Centuries ago their lived a man called Sir William Kingdon who today has become completely lost in the mists of time. It may well be that he was related to Nicholas de Kingdom who along with Lady Dyonisia owned Skerraton manor in the 1200s. What is known is that during his lifetime he was a great friend and benefactor to the monks at Buckfast Abbey. As was the norm in those long lost days, in return for their ‘kindness’ the nobility expected a few privileges and Sir William was no exception. He asked that when he should shed his mortal coil his remains should be buried in the vault of Buckfast Abbey and in addition every year on the anniversary of his death the brothers should offer prayers for his soul.
All that is known is that the knight died on the 3rd of July, nobody knows which year except that is was prior to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, which in Buckfast’s case was 1539. The funeral was held at the Abbey and the body of Sir William Kingdon was laid to rest in the depths of the vault. Having fulfilled part of their duties the monks retired to resume their daily routine and the noble knight was left in eternal peace, or that is what the brothers thought. On the 3rd of July the following year the brotherhood gathered to pray for the soul of their departed benefactor in the vault. Halfway through the service a strange mist began to form over the spot where the knight was buried. Slowly the mist began to take on the profile of a man until eventually all the monks were in no doubt that stood before them was the ghostly apparition of Sir William. Undaunted they nervously continued with their supplications and as the last ‘Amen’ sounded the phantom miasma began to disappear. The following day the matter was discussed in the chapterhouse and it was decided that as nobody could explain what had occurred or what it foretold it was best never to mention it again. Twelve months later the monks once again assembled in the abbey vault and began to say prayers in remembrance of their departed benefactor. It was with mighty dread that once again they saw a cloud of mist slowly forming over the grave, as before it took on the shape of Sir William and remained there until the last ‘Amen’ was uttered. Once again the monks decided not to mention the occurrence, afterall if their hallowed abbey was haunted what did that say about the sanctity of the church? On the 3rd of July the next year the same paranormal experience occurred, although dread filled their hearts, the monks began to accept what would happen as if was an unexplained part of the rite, still nothing was mentioned outside of the monastic precincts.
Then came the day when the abbot and his brothers were told to leave their beloved abbey by the commissioners of Henry VIII, after which the mighty abbey slowly crumbled away until all that was left was a skeleton of ruined walls. However, somebody forgot to tell Sir William that the monks had left and to this day on the 3rd of July the ghostly mist returns and hovers over the spot where the grave was. The monks have now returned to Buckfast and the only spirits they ever mention is their hallowed Buckfast Tonic Wine. But that does not mean the haunting still does not take place, it may well be that like the brothers before them they are bound to silence over the matter.
Crossing, W. 1997, Folklore and Legends of Dartmoor, Liverton: Forest Publishing.