Bettiscombe, Dorset, England

Countryside below Bettiscombe Manor

Higher Filford Farm

The author Coxe makes note of Higher Filford Farm in his book, 'Haunted Britain'. However, we are unable to trace such a location at this time. It is claimed that an old soldier reputedly haunts the house. It is said that the apparition frequents a room where cheese was once ripened.


For further information, please read Haunted Britain by Antony D. Hippisley Coxe.

Bettiscombe Manor

Bettiscombe Manor is inextricably linked with the Legend of the Screaming Skull, of which there are a few versions. It starts with the two Pinney brothers, who supported the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion. One of them, Azariah Pinney, was tried and condemned to death at the Bloody Assizes, but later reprieved. He was however, enslaved and transported to the West Indies. This turn of fate led him to prosper. His grandson returned to Bettiscombe a wealthy man and in company with a native West Indian servant.


One version of the legend states that the skull at the Manor belongs to this servant, who swore that unless his body returned to his homeland he would never rest. When he died, he was buried in the nearby churchyard, only for people to report terrible screams emanating from his grave, as well as the banging on doors and rattling of windows of the manor. This led to the exhumation of the skull and it being kept in the house.


The second version has the servant’s master as a priest. The two men argued and it ended with the death of one of them. The skull is said to be that of either men – one filled with anger, the other remorse – and whichever man it is, their ghost haunts the building. However, a third possibility is that the skull was of a local inhabitant that was discovered in a barrow, and its purpose is to warn a member of the family of impending death.


The author, J.A. Brooks, also mentions that a phantom funeral procession has been reported at midnight on the south side of the house.


For further information, please read Haunted Britain by Antony D. Hippisley Coxe and Britain's Haunted Heritage by JA Brooks.


Visitor Information

Bettiscombe is a small village in Dorset, England.

It is situated in the Marshwood Vale 4 miles west of Beaminster.

Pictured left is countryside below Bettiscombe Manor courtesy of Derek Harper. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.