Now a peaceful place for a road trip, it was once a hot spot for highwaymen and a dangerous place to travel. Sometimes, it was also dangerous for the robbers. 

On a chilly Christmas Eve a woman and her father were riding in their carriage down the Road to Hawkhurst Kent. In the eighteenth century highwaymen were notorious and feared in the English countryside. They robbed whoever came their way, and sometimes, the robbery went more violently than necessary. And Hawkhurst housed some of the more notorious gangs and smugglers at the time, making the place feared along the English coast.

Alone With The Highwayman

Dangers on the road: A carriage was a sure sign of wealth and a target for the highwaymen.
Photo: Asalto al coche (Robbery of the coach), by Francisco de Goya.

This had been the case of the young woman’s brother, who had been killed on maybe even the same road. But there was one road to take to get anywhere and the same family was again meeting an unfortunate end. The carriage was stopped by the highwayman Gilbert when they were around the village of Marden in Kent. He ordered the father and daughter out of the carriage to strip them of their possessions and valuables. But as soon as the daughter stepped on the ground, the horse bolted, carrying her father away, leaving her all alone with the robberer at the side of the road, seemingly helpless. 

But the story comes with a twist seldom seen in other horror stories like these. A horror, not only by being robbed, dawned on her as she laid eyes on the face of the man. She recognised him, Gilbert, as the one who had murdered her brother as well. And she refused to see such a fate befall on herself. Enraged and afraid she drew a knife and stabbed the before he could take more from her by reaching for a hidden knife in her bag and planting it into Gilbert’s side and fled into the bushes.  

When the father and the driver managed to calm the horses, they returned to the sight of where they had left her alone. There, all they could find was Gilbert’s dead body that they buried on the side of the road.

The Price of Her Life

It wasn’t until the next day the woman was found by the villagers of Marden, wandering around after having stabbed a man to death. All alone this cold Christmas Eve she had been fleeing from the danger from last night. But although she escaped alive, her body unharmed, it is told that during the night she had gone completely mad.  

And every Christmas Eve since, the same scene, the robbery, the murder is repeated by their ghosts, first by Gilbert himself, then later perhaps joined by the woman. 


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