There are definitely pros and cons with living in New England. The cons are actually the lack of cons! That’s right, we get very little in the way of horror conventions in our neck of the woods. The pros though are many and include a wide variety of history, much of it supernatural. Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, boasts more incidents of vampirism than all other states combined and it is believed that Bram Stoker based his best-selling novel on what was going on right in my back yard.
This past year saw me getting a new job and thankfully, I met a lot of people with similar interests. I had only read about Spider Gates Cemetery previously in a book called “Weird Massachusetts” by Jeff Belanger. The cemetery was rumored to be haunted and supposedly had a long history of questionable activity. I was approached by one of my co-workers expressing his interest in visiting this supposed cursed place and I quickly agreed to make the journey.
The first thing I needed to do was find out exactly where this place was. Though the piece in “Weird Massachusetts” was detailed on what “happened” there, there was no street address and no directions. Web searches turned up only vague instructions. I even called out to some friends who live in Massachusetts familiar with the place and no one could give me any information on how to get there. Were they trying to protect me from something? Could these stories actually be true? On the morning on Wednesday, June 8th, we set out on our journey to find it out for ourselves.
The unassuming entrance to Earle Street, where Spider Gates Cemetery can be found.
From everything we were reading, finding this cemetery was going to be difficult as everyone who had visited before had great difficulty. The ride to Leicester, MA was uneventful. We knew approximately where we were going and it wasn’t long, after helping some people move a large snapping turtle off of the road, before we found the actual entrance. There were no street signs or even any indication that far down the path would be what we were looking for.
The scenery walking in was breathtaking. There were “No Trespassing” signs everywhere but we kept going. Before long we found it…Spider Gates Cemetery. This old Quaker cemetery gets it name from the iron gates at the entrance that resemble spider webs. One of the rumors is that the entrance to the cemetery is actually the eighth Gate to Hell (though I have no idea where the other seven gates are). The gate was not locked and we entered without hesitation. The sign out front said that it was only closed after dark so we figured we were safe.
One of the things we did bring with us was a list of things that were reported here. The first thing we encountered was the hanging tree, immediately to the left as you enter the gate. According to the information we found it is supposed to be an oak tree but the tree immediately to the left was actually a sugar maple (and it was the tree featured in the picture of what I had printed online). The problem is that none of the stories have any proof and there is no way to substantiate them. Supposedly at one time there was a length of rope still hanging from the tree but there was none to be found on this day.
Interestingly enough, to the right of the gate, in the north-west corner of the cemetery, was a large oak tree that had a similar appearance to the sugar maple. I suppose either tree could actually be the hanging tree but even the oak was missing the length of rope that was supposed to be there. The next place we searched for is known as the Altar. This was to be found in the very center of the cemetery, surrounded by trees with a stone pillar at each of the four corners. Interestingly enough very little grass grows here but this is probably due to the trees surrounding the altar being twines as opposed to Satanic rituals. This squared off area is raised from the surrounding ground and is more than likely where the foundation of the Friends Meeting House used to stand.
Me standing in the middle of the Altar.
The next area we checked out was actually outside of the cemetery but along the East wall. This is a small area with many stone pillars and supposedly runes were found here (though there is no proof of this). It almost looks like an extension of the cemetery but the main wall is definitely original, and not added later. No body seems to know its purpose.
The next stop on our quest was the grave of Marmaduke Earle, which was easily found. The legend says that if you walk around the headstone ten times at midnight, saying “Marmaduke speak to me,” and then press your ear to the stone that you can actually hear him speak. Obviously people have done this as there was a worn out area on the ground around his stone.
Even though I was 12 hours early (or late) for this to be effective, I still gave it a try unsuccessfully.
One thing we did notice upon exploring Spider Gates Cemetery is that coins were left on some of the stones. Behind the cemetery is Kettle Brook, rumored to be the actual River Styx. This would explain why coins are left, so that the dearly departed can pay the ferryman. Behind the South wall is a path leading to the brook and we walked down to explore. This area was absolutely beautiful filled with all kinds of plants and ferns. We followed the brook and found what appeared to be the remains of an old mill with amazing stonework.
Me standing besides the River Styx.
Though we didn’t encounter any supernatural happenings (and no, nothing suspicious came out on our photos either) it was still a very enjoyable day. The weather was perfect and the landscapes were breathtaking. The cemetery itself is interesting, regardless of whether any of the stories are true or not (and from what I can tell, none of them are). It still made for a great day with great friends…something hopefully we can do again soon exploring someplace else that is supposed to be haunted.
Another shot of the hanging tree.
The amazing stone wall that surrounds Spider Gates Cemetery.
Me at the Eighth Gate to Hell.
17 thoughts on “Haunted New England: The Spider Gates Cemetery!”
Hi Dave!! I must say that this story is very interesting. Keep ’em coming!!! Between Rhode Island and Massachusetts…there are many “haunted” places. And I love hearing about them. 🙂
Thanks Lisa! I am hoping to visit many more!!!
I’ve been ghost hunting for 8 years now….you wanna hear stories? I have a ton. I have the Weird Wisconsin book. quality read.
We may have to do an interview with you Shaun!
That was a great article and what a lovely spot. I’d never heard of Spider Gates and am interested in local hauntings and cemetries. I’ll have to convince my husband to take a ride with me.
Thanks Coleen! It is a beautiful area and highly recommended!
You may think you know all about Spider Gates. Do you ? A lot of people think they do. But the fact of it is the don’t. So you go down there once or twice. And the next thing you know you’re an expert on the place because you thought you saw a ghost. In 1956 I was ten years old and lived in Nazareth home for boys just down the road. That was over sixty years ago. And I still go there. Back in 1956, Spider Gates was our playground for us kids. We used to sneak in there all the time. When Father Tinsley found out that we were hanging around in there, he gathered us all in the rec. room and told us the story about the hanging tree. After he told it not too many of us went back to Spider Gates. Around 1966 When I went back to visit, I talked to Father Tinsley about the old times. I asked him about the story of the hanging tree. He told me that it was made up by him to keep us kids away from the graveyard. Now, there must of been at least 75 kids that herd the story from Father Tinsley. Natrally when they all left the orphanage we took the story with us. In any case like most ghost storys there is more fiction than facts, otherwise the story wouldn’t be interesting. I moved to South Carolina about 10 yrs. ago and to my surprise a friend from South Carolina told me a story of the hanging tree in Spider Gates. So, I went on the internet and you could of knocked me over with a feather when I found Spider Gates on the internet. The very thing that Father Tinsley told us to keep us out of Spider Gates keeps drawing us back. I myself have hung around there as a kid, im 66 yrs old now And live in Auburn Mass. I hung around Spider Gates close to every summer in the 60’s and that’s when you could drive down there.We use to go there and drink and make out. There are places all around there. Like Devils Fork. The lady in the road. I plane to go back because last year I took a photo of the gate and a ghostly figure appeared on the on my photo. I still have that. At frist I thought it was the sun. But I moved into the shade and it was still there.
Saw your post
I was at Nazareth home for boys from 57 to 63
I remember Father Tinsley’s stories very well
I see you remember the root cellar we called it the Cave
We only made it to Spider Gates once
I lived in Greenville S.C. from 1969 – 1989 well actually FT INN
I see your back in Mass
In Texas now
Yes I do know the root cellar. We called it the whispering cave. Because one night we went there and we were just out side when we thought we heard voices coming from inside. I think it was the wind but no one that night wanted to go in and check it out.
Reblogged this on Patriot News II.
I have two pictures of ghosts from a visit to this cemetery! It has a very spooky atmosphere !
I would love to see them!
I remember at the beginning of my senior year of high school 96-97 at Doherty HS in the fall, I went to spider gates for the first time with 2 of my close friends. After seeing the first 2 cemeteries i remember walking down a narrow path and coming across a 3rd cemetery. When I returned to spider gates on several occasions I could never find the 3rd cemetery again, I actually researched spider gates 3rd cemetery and to find out that I was not the only person that this had happened to. Me and my friends witnessed that 3rd cemetery.
We visited Spider Gates today. It was my husband and I as well as our 4 daughters, and my mom. Well we just got home and I was going through the photos I had taken and my husband was going through his. A couple of his photos look like there is a ghost in the picture. He thinks we are putting too much thought into it but out all of the picture why do they look like figures.
Just a quick FYI- The cemtery is closed after dark. Due to its proximity to Worcester Regional Airport and the Reservoir, it is heavily patrolled by police and security, and sensors have been installed on Earle Road to alert police of trespassers after dark
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