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St Helen' parish church, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

St Helen' parish church, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Photo: Motacilla, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Poltergeist in West St Helen Street, Abingdon

16 November 2021 (Updated 20 September 2022)

In May 1891, Abingdon was reportedly troubled by a poltergeist who persistently threw objects through windows in the vicinity of West St Helen Street.

Crowds gather to watch

According to Nicola Sly's account in A Grim Almanac of Oxfordshire, the disturbances continued for a number of nights, drawing large crowds hoping to witness the supernatural events themselves.

Despite the crowds, the poltergeist activity continued unabated, with projectiles including potatoes and lumps of coal being thrown through glass windows in full view of onlookers.

The barrage of objects was apparently so persistent that locals complained that they could get no peace, and the police were summoned to investigate.

Abingdon map, featuring West St Helen Street

A map circa 1938, showing the St Helen's area of Abingdon.

The police investigate

The police clearly suspected that s more earthly prankster might be at large. As the projectiles often seemed to come from above, the roofs of nearby houses were searched but to no avail.

The alleged poltergeist activity continued on and off for a number of weeks. On 8 June the police arrested a man named Alfred Carter on suspicion of being behind the vandalism, but were forced to release him, partly due to lack of evidence but also because the poltergeist activity continued while he was in police custody!

A continuation of an earlier haunting?

Nicola Sly doesn't record when the activity came to an end but does mention that many connected the activity with a ghost who was believed to haunt the area around nearby Ock Street some years earlier.

I've not been able to find any more information on this earlier Ock Street ghost, please get in touch if you have any more details!


  1. 'A Grim Almanac of Oxfordshire' by Nicola Sly (The History Press, 2013, ISBN: 978752465814)