Unveiling the Enigma: Exploring Spider Gates Cemetery and New England’s Haunting Past

There are pros and cons to living in New England. The cons are 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 being of a supernatural nature. 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 happening right in my backyard.

In 2012, I got my dream job, and many new co-workers shared some of my out-of-the-ordinary interests. One day, while talking to one person, in particular, who was interested in local history and folklore, we started discussing the Spider Gates Cemetery. 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. We quickly made plans to see if we could find this supposed elusive place.

The first thing I needed to do was find out exactly where this place was. Though the piece in “Weird Massachusetts” detailed what “happened” there, no street address or directions existed. Web searches turned up only vague instructions. I even called out to friends who live in Massachusetts and are familiar with the place. No one could give me any information on how to get there. Were they trying to protect me from something? Could these stories be true? On Wednesday, June 8th, we embarked on our journey to find out for ourselves.

From everything we read, finding this cemetery would 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 was only a short time after helping some people move a sizeable snapping turtle off 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 its name from the entrance’s iron gates that look like a spider web. One of the rumors is that the access to the cemetery is 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 front sign said 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 the book reported here. As you entered the gate, we first encountered the hanging tree immediately to the left. According to the information we found, it is supposed to be an oak tree, but the tree to the left was 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 proof, and there is no way to substantiate them. Supposedly at one time, a length of rope was still hanging from the tree, but none was found on this day.

Interestingly enough, to the right of the gate, in the northwest corner of the cemetery, was a large oak tree similar in appearance to the sugar maple. Either tree could 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. The Altar was found in the 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 pines instead of 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.

The next area we checked out was outside the cemetery but along the East wall. It is a small area with many stone pillars, and runes were found here, according to legend. It looks like an extension of the cemetery, but the main wall is original and not added later. People need to learn its purpose.

The next stop on our quest was the grave of Marmaduke Earle, which we quickly 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, you can hear him speak. Obviously, people have done this as there was a worn-out area on the ground around his stone.

We noticed upon exploring Spider Gates Cemetery that coins were left on some stones. Behind the cemetery is Kettle Brook, rumored to be the actual River Styx. This explains why coins are left so the dearly departed can pay the ferryman. Behind the South wall was a path leading to the brook, and we walked down to explore. This beautiful area was 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 fantastic stonework.

Though we didn’t encounter any supernatural happenings (and no, nothing suspicious came out in our photos either), it was still a delightful day. The weather was perfect, and the landscapes were breathtaking. The cemetery itself is interesting, regardless of whether any of the stories are true (and from what I can tell, none are). It still made for a great day with great friends, something we can hopefully do again soon.

Remember to read other entries in my WEIRD PLACES series.

~David Albaugh

About Author

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: