Not far from the Hertfordshire town of Ware, in a village called Thundridge, you’ll find a quiet hamlet called Cold Christmas, along Cold Christmas Lane. Sounds quaint and idyllic, doesn’t it? But the name has a rather miserable (albeit hazy) origin story.
Cold Christmas is home to one of, if not the most haunted church in Britain – or what remains of one, at least. Actually called Little St Mary’s Church, it gained the nickname ‘Cold Christmas Church’ after it became the subject of frightening folklore. The church itself was demolished in the mid 1800s, but the church stone tower still remains. It was first built on a private estate in 1086 and wasn’t intended for public use. Legend has it that it was demolished because it was built on a north/south alignment rather than east/west like most other medieval churches, which is said to be a sign of the devil.
Alongside the Grade II* listed church stone tower is the church’s graveyard, which has been left untouched. The grave stones are all in a major state of disrepair, with many broken and/or fallen. Some say that mass burial graves lie under where the old church once stood. Many of the graves supposedly belong to young children who are said to have died following an extremely cold winter, hence Cold Christmas.
There’s a reason that, if you Google this place, you’re directed to the likes of ‘Totally Haunted UK‘ and ‘Essex Ghost Hunters‘ – this churchyard is supposedly rife with paranormal activity. Ghost hunters and thrill-seekers are naturally very interested in this place, and it used to be somewhat of a tradition for teenagers to descend upon the grounds every Halloween (until it was recently prohibited by police).
Hair-raising occurrences are generally reported to have come from in or around the church tower, including numerous accounts of strange sounds and ghostly figures roaming the area. In 1978, a lady reported walking towards the church and being met with a marching army who emerged from the church and passed straight through her.
Another anecdote, which psychic Andy Chaplin has written about for Spooky Isle, cites somebody spotting “what looked to be an old vintage 1920s style motor car, with two people sitting in the front, staring blanky ahead” [sic] while driving along the narrow country lanes towards the old church. These are just two of many stories that have been told about the mysterious Cold Christmas over the years.
Whether any of this is true or not is much disputed, particularly by historians. But one thing’s for sure: Cold Christmas Lane is a pretty cool address, don’t you think?
Also published on Medium.