The mad wives, however, were delayed by an unscheduled stop at Pluckley. The train came to a halt between white clapboarded buildings, beyond which the rooks rose in a great clamour from the trees by the gravel pits. From our tub we could see porters assembling a goods train in the siding, a fly waiting in the station yard, its owner fast asleep on the box, and the station master’s wife trying to cut chrysanthemums from a flower bed with a pair of nail scissors. A man reading the East Kent Gazette frowned when the band struck up with ‘Elsie from Chelsea’ and positively glowered when Stumps jumped up on the seat and joined in the chorus. (Mr Blackwood’s Fabularium Chapter 2)

At one point the excursion stops – in the middle of someone’s story – at Pluckley Station. I chose Pluckley for two reasons. One, it is the only original station building remaining on the South Eastern Railway line to Dover. I imagine that all the stations between Ashford and Tonbridge (usually spelt Tunbridge in those days) – Headcorn, Staplehurst, Marden, Paddock Wood, etc. – must also have been single-storey clapboarded buildings. The other reason for stopping there was that Pluckley, reputedly one of the most haunted villages in England, was a good place to introduce Dr Erasmus leGrove, the diocesan exorcist. Pluckley is said to have ghosts of a schoolmaster, a monk, a soldier a miller, an old gypsy woman and a highwayman. For a full list see Westwood and Simpson’s The Lore of the Land.


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