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My First Ghost Encounter: Who was that Man?

By Roy Hale

Who was that man ?

When I was first approached by paranormal magazine ” Project Reveal ” to write an article for their online magazine, I was told I could write about either any of my UFOs or ghost experiences I may have had, or UFOs and ghosts in general,  so I am going to tell you about my very first ghost encounter ! 

Before I do begin with my story, please let me introduce myself to you, my name is Roy Hale and  I am the editor and owner of ” The Lost Haven website, which incorporates Down To Earth UFO Online Magazine ” I am also one of the cofounders of ELUFON ( Essex and London UFO Network) which investigated UFO sighting cases across East London and Essex mostly in the mid 90s to the mid to late 2000s, although recently some of its original members have been active on skywatches over parts of eastern England. Also to mention, I have appeared and been interviewed over the years in numerous media outlets, TV (CH4 – BBC ) , radio (BBC )  and magazines  and with this I have witnessed the change in the UFO and paranormal scene as the introduction of social media * youtube and alike *  has become more prominent and made it easier for people to view, and to also upload their own captured footage of UFOs, spectres, weird creatures and all kinds of phenomena which I must admit even make me gasp at their sheer oddity ! ) So now we know each other…let me continue on what I consider to be a life journey of very odd and quirky happenings !

My very first ghostly sighting happened when I was 12 years old, I was the kind of teenager who liked adventure a lot ( I am a Sagittarius so that should tell you everything about my adventure side ) and so with that in mind  here is what occurred on that weird day. 

I was on my way back from my local playing fields ( Hackney marshes, Hackney East London) as I used to go there quite often  with friends and family, being a  great space for us kids at the time to run around and also explore, so this time I had just left my friends just before I reached the library and I was walking along past the local library when I decided than rather to carry on straight down the high street towards my block of flats ( I lived in Bannister House, Homerton at the time ) I would take the shortcut past the old church and head down the back alley which was adjacent to the church and which also ran parallel with the kids adventure playground, a place I used to frequently inhabit as it was such a fun place to be at ! So I crossed over from the library and walked over towards the old church, and I began to walk past the old church wall at the back of the church.

( wall was about 2.5ft in height with added old metal black Victorian fencing embedded within the stone wall to make it a little  harder for people to just hop over –  Also NOTE:  I have managed to screen capture a few images of how St Barnabas church on Homerton high street is today, and you can clearly see the back of the church where I was and the layout of how it looked back then, remarkably unchanged after all these years * )

The time was around 4.45pm to 5pm, so it would be considered early evening, but as the above picture shows more or less I had the same kind of view as seen in the picture, not too overcast and still with some adequate light to my view, so anyhow as I began to walk past the wall I noticed out of the corner of my eye a figure at the back of the church where all the old graves were and he looked as if he was digging out earth from the ground ? I turned to look at him for about ten seconds, and then not taking anything else into account I carried on walking down the back of the church (see below picture ) 

when as I was quarter of the way down the back of the church road, it suddenly dawned on me that the church had stopped burying people in its ground many years ago ! With that I ran back to the church wall to take another look towards the back of the church to see if I could spot this figure again ? And to my utter shock there was no one there to be seen ? I was besides myself with many feelings, shock being one, interpretation of the unknown that I had just witnessed, a little sacred too but also overwhelming curiosity ! So with all those feelings boiling up inside of me, I placed both hands on the small black fence on the wall and lifted myself over into the church grounds, I immediately began to walk over to the old graves at the back of the churchyard to see if this character I had seen ( DESCRIPTION: he was wearing a classic grey 1920s flat cap, with a white shirt rolled up at the sleeves, black trousers and bracers ) was still around?  So there I was walking around the old graves from the early 20s and Victorian period looking for any sign of any kind of movement, from either a new grave being dug or an old grave being dug up, but I could find nothing, all I could find at the back of the wall was old branches that had fallen from the trees just laying in a semi piled naturally scattered bunch, like they had fallen off the tree over time and the wind and elements had moved them along the graves over a period of time. 

Now please bear in mind, I was just 12 at the time, so my investigatory powers was at a  very minimal start at that age, but I must admit I actually did feel a run of adrenalin once I started walking towards the back of those graves, not because I was heading into a collection of old graves, ( that for some unexplained reason didn’t phase me so much at the time), but I now feel it was because I was waiting for this chap who I had seen digging at the earth to suddenly appear at me and say ” boo” or something to like that, because that would have sent me running back to the church wall I can tell you !

I stayed in the churchyard grounds for about ten minutes, I walked from one end to the other looking for earth movement, any signs or clues I could get to back up what my eyes had clearly seen, but there was nothing, and I must admit I felt a little let down, because not only had I seen the man very clearly, but his actions were so precise in what he was doing, he looked committed shall we say, he had a reason or purpose to be there and doing what he was doing, and the fact that he wasn’t there once I had hopped over the wall to check, was beginning to confound on me terribly, I mean I had actually realised that I had seen something utterly mystifying , and something that could not be qualified by my mind at that very time, believe me I have mulled over this experience from time to time and tried to rationalise the visual of the man and place the sighting of this ghost into some form of rational perspective, but if you see a full grown figure dressed albeit in very old looking clothes and suddenly too and especially at such a young age of 12, it does make one feel at odds with the world around you, by that I mean; I saw him and no one else did, so I still battle within myself to try to figure out, who was he? What was he doing ? Was he the  vision of a time trapped ghost who was a gravedigger from the 1920s or possibly earlier? Why was I allowed to see him ? Was this a chance luck sighting of a window into the past ? Had anyone else seen him before? Would people think I was a little crazy if I told them about him? Well to answer the last point, I actually got home that day and spoke to my mum, I told her I had seen a ghost that day on the way back from the hackney marshes and it was in the back of the old St Barnabas Church near the playground, she asked me , what did the ghost look like, I described what he was wearing and his actions, wearing a typical flat gray cap of the 1920s, white shirt rolled up to the sleeves with bracers on it and black trousers, and it was the answer that my mum gave me that settled me right there and then, she said ” well, you may have just seen a ghost because it sounds like you spotted an out of date looking man doing something unusual in the back of the graveyard. ” but my mum said to me, just keep it quiet for now and let it be, telling too many people might make them laugh at you for all the wrong reasons, by that I think she meant I wouldn’t want to go through my teenage years having to constantly tell people what I had seen in great detail, only to have them ridicule me about it after I had finished, so I lived with it for many years, I have told a few close friends over the years but I now accept it as  a ghostly unexplained figure of the past who was seen by me  doing something to the earth in that graveyard that even today I still cannot explain.

Roy Hale.


The Lost Haven Website :

Roy Hale Email:

Roy Hale Facebook:


Credits: All pictures are Copyright of Google Inc.  

A guide to the  history of the Church of St Barnabas can be found at the below link:

2 thoughts on “My First Ghost Encounter: Who was that Man?

  1. Lovely story of yours, I had similar experiences in my life, and also tried to explain or at least understand what was happening to me. Because of this search, I eventually got back many times in certain places where experiences occurred, using different tools to obtain information. ie: recorder to hear any noise in the area, to interview other users of the same space; camera to make videos and pictures of the exact place where it happened, etc. As a researcher of the paranormal, I spend a lot of time reading about the place, the people, the history, similar experiences and I do my best to explain at least to myself, which anomaly really happened. Then, I am used to facing all kinds of mysterious stories and that one of yours, hit me straight in my memory. I had not only known it from a number of other stories, perspectives and places, but I had seen it myself as well. I am writing here as I never named my experience of that kind as a ghostly experience! So I wanted to clarify that maybe you can broaden the search for similar anomalies with a different title. As you described it yourself at some point, “sighting of a window into the past”, I would call it a 10 seconds out of time experience, where you view the window into another time when it was really happening and the man was a real working man, not energy or ghost, which also is a special experience and well could be the case, but for some reason I think it was a time portal slightly opening to your sensitivity. I personally love these portals my friend!

    1. Thank you newton

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