Minsden Chapel is now nothing more than a ruin, standing isolated amidst trees in the Hertfordshire countryside. The site is very atmospheric, given its isolated position and long history. The haunting of the chapel is one of the best known in Hertfordshire, mainly because it has been widely investigated. Peter Underwood had a strange experience here, and a photograph showing a phantom monk was taken in 1907 by W.T. Latchmore.
The chapel, now a roofless shell, is made of flint nodules and dates back to the 14th Century, when it was a stop off point on the pilgrim route to St Albans Abbey. By the 17th Century the chapel was a picturesque ruin, which was still used by those of a more romantic disposition for weddings. By 1725 the bells had been robbed from the chapel, and the danger of falling masonry had put an end to the open-air marriage ceremonies.
In the early part of the twentieth century the chapel became linked with Reginald Hine, who fell in love with the place. Reginald was a local historian who researched into the chapel’s history extensively. It was during one of his visits in 1907 that his companion, W.T. Latchmore, photographed a phantom monk coming out of the ruins.
Reginald committed suicide in strange circumstances at Hitchin railway station in 1949. He calmly stepped in front of a train while in the midst of a conversation with one of his friends.
Long before he died he had said about the chapel “I will endeavour in all ghostly ways to protect and haunt these hallowed walls”, so visitors beware!
We visited the site with a group of clairvoyants in 1993 during a tour of the area. The three clairvoyants claimed to pick up images relating to a tunnel, a cellar with a bricked up tunnel entrance, and barrels being unloaded from a cart. The barrels were then taken into a building, revealing people hiding in the cart behind them. Several symbolic images were also picked up by one of the psychics.
By pure chance we stopped off at the Brockett Arms for lunch (before we knew of its haunted reputation), one of the clairvoyants claimed it resembled the building that he saw barrels being unloaded for. Speaking to staff at the Brockett Arms they told of a legend concerning a tunnel in their cellars that was bricked up and led to Minsden Chapel. They said the pub was haunted by a monk, who either committed suicide by hanging himself, or was hung after being caught trying to burn the building down.
The information offered by the clairvoyants and the apparent justification of it, in no way proves the existence of psychic ability. The visit was not under controlled conditions, and it is only mentioned here as an anecdote. I doubt whether a physical tunnel could have existed between the Brockett Arms and Minsden Chapel, as the distance between the two is too great. Further research on the matter revealed another tunnel legend, from the Brocket arms to the local church in Ayot St Lawrence. It is possible that the church was confused with Minsden Chapel by the person telling the story.
Traditionally the chapel is haunted by a phantom monk, as mentioned before the spectre was photographed in 1907. The monk is said to appear at midnight on All Hallows Eve, to the Northeast of the chapel, as the bells of the chapel begin to toll. He is said to climb a set of steps, which no longer exist.
Some witnesses have heard faint music from the chapel, Peter Underwood, the once president of the Ghost Club, spent a vigil here, and heard the sound of distant music, he also witnesses a white glowing cross on one of the walls, which disappeared and then reappeared. The chapel also has a legend about a murdered nun who haunts the area.
The ruin is remote, very atmospheric and well worth a visit, it is in a dangerous condition so beware of falling masonry and ghostly guardians.