IT CLAIMS to be Britain’s most haunted village — and its most famous ghost is a mysterious hooded figure called the Black Abbot who endlessly roams the local churchyard.
Tourists travel from far and wide hoping to glimpse the ghoulish apparition, hear the clatter of phantom horse hooves and feel an icy blast in the middle of a hot summer night.
The spooky goings-on in Prestbury, Gloucestershire, became so famous that four years ago businessman Mike James, 45, was approached by the local Women’s Institute to set up Cotswold Ghost Tours. And his 90-minute guided walks quickly became a hit with everyone from ghost-hunters to hen parties.
But now he’s called time on his tours after complaints from the Rev Nick Bromfield, vicar of St Mary’s Church — where the Black Abbot is said to roam. Mr Bromfield, 59, told Mr James he had become fed up with people stopping in his churchyard, sometimes next to newly dug graves.
He claimed photos of the church had been used without permission and there were alleged safeguarding issues involving children.
In turn, Mr James accused the vicar of leaving angry voicemail messages and threatening to ‘sabotage’ the tours. He said he had no choice but to stop them.
Mr Bromfield said: ‘Frankly, ghost tours have no part in a place of Christian worship and they don’t belong in a Christian churchyard.
‘We don’t want people’s stories about ghosts, spectres, poltergeists. It is not good for families, nor is it good for the many children we are blessed to welcome every week. I was saddened to see our church used as a backdrop to promote ghost tours.’
Mr James hit back, saying the vicar had made a ‘series of unsubstantiated claims that would take more time than I have to sort out, so I backed down’. He added: ‘I don’t understand why he’s taken such offence to storytelling. Ghost stories take place all over the world. Why is Prestbury different?’
The final Cotswold Ghost Tour takes place in Prestbury on November 9.