Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Is this another Sevenoaks ghost story? Or is there a rational explanation for the mysterious man seen at a local school?

Our recent story about the mystery woman on a Sevenoaks-bound train from London who ‘disappeared’ at Dunton Green generated massive interest and divided opinion between those who insist ghosts do not exist and those who were intrigued by the tale.

We have now received details of another similar mystery that took place at a school in Sevenoaks.

Musician Alicia began working as a flute teacher at the former West Heath girls boarding school, located in in the Sevenoaks Common area, in November 1993. The school originally moved into the mansion, formerly known as Ashgrove House, in 1932. The house itself was built in 1760 by Captain John Smyth.

Before West Heath took over the estate it had several other owners who made their own additions and alterations to the building. These included Multon Lambarde, William Haldimand, Kirkman Hodgson MP, his son Robert, and Edward Kraftmeier who provided the funds for the building of the original Sevenoaks Swimming Pool in Eardley Road – now the site of the Sevenoaks District Council offices.

Alicia remembers: “I was on my third visit to the school and, after dropping off my flute in the large practice room which faced the courtyard, I went to the staff room at the top of the staircase in the main house for my register.

“I returned within a few minutes. My first 13-year-old student of the day was waiting for me outside the room and admitted that, rather embarrassingly, she had forgotten her flute.

“As we stood in the corridor facing the room, a gentleman (depicted in the drawings) came from our left. He was carrying a full satchel under his arm and went into the room we were just about to use for our lesson and closed the door.

“Being new to the school I was a little perturbed as I now thought I had to deal with negotiating to use the room as well as dealing with the forgotten flute. I was discussing the options with my pupil when the music room door opened and the gentleman re-emerged carrying a tray with a decanter of water and ice, an embroidered tray cloth, and a glass.

Without a word, he turned left, and went around the corner and out of view. I assumed he was on his way to the school kitchen.

I decided to take over the room while we had the chance and my pupil and I went in and started the lesson using my flute. However, after about 10 minutes or so I started to feel as though something was not quite right.

“I realised that not only was the satchel the gentleman was carrying nowhere to be seen, but I did not recollect the water and tray he collected being in the room when I first arrived. My pupil was also new to the school and when I asked her who the man was, she didn’t seem to know.

Eventually I put the incident out of my mind until three years later when Gill Hall, the head of the music department, was leaving the school.

A get together was organised to say goodbye and, as is always the case when a group of staff members gather in a social situation, many memories and funny stories were told and so I recounted my own tale. Some ideas were put forward but when I described the gentleman’s physical description, which was still clear in my mind, these suggestions proved a dead end.

“This could have been the end of the mystery until another member of staff later recounted a tale which sounded remarkably similar.

“Another West Heath staff member who lived on the estate was walking his dog in the grounds late one night and entered the main house by the side door in the courtyard. The cobbled courtyard was originally surrounded by stables and storage rooms for carriages which were later converted into the music rooms by the school.

“The dog started barking loudly at a figure in the distance who appeared to be carrying a tray. As the dog owner did not recognise the person, he started to follow him down the corridor towards the kitchen and watched him enter the room which still contains the mansion’s original butler’s pantry. The story, like mine, then comes to a dead end as the man was not seen again or identified.

“Shortly after my own experience, an artist friend kindly generated the drawings from my memory of the incident. In the following four years I taught at the school, I didn’t see the gentleman again. If I were to see a photograph, I would instantly recognise him.

“The drawings have been in an envelope for close on 30 years and I have until now largely kept the story to myself. No doubt there is a rational explanation but as it stands, it is an unexplained and compelling mystery that has troubled me ever since and I would love to resolve it.

“Maybe someone else connected with the old school or music in the Sevenoaks area will recognise the gentleman and be able to identify him.”

  • If you missed the other recent mystery story involving a disappearing woman at Dunton Green Station you can read it by CLICKING HERE

West Heath School in Sevenoaks which was formerly known as Ashgrove House

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