Goring-by-Sea Dancing Ghost
The following article entitled ‘Ghostly Goring scared out of its wits’ was published in the Worthing Herald, on Tuesday 30 October 2007. It concerns a spree of ghost sightings in Goring-by-Sea at the end of the 1920’s. The article mentions that sightings took place around Goring Hall. The Queen Anne style Goring Hall is now a private hospital and before that it had been used as a school. It is a Grade II listed building dating from 1889, a replica of an earlier house built by Charles Berry in 1840. Berry’s house was destroyed by fire and demolished.
WHEN young local workman, Morris Jenkins, was “scared out of his wits by a terrifying apparition” near Goring Hall one cold day in December 1929, he could not have imagined the alarm and concern his sighting would raise among the good villagers of Goring and Ferring.
In the following days, numerous local villagers were similarly frightened and speculation about a local ghost reached a new height when the Vicar of Ferring joined in with a warning from the pulpit.
Days after the ghostly sighting by Morris Jenkins, a report on the nocturnal apparition appeared in the Worthing Herald and during the following week the spectre in white appeared on consecutive nights in the neighbourhood of Goring Hall Drive.
The ghost was also seen “dancing” on the Goring cricket pitch and in Bull Fields but by this time men and youths were banding together and scouring Ferring and Goring armed with pitchforks, cudgels and other weapons.
One man even turned out with a sporting gun.
Several sightings were reported in the vicinity of Goring Hall Drive, so it was in this area that the self-styled “ghost vigilantes” laid in wait for several nights, hoping the apparition would reappear.
But it did not.
If somebody had conjured up the ghost as a joke, it had now got beyond a laughing matter. On the following Sunday the Vicar of Ferring, Rev. S M Morgan, gave a warning from his pulpit.
Declaring that the ghost really had been seen, he warned, “Such spectres are not protected by law” and emphasised (in what some considered a rather un-Christian manner) that he “would welcome news that the apparition has been brought to heel.”
Next day, the father of Morris Jenkins told a sceptical Herald reporter, “My son first saw the ghost when he was walking home from work.
“He arrived home very agitated and explained that he was halfway along Goring Hall Drive when he was confronted by something in white.
“He swished his arm at it then ran the rest of the way home.”
A second youth, George Sopp, who was one of Morris’s neighbours, declared that he had also seen the ghost, in the same place, when cycling along The Drive.
George told his mother that the apparition “popped up from the bushes at the side of the road,” adding “I was so frightened I almost fell of my bicycle.
“The next moment the ghost “floated off” across the fields.”
Not only youngsters encountered the ghost.
A Miss Newman, of the Henty Arms in Ferring, was among the frightened.
“I had just left home with a friend, on our way to a dance, when approaching from the parish hall I thought I saw someone in a light evening dress a few yards away.
“The next moment, something resembling a ghost and dressed in white came towards us.
“I was transfixed to the spot in fright but got the distinct impression that the ghost was more likely a man dressed in white because he then seemed to pull his white gown closer around his body and shuffled away.
“There was a white hood over his head but I could not possibly describe his features because I was so frightened.
“Who or whatever it was made no attempt to attack us and as soon as I could I collected my wits and ran home as fast as possible.”
Another victim of what by now some were describing as the “alleged ghost” was a Mrs Bembridge, from Storrington, who was visiting her parents at The Manor House in Ferring.
Her sisters had warned her not to use Goring Hall Drive when walking from the bus, so instead she went via the Bull Fields.
She was only a few yards down the lane near the Bull Inn when “the ghost seemed to appear from nowhere and jump up in front of me.”
Later, asked by a reporter if there was any truth in the rumour that Ferring had been terrorised by a ghost several years earlier, Mrs Bembridge’s mother said that her husband, who had lived in the village for 67 years, could not remember a previous case.
She added, however, that a ghostly apparition had scared an electrician working in an empty house nearby, several years earlier.
Eighty-five years old Mrs Streets, who was accustomed to walking alone through Ferring after dark, refused to believe the ghost stories at first.
But after the vicar’s sermon she bravely said she would carry a stick with her in future.
“I’ll give him ghost if I catch him,” she promised.