murdie of the Ghost Club and commented on it in an article of his own in the Fortean Times, January 2011, which allowed Eddie to state his opinion clearly.

'Two associations between the area and Ruth Ellis have been found. Firstly, her victim David Blakely is buried in Penn churchyard, and enquiries revealed that in life the couple had often met and drunk together in The Crown pub. Personally, Eddie is cautious about any such connection between Ellis and the phantom lady, stating in an email to me: “What I was trying to point out to the chap from the paper was that, in many hauntings, if a site has a resident ghost who cannot be identified then local folklore will sometimes provide the identity. Because of Ruth’s connection with Penn, people will readily associate her, or any other famous or infamous person, with the spectre.”

Although there is no evidence to prove it is the ghost of Ellis, the Bucks Free Press nonetheless ran the headline: “Last hanged woman’s ghost haunts Penn, author says”.

As Eddie Brazil recognises, many reasons can be put forward for rejecting such a connection, not least that graveyards seldom seem haunted, certainly by anyone with a clear identity.

Following her execution Ruth was interred in an unmarked grave within Holloway Prison. She was exhumed in the 1970's and reburied at St Mary's Church, Amersham under the name Ruth Hornby.

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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: Holy Trinity Church, Penn

On a personal note I am not sure that we should try to identify new ghosts at all. There is no clear evidence that an apparition has anything to do with 'spirits' or the survival of a consciousness. Old ghost stories that claim identities aresomewhat  acceptable as they are now part of established ghost lore, but should we really be trying to fit a deceased identity to new hauntings as this may show a bias toward a spiritual belief system rather than approaching the case objectively.



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