Ghosts Of The Past: Minsden Ghost 'Faked Photo'

28th January 2023. Reading Time: 3 minutes General, Ghosts Of The Past. 583 page views. 0 comments.

In this series, I take a look at some historical accounts of ghostly encounters.  In this article, we look at the famous photo of the Minsden Ghost, a practical joke that went a little too far when people believed it was really a ghost and received worldwide attention!

Minsden Chapel was located just outside of the village of Preston, Hertfordshire in the UK.  The village itself grew outside grew around the Knight's Templars which was a military order from the 11th century.  It now sits in ruins, which are thought to be haunted.  Reports of the hauntings can be traced back to a photograph published by the Daily Mail and taken by Thomas William Latchmore.  The photo was taken in 1907.  You can see why the below photo would gain such Worldwide attention with a spectral figure seemingly walking across the shot.  Not all however was as it seems.

Image Source: Public Domain by Thomas William Latchmore

The below article appeared on December 26th 1929 in the Daily News Perth: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/83124952

Much excitement was caused here by the publication in the 'Daily. Mail' of a photograph of the ghost which is said to haunt the old ruins of Minsden Chapel. The photograph was taken many years ago by a Hitchin photographer. Thousands of people have come to believe that there was no trickery about it, and that the photographer was amazed when a curious, semi-transparent, cowled figure appeared on his negative. I have discovered, however, that the photograph was a 'fake' (says the correspondent of the 'Daily Mail'). The revelation is the more interesting in view of the fact that the legends of Minsden Chapel and its ghost are investigated in the second volume of Mr. R. L: Hine's'History of Hitchin.' which is to' appear shortly. Mr. T. B. Latchmore. of Brand-street, Hitchin, who took the photograph, saidto me:—

'It began as a photographic experiment. Then I played a small joke on a cousin, who was interested in psychical research. He believed it. and although ever since I have always declared that I did not believe there was a ghost, people would not believe me, and so this
legendary story has grown up around it. The photograph was taken on a fine afternoon many years ago. I had read of a new method of taking such photographs, and to test it I arranged with a friend to visit Minsden Chapel. The friend dressed in suitable draperies and
posed for a time-exposure in front of the building. Then I closed the shutter. My friend withdrew, and the exposure was completed without the 'ghost.'

The result was the photograph appearing in the 'Daily Mail.'' Mr. Latchmore refuses to disclose the name of the 'ghost' who was photographed. He said: —

'It was a friend, and I agreed that I should never disclose the name. All I can say is that the figure was 'the personification of the ghostly nun who is supposed to haunt Minsden, I repeat that the photograph was a 'fake.'' 

Trove

While the photograph was a fake, ghostly reports soon started to follow the site with reports of sightings of a monk climbing stairs that were no longer there. 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons AnemoneProjectors (2010)

In the 1940s, Peter Underwood spent the night at the ruins to investigate some of the spooky reports where he was haunted by the sound of music and saw the light a bright white cross on the wall which faded away.  Much of this has been documented in his books.  Others have seen the cross too and while many believe was a sign from god, Underwood said it was more likely to be the moonlight shining through the trees.  It is a nice thought either way.

* The above article has been translated by me and also by others in Trove and may contain mistakes.


References:

https://www.spookyisles.com/what-is-the-truth-behind-haunted-minsden-chapel/

https://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/hauntings/minsden-chapel/

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