The Black Hound of Hergest Court, Herefordshire, England
In the 15th century, Hergest Court was much grander than it appears today. This is when Sir Thomas Vaughn, known as Black Vaughn, used to live there. He earned his nickname because he was allegedly the epitome of an evil medieval lord.
During the Wars of the Roses, he originally fought on the Lancastrian side but later switched to the Yorkists and ended up being killed in the Battle of Banbury in 1469. It was said that he was decapitated and that his faithful black bloodhound howled and immediately bounded across the bloody battlefield and snatched his master’s still bleeding head up in its jaws. The beast then headed home for Hergest Court with the severed head dangling from the dog’s fangs. Black Vaughn’s headless body was laid to rest at the family’s vault in Kington church, but his spirit did not find the same rest.
Locals said that he took the form of a ghastly black bull that terrorized the countryside along with his faithful spectral black dog. People were so afraid of the two apparitions that they would not leave their homes, which eventually hurt the town’s economy. Something had to be done. It was decided that an exorcism should be performed so twelve priests came together to make it so. The priests captured Vaughn’s spirit in a snuff box and then buried it under a heavy stone on the lake bed at Hergest Court. It was not so easy to get rid of the hound.
Vaughn’s dog was seen for centuries after that. He was especially feared by the Vaughn family because they believed it to be a harbinger of death for their kin. The last of that Vaughn line died out in the 19th century. Some people are still afraid to go by Hergest Court after dark even to this day. Growling and barking can apparently be heard from the top room of the house.
Arthur Conan Doyle drew inspiration from the Vaughn Hound to create his masterpiece The Hound of the Baskerville’s.
The Hergest Court estate in the village of Kington dates back over seven hundred years. The original manor house dates from around 1267, built by Hwel Ap Meurig.