Haunting and exorcism in a downland hamlet. It happened in the early years of the 20th century when the tenant of a farmhouse ignored local warnings of a curse on his home by cutting down a line of ancient ilex evergreens which ran down from the churchyard and made his rooms too dark. The deed was done and the curse came true, the farm became haunted with strange sounds as if an invisible presence was forever wandering about the rooms whispering and wailing.
Unable to endure it any longer the tenant and his family left the farm to its ghostly occupant and it was offered rent free for a year to live down the story. But nobody could stand the atmosphere there for more than a few weeks and in addition to the ghostly noises there was now a plaintive, bodiless face gazing with lustrous eyes through one of the windows. Finally the vicar, armed with bell, book, candle and incense, performed an exorcism service in the deserted rooms. There were no further manifestations after that.
South Heighton’s heyday was during the life of the cement works which opened in 1885 and before its closure in 1921 employed as many as 150 people.
The church was struck by lightning about 1740. It was never repaired and was condemned for public use in 1780. Gone, too, is The Blacksmith’s Arms, the old village hall and the school.