In keeping with our February theme of all things Satanic, we have compiled a list of places around the world that the devil has doomed with his presence; places that he has haunted and lurked, attempting to lure unsuspecting folks to their untimely demise. These locations, some of which are in the UK, are real. Their stories, and the part Satan has to play in them, have inspired legends and also conjured up non-Satanic explanations for those who cannot bear to face the presence of something “other”.
1. Cold Christmas, Hertfordshire
Cold Christmas Church is situated in Thundridge, Hertfordshire. Its original name was Little St. Mary’s Church, but it was nicknamed Cold Christmas Church due to its close proximity to Cold Christmas Lane. The church dates back to 1086, but was demolished in 1853 when a new Parish church was built nearby, leaving only the original church tower. The church was built on a North/South alignment instead of East/West. Many medieval churches were built this way and is said to be the sign of the devil, which is why it was later demolished.
The entire site has fallen into disrepair, including crumbling gravestones and overgrown plants. It has been said that there is a Mausoleum in the graveyard and mass burial graves lie under where the old church once stood, with the graves mainly belonging to young children. It is said that an unusually cold Christmas lead to the untimely deaths of many of the village children. It was after this supposed tragedy that the villagers decided to change the name of the village to Cold Christmas.
The church has been well-documented as being used by witches to perform rituals. It is also said that it has been used by devil worshippers for occult practices. The problem has bothered locals so much that the local authorities planned to knock it down, however they came up against issues when dealing with excavating the mass graves. As recently as 1989 a local radio station decided not to set up a transmitter here because of “regular interruption from devil worshippers”.
Paranormal activity has haunted the church, with its most famous ghost story coming from a woman in 1978. She claimed she came face to face with a marching army when walking through the grounds. They appeared to come through the door of the tower, march up to the lady and straight through her. Ghost-hunters are known to have gathered evidence of paranormal activity in the church such as hammering sounds, orbs of light and an eerie voice saying “Let me out”.
2. Devil’s Footprints, Devon
It was February 1855 in Devon. Temperatures had been uncharacteristically low for the time of year. Many rivers were frozen– among them the Exe and the Teign. Too cold for a thaw, each winter shower added to the mass of snow, creating the conditions for the phenomenon that follows – a mystery that remains unsolved to this day.
Here is a first-hand account of the story from a concerned Devonian written to the editor of the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette:
Sir, Thursday night, the 8th of February , was marked by a heavy fall of snow, followed by rain and boisterous wind from the east, and in the morning frost.
The return of day-light revealed the ramblings of some most busy and mysterious animal, endowed with the power of ubiquity, as its foot-prints were to be seen in all sorts of unaccountable places – on the tops of houses, narrow walls, in gardens and courtyards, enclosed by high walls and palings, as well as in the open fields. The creature seems to have frolicked about through Exmouth, Littleham, Lympstone, Woodbury, Topsham, Starcross, Teignmouth, &c. &c.
There is hardly a garden in Lympstone where his foot-prints are not observable, and in this parish he seems to have gambolled about with inexpressible activity. Its tracks appear more like that of a biped than a quadruped, and the steps are generally eight inches in advance of each other, though in some cases twelve or fourteen, and are alternate like the steps of a man, and would be included between two parallel lines six inches apart.
The impression of the foot closely resembles that of a donkey’s shoe, and measures from an inch and a half to (in some cases) two inches and a half across, here and there appearing as if the foot was cleft, but in the generality of its steps the impression of the shoe was continuous and perfect; in the centre the snow remains entire, merely showing the outer crust of the foot, which, therefore, must have been convex.
The creature seems to have advanced to the doors of several houses, and then to have retraced its steps, but no one is able to discern the starting or resting point of this mysterious visitor. Everyone is wondering, but no one is able to explain the mystery; the poor are full of superstition, and consider it little short of a visit from old Satan or some of his imps.
Within the letter, the writer included drawings of what appear to be cloven hooves, walking one in front of the other as if a goat was walking on its hind legs. The story gained national attention, becoming one of the great mysteries of the time. The prints stretched for between 40 and 100 miles around the south Devon coastline and induced some Dawlish locals to arm themselves with ‘guns and bludgeons’ to track down the culprit.
The mystery has since encouraged many theories as to what really happened. They range from the hind foot of a badger to an otter or frog. Yet, whatever the explanation, Devonians will want to hold onto their claim to fame: that the Devil came to visit every house for 100 miles and not a soul was harmed.
3. Satan’s Hollow, Ohio U.S.A
From quirky legend to something out of IT, Blue Ash in Ohio, USA has a dark secret. Impossible to find on a map, just beyond the undergrowth is an old storm sewer which is thought locally to be a portal to hell. Nicknamed “Satan’s Hollow”, it is said that the storm sewer was once used by a group of Satanists who met in some type of altar room within, and conducted rituals. These rituals included holding dark mass, animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, and conjuring. Though police deny any links to murders or sacrifices in this location, some claim they have found evidence of something strange and sinister going on in Satan’s Hollow.
David Scott and John Stephens, Chicago filmmakers, produce several web shows and are determined to document proof of the afterlife. After hearing the rumours about Satan’s Hollow and a spirit called “The Shadow Man”, they felt compelled to investigate. Screams can be heard at night, and there have been many sightings of various apparitions, including floating skulls and a demon, commonly known as The Shadow Man. He was apparently left there by Satan to guard the tunnels of the sewer. The Shadow Man is said to appear in the form of a human, only completely blacked out, hence his name.
During their investigation, Scott and Stephens found seemingly satanic graffiti which guided them through the tunnel. The numbers 666 spray-painted in multiple areas were found among other things as they looked for an area known as “the altar”. Afterward both men were convinced that something supernatural was happening inside the tunnel.
“We had a spirit claiming to be the legendary Shadowman,” said Scott, “When asked who is the Shadow Man we got a really, really scary response… it said Satan.”
Satan’s Hollow sits on private property and the owner has made it very clear that no one is welcome there. Exorcist Adam Blai also questions the property’s folklore. “It’s not about opening portals. There’s no such thing,” said Blai. However, regardless of human sacrifices or shadowy demons guarding the tunnels, it certainly is an eerie place with a strange atmosphere.
4. The Devil’s Tramping Ground, North Carolina U.S.A
The Devil’s Tramping Ground is a camping spot in Bear Creek in North Carolina, USA. Set back from the main road is an empty patch of woods. It is a dusty circle, barren of plant life and about 40ft wide, where the devil comes to dance. Not a tree, not a flower, no lowly weed, not even a single blade of grass will grow in the limits of the circle. Seeds sown there refuse to sprout. Even animals, it is said, won’t cross this empty patch of woods.
According to rumour, anything placed inside the circle will have been thrown out by morning to make room for the devil to dance. People have also said they have witnessed red glowing eyes in the middle of the circle. Sceptics claim that it may be the territory of an aggressive animal that refuses to let anything blemish its plot of land, but others have claim to have gathered evidence.
Years back a journalist from a local newspaper spent the night in a tent smack in the middle of the circle with his two dogs to disprove the story. The reporter stayed the night, though he did report hearing ghostly footsteps circling his tent. It has left locals wondering whether the circle represents the territory of some nocturnal animal, or possibly the tramping grounds are simply so instilled with legend that the stories simply seem to come true in the minds of the people there to witness it.
Legend says that in his Tramping Ground, The Devil spends his nights pacing around and around in a circle, plotting ways to bring human souls to damnation. It’s the scorching heat of his cloven hoof prints that kills the vegetation and has rendered the soil barren. He brushes aside anything left in his path, his great strength easily able to toss aside even the heaviest objects. Still to this day, the patch of ground is marked with legend, unexplained and unsolved.
5. Boleskine House, Inverness, Scotland
Boleskine House is the ex-residence of occultist Aleister Crowley, situated on the south-east side of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Crowley bought the house in the late 1800s and lived there until 1913. It is said that during his residence in the house he performed a lengthy ritual called “The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage” and summoned 12 Kings and Dukes of Hell. During the ritual that took six months of preparation, Crowley was called to Paris and didn’t banish the spirits he had summoned. Ever since, strange things have happened in and around the house.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page bought the house in the 1970s driven by his long interest in the work of the Victorian occultist and magician. Page went on to claim that during his residence he felt “bad vibes” and that during the night the head of Lord Lovat, who fought with the English during the 1745 uprising, could be heard rolling across the floor. Page sold up in the 1990s and moved out along with his long-standing caretaker Mr Dent. Dent said, “Doors would be slamming all night, you’d go into a room and carpets and rugs would be piled up.”
With plenty of myth and superstition surrounding the property, it is said the consequences of Crowley’s time at Boleskine were long felt, with several personal tragedies associated with the house. One employee of the estate attempted to kill his wife and children, it was claimed in Crowley’s diary. His lodge keeper, Hugh Gillie, suddenly lost his two children in sudden, unexplained circumstances.
However, it was thought that the house was cursed long before Crowley ever lived there. The current house was constructed in the 1760s by Colonel Archibald Fraser as a hunting lodge. Allegedly the house was built on the site of a 10th-century Scottish kirk. According to legend, the kirk caught fire during congregation, killing all inside. The house was also built on a hillside above a graveyard, which had acquired a reputation for unusual activities. There is even a tunnel linking the house to the graveyard. This fuelled local legend even before Crowley moved into the house.
6. Devil’s Bridge, Wales
A quiet village twelve miles outside Aberystwyth, famous for its waterfalls and three stacked bridges, Pontarfynach’s name means “The bridge over the Mynach river”. Devil’s Bridge is the lowest of three bridges, stacked one on top of the other, and is said to have been built by the devil.
The location has been used for filming of BBC drama Hinterland, in which the bridge became synonymous with murders because it was a common site for the disposal of bodies.
According to legend, the lowest bridge was built by the Devil himself to let a local woman rescue her cow which had somehow got to the other side of the gorge. Expecting the woman to walk across to get it, his one condition was that he received the soul of the first living creature to cross the bridge. However, he was tricked by the lady who got her pet dog to run across first – thus leaving the Devil with a soul of a dog.
7. Hell Fire Club (Montpelier Hill), County Dublin, Ireland
Mount Pelier Hill is a 383-metre hill in County Dublin, Ireland. It is commonly referred to as the Hell Fire Club, the popular name given to the ruined building at the summit. Originally there was a cairn with a prehistoric passage grave on the summit. Stones from the cairn were taken and used in the construction of Mount Pelier lodge. Shortly after completion, a storm blew the roof off. Local superstition attributed this incident to the work of the Devil, a punishment for interfering with the cairn. Mount Pelier Hill has since become associated with numerous paranormal events.
The club was founded in 1735 by Richard Parsons, a known dabbler in black magic. The members met at locations across Dublin and were known for their amoral behaviour and debauchery involving alcohol and sex. The secrecy surrounding the club members led to speculation that they were Satanists and Devil-worshipers. The president of the club was named “The King of Hell” and dressed like Satan, with horns, wings and hooves. The members were said to set a place at each meeting for the Devil, in the hope that he’d attend. They were also said to hold black masses in the lodge during which cats – and even servants – were sacrificed. Some say the building was deliberately set on fire in order to enhance its hellish atmosphere.
Members of the Hell Fire Club, which was active in the years 1735 to 1741, used Mount Pelier lodge as a meeting place. Stories of wild behaviour, occult practices and demonic manifestations have become part of the local lore over the years. The best-known Hellfire club story is the one in which the Devil himself appears. A stranger had joined the members at a game of cards. At some point one of the card players dropped a card on the floor. As he bent down to retrieve it he noticed that the stranger had cloven hooves instead of feet. Another tale concerns a young farmer, curious to find out what went on at the meetings. Climbing up Montpelier Hill one night, he was invited in by the members of the club and allowed to witness the night’s activities. He was found the next morning trembling and terrified. Tradition says he spent the rest of his life unable to speak; unable even to remember his name.