Spider Gates Cemetery: The Eighth Gate to Hell?

Leicester Massachusetts



Field Investigation: November 17, 2001 & September 12, 2003

by Daniel V. Boudillion


New material September 2009




The #1 Spider Gates website in the Universe!



Spider Gates is a beautiful, secluded, old Quaker cemetery in Leicester Massachusetts.  Its actual name is Friends Cemetery, and is privately owned by the Worcester-Pleasant Street Friends Meeting.  Graves date back as far as the 1700’s, with interments as recent as March 2000.  Spider Gates is set back on its own private gated lane, Earle Street, about 800 feet from the main road.  The wrought-iron gate has a spider web pattern – hence the name.


The Spider Gate


Spider Gates has a spooky reputation and there are many rumors about it, spread mostly via the internet.  (For example: Spider Gates)  For one thing, it is said to be the Eighth Gate to Hell – or conversely – it has Eight Gates and if you go through all eight of them, viola!  You are in Hell!  So, take your pick.


Other rumors are as follows: A teenage boy hung himself from a tree by the gate in the 1980’s.  There is a strip of lawn where grass doesn't grow.  Something roars in the woods.  There is a central raised area twenty feet by twenty feet called "the Altar."  Satanists have permission to use it.  There is a second cemetery nearby that can only be found once.  There is a cave nearby where a girl was killed and mutilated.  There is a haunted house down a dirt road across from the gate.  There is white stuff that oozes from the ground.  It is haunted.  Voices are heard and things rustle when there is no wind.  The swamp is eerie.  If you turn over the rocks in an area just outside the cemetery wall, you will find runes etched on them.  And, there is that thing about Republicans holding midnight meetings among the stones. . . .


I initially investigated Spider Gates with Gary Boston on November 17, 2001, a crisp, clear autumn morning.  First, the cemetery was hard to find and we did quite a bit of driving around, feeling puzzled.  The road maps and topographical maps show Earle Street to be a public throughway, not a narrow gated private dirt road.  It took a while to sort all this out.  The cemetery is in the woods between the Worcester Airport and the Leicester Landfill.  Earle Street is several hundred feet up Manville Street from the landfill entrance.


We parked near the landfill and proceeded to bushwhack our way through the woods.  This was a mistake because it necessitated having to cross Kettle Brook, a rather vigorous small river.  In any event, we did indeed find Spider Gates.

Spider Gates is a beautiful cemetery in a sylvan setting.  It is a square cemetery on a small rise, surrounded by trees.  Its walls are aligned to the cardinal compass points, the gate being in the north wall.  We thoroughly explored the cemetery and the surrounding countryside for anything to substantiate its reputation as a magnet for unholy powers.


Spider Gates Cemetery


First – and this needs to be made clear – there is only ONE gate, not eight.  There is just one entrance - the main one with the wrought-iron spider web pattern.  The rest of the cemetery is surrounded by a well-made wall of laid stone.  Whether this truly is the Eight Gate to Hell, I can’t say.  Certainly, I did not experience anything untoward upon entering the cemetery through it.  As far as I know, I did not go to, nor am I in, Hell.  Gary, however, suggested that perhaps I’ve long since gone to Hell, so that’s why nothing seemed different in any way.  Ha, ha, ha, Gary.  (But he’s right, you know.)


Through the Gate in 2001!


The gates themselves are of interest.  They are of an unusual design, and said to be reproductions of originals, which are often reported on the Internet to be in storage or in a museum somewhere.  Although the pattern of the wrought–iron gates is said to be a spider web pattern, it is in actually more of a sunburst pattern with radiating wavy rays.  They have a distinct Art Deco look to them.  The Friends Cemetery Trustees Committee tells me that they are unaware of the location of the original gates of which these might be copied.  In fact, they question the rumour entirely and assure me they know of no gates from this cemetery that are in storage or in a museum.  However, local residents have other opinions including eyewitness accounts from the 1970's of the gates being much larger and actually forming an arch that read "Quaker Cemetery."  Other residents have stated that one or more of the gates were replaced by the Southwicks at considerable expense in the 1980's after being stolen. 


The greatest Spider Gates reaction shot EVER!

From the good folk at Absurd Adventures Blogspot


The niece of Albert Southwick recently wrote to say that in fact according to Albert, one the current gates is indeed an original and one is a copy.  The original was apparently repaired somewhere down the line by his brother Thomas Southwick.  The niece of Thomas Southwick has also also confirmed this account.


This however does not square with certain eyewitness recollections from the 1970's that the gates were of a large arched variety (which the current ones are not).  If so, and if the recollections are to be believed, this would mean that the present gates are not only relatively new, but are also not exact replicas of their predecessors.  In any event, the debate continues, with eyewitness recollections of two very different style gates being originals.  I tend to put more weight on the Southwick's version, as they should know. 


Immediately to the left upon entering the cemetery is a large oak tree.  Attached to a fork about fifteen feet up is a short length of thick weathered twine that hangs down about a foot or so.  I would speculate that this is the "hanging tree."  There is no official record of anyone ever hanging themselves here, however, and I would guess it is the twine that gave rise to the rumour.  The twine does not seem bulky enough to facilitate a suicide and I doubt very much it would have been left up there if such an event did indeed happen.  You would think the relatives or police would have removed such a gristly reminder.


Other accounts of the hanging tree by local residents place it outside and to the left of the gates.   It is said to have had a length of rusty chain suspended from it which was used reportedly for hoisting a truck engine.  This tree is no longer to be found, nor is the large flat rock with "cult symbols" said to be next to it.


As for hangings, long time residents do not recollect any such thing in conjunction with Friends Cemetery.  However, there are recollections of a nearby event (8/10ths of a mile away) as follows: "There was a hanging in the 70's in the area on Manville Street heading towards Paxton Street near the reservoir [Waite Pond] on the left side.  A mother and daughter were out picking pinecones and found him.  I don't remember his name but it was in the paper.  He was a local boy and they found him with his hands and feet bound hanging from a tree."


None of these events - if indeed they exist - ever seem to appear in the local paper, the Telegram & Gazette.  However, conspiracy minded folk are always quick to point out a link between the  Southwick family and the paper - insinuating that any foul play at the cemetery is suppressed from the paper to keep any negative publicity about Friends Cemetery (and thus area Quakers) out of the public eye in the mostly Catholic community of Worcester.  When it comes to Spider Gates, there is always an answer for everything. . .


In the middle on a gentle knoll, in a grove of mature white pines, is the raised area called "the Altar."  This is an square raised earthen area about twenty feet large, and maybe six inches high.  At each corner is a granite post, accenting its square figure.  There are no gravestones within.  Although it is suggestively called "the Altar," this is actually where the old Friends Meeting House used to stand.  The flat square area is the footprint of the foundation. 


The Altar


The Altar - View Two

Just over the east wall, and built up against it, is a small twelve by six foot leveled area.  It is defined by granite posts at its corners.  However, it did not appear to be a grave plot, nor did it have an entrance into the cemetery.  I was puzzled as to its purpose.  As this was the area where the runes were supposedly found, I spent some time looking for them.  After examining both sides of pretty much every likely looking stone, I had to conclude that I did not find anything that appeared to me to be a carved rune.  But I did find some pretty nasty bugs.


Side Area

From here we searched for the place where the grass is said not to grow and did indeed find it over in the southwestern part of the cemetery.  This is a shallow trench about ten inches wide, two inches deep, and twelve feet long, and ran roughly parallel to the southern wall.  Moss flourishes in it but not grass.  If this were not a trench, it would appear much more mysterious.  I would assume after the trench was cut, that due to a difference in soil conditions at the lower level, it was colonized by moss rather than grass.


Moss Strip

As for the Satanists having permission to use the cemetery, I can only wonder where they sign up.  Is there some kind of roster sheet?  (Satanists: Twelve Midnight, Friday.)  In any event, I did notice that in one particular row of markers someone had placed a coin on top of each headstone. 


The coins on the headstones intrigued me, and I have since learned The Legend Of Marmaduke's Grave (Marmaduke Earle's stone is the one on the left in the picture below.)  The legend according to a local authority is:  "If you walk around Marmaduke's gravestone 10 times at midnight and say 'Marmaduke speak to me,' kneel down and put your head on the grave stone and listen he would speak to you."  My source goes on to say: "I have been there at night and I can say that you could hear groans of some sort but there is a house on Manville Street before the dirt road and the people who lived there are the Grangers.  They had cows and when they moo it could sound like groans and moans."  Could they be evil cows?


A second interesting bit of folklore came to light via a message board post by Poppy Z. Brite where it was noted that it was an ancient Greek custom to leave a coin in a grave to pay the ferryman's toll across the River Styx.  She went on to note that this is occasionally seen in various New Orleans graveyards for much the same reason.  This caught my eye because the nearby Kettle Creek is known in "Spider Gates" lore as the River Styx.  Is there a connection?  (There is also a modern custom of leaving a coin on a headstone as an act of respect.)


Coins On Headstones - Psychic Payphones?

A complete investigation of the cemetery did not reveal any white substance oozing out of the ground.  Perhaps it wasn’t the right time of year for ooze.  We did find a blob of white cement that had been poured out on the ground, probably during masonry repairs.


Some visitors report hearing a roaring from the woods.  Others speak of leaves rustling when there is no wind, and still other claim to have heard "voices."  All I can say to this that the cemetery is literally under the landing approach for Worcester Airport, and certainly there is the occasional roar, but from above.  Neither of us experienced "voices" or unnatural rustlings.


Our investigation of the immediate grounds complete, we looked for the cave where the girl was said to have been killed.  We did not find any obvious caves, but did find on the southern slope behind the cemetery a small overhang of rock.


Ledge Behind Cemetery


Also, not far away the old path of Earle Street crosses a once marshy area over a Shaker style laid-stone culvert.  The culvert was conceivably large enough to stuff a body in, but again there is the problem that there is no official record of a girl being murdered in this area. 




There is actually what is locally referred to as a cave in the near vicinity - more properly called a colonial root cellar - about a mile from the cemetery at the end of a dirt road called Sylvester Street.  The "cave" is a large manmade underground chamber large enough to stand up in and walk around.  Note: there was a murder near the cave - a 6 year old boy from the Nazareth Home for Boys was beaten to death on Sylvester Street by a 16 year old youth and dumped in Lynde Brook - about 7/10ths of mile from Spider Gates.


Sylvester Street Underground Chamber


Further along, the old path of Earle Street runs through a swamp and up a steep hill to Mulberry Road.  Interestingly, it is the base of the hill on Earle Street, and not the cemetery, that is the site where most of the reports of frightening encounters and "eerie" feelings have actually originated.  Grown men have been known to run from this spot in terror and for no known or obvious reason.  I, however, did not run from this spot in terror, and I can only hope this is not a derogatory reflection on my manhood. 


On the walk back from the base of the hill to the cemetery we noticed an overgrown and recently burned area on the right that looked like it had once been artificially squared and leveled. Further investigation has shown that this is the site of the old Manville School House.  The school was still standing as recently as 1941, but I have no idea what condition it was in and it is likely to have been abandoned well before that.  Correspondence with the Friends Meeting Trustees Committee shed little further light on the school.  All they were able to tell me is that a Quaker school did exist at one time somewhere in that area, but they were unsure if the Manville School was it.  However, judging from its close proximity to the cemetery, which is where the meeting house used to be, and the  extensive mill works in the immediate area (more on this later), it would appear likely that this was indeed originally the Quaker school site. 


Further investigation reveals local recollections that this was a one room school with 6 to 7 students.  Also, the former schoolmistress, Ann Southwick (now Ann Cutting), reports that the school was maliciously burned shortly after it closed.  When asked about the side area with the granite posts next to the cemetery, neither she nor her sisters recollect at his time what this area was for.  Ann, by the way, is 90 years old as of this writing, enjoys exceptional health, and is noted locally for her prowess as a senior league bowler.


Kettle Brook in Summer


Next we checked out the "eerie swamp" behind the cemetery, but due to the time of year it was dry, so we couldn’t really get a reading on it.  Not much further, however, is Kettle Brook, known by rumor to really be the River Styx.  Daringly following it downstream to a bend, we found the ruins of an extensive stone dam and mill.  There are also extensive waterworks and mill ruins upstream near where it crosses Manville Street.  Judging from the cemetery and the mills, it would appear this area was heavily used in Colonial times and is no doubt the remains of a once prospering Quaker settlement.


Old Mill - Kettle Brook in Autumn


We searched high and low for the second cemetery, the one that can only be found once.  We did locate a cemetery close by at a Catholic home for orphaned boys.  It was a sad melancholy little place.  On the way home we drove by it on Mulberry Road, thus finding it for a second time.  I would imagine this disqualifies it to be the one indicated in the rumor.


There is however, about a mile and a half as the crow flies, the well hidden and little known 1760's Elliot Hill revolutionary era burial ground which is tucked away in the woods on the north side of Marshall Street.  To get there on foot from Spider Gates you would have to cross two to three roads depending on your route.  I got the sense from the rumors that crossing roads to get there is not part of the magic formula of finding the place.


Elliot Hill Burial Ground


Where Earle Street crosses Manville Street it becomes an even less-traveled dirt road.  Supposedly, somewhere along it is a haunted abandoned house.  It is said there is a rusted-out car in front of it that is rumored to "come and go."  On my second visit, John Larochelle and I took the trouble to look for the house, but it turns out it is not actually on this path.  You need to take your first right, and then a right at the next junction, and it is about a half a mile or so further on the right, according to the topographical maps.  Recently I have heard that this house has been bought and is being renovated.  I leave the investigation of it to far braver and nosier souls.  In any event, I would imagine if it is being renovated that the rusted-out car that "comes and goes" is officially "gone."


However, for nature lovers, the old path of upper Earle Street is lined with some of the largest and consistently largest trees I have ever seen.  It is well worth the walk if only for this.  For those in the know, the west end of upper Earle Street comes out at Hot Dog Annie's, where the "dogs" are devilishly good. 


Is Spider Gates haunted?  Is it a home of Unholy Powers?  A Gate of Hell?  My visit did not reveal anything to confirm this reputation.  I found it to be a quiet, pleasant, woodland place.  But perhaps the true test is a nighttime visit and it has been noted that supernatural events tend to find those who aren’t actually looking for them.


Also, it appears that the legend of Spider Gates is such that nearby events have become associated with it as though they happened there.  The legends include murder associated with a cave, a hanging of a young man from a tree, and a second cemetery.  These events and places do indeed seem to exist and to have happened (if local residents are to be believed).  However - they did not occur at Spider Gates.  Rather, the popular reputation of the place is such that it seems that any odd or gruesome event in the local area if given enough time will be said to have occurred there. 

   Of You & YouTube

It is said that a forked tree at Spider Gates is used for conjuring the devil.  The idea is to place a large block of alabaster in the fork and recite the proper incantation.  This seems like a bit of effort, when if you really want to know the devil and his works, all you need to do is buy a Martha Stewart product.

Sadly, the much anticipated Spider Gates movie seems to have given up the ghost and their webpage has faded into the mists, no doubt a victim of The Curse.  However, thanks to the power of trespassing, and flagrant violation of the cemetery rules (see below), you can now see plenty of amateur ghost-hunter footage of Spider Gates on YouTube.  Hooray for YouTube!  Hooray for trespassing!


 Is that Martha?



Here are my favorite Spider Gates YouTube videos:


"Culjua" Presents: Spider Gates Part 1 , Spider gates Part 2, Spider Gates Part 3

      Blair Witch quality filmmaking and lots of interior vehicle shots.  Yes!





The Maine Ghost Hunters Presents: Spidergates Cemetery Leicester, MA

         Proving the power of bright tee-shirts over demonic powers.





"Kippsie2792" Presents: Spider Gates Trip

        Awesome outfits!  Where do I sign up? 






   Hooray for ebay!

In other excitement, Spider Gates products are all the rage on eBay.  You can now buy "Graveyard Dirt/Dust from Spider Gates in Leicester, MA," a swell gift, and for the art lovers there is "Haunted Spider Gates Cemetery Black & White Photo 8x12." 


Spider Gates Graveyard Dust:


Graveyard Dirt/Dust from Spider Gates in Leicester, MA

eBay Seller: "Graveyard Dirt or Dust, has been used in magick for centuries.  Used is spells of protection, to bring back a lost love, to get money that is owed to you, etc."


"I have been there numerous times, and find it a beautiful place full of spirituality. I have never experienced any of the things reported on the numerous web sites, but I can tell you that the energy there is good, and I find nothing but peace and love when I visit there. I go there to meditate and take in its beauty and spiritual power. There is a stream that runs just before you get to the gates which is cleansing. The Green Man has shown himself to me in the woods outside of this cemetery, so to me, its magick overshadows the legend told on the web.  This Graveyard Dirt / Dust was taken in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust on Samhain morn, 2008."


Bonus points - the seller provides a link to my website.  Oh, thanks, really.


Spider Gates B&W Prints:


eBay Seller: "I have reworked this shot into a solarized black and white print that delivers maximum spooky effect. Spider Gates is a very haunted old Quaker cemetery in Leicester Ma. much has happend there and is said to happen there. Tales of werewolves, hangings,  entrance ways to hell, and white beasts that fallow all who visit.  An inscrition on one of the stones best descibes this place, "Not one returns to tell us of the road which to discover we must travel too"  [The misspellings are the seller's.]

Bonus points - Werewolves!  Hooray for werewolves!


Haunted Spider Gates Cemetery Black & White Photo  


   Visitor Policy & Trustee's Statement

Spider Gates has acquired quite a bit of Internet attention over the last several years.  There are now numerous website devoted to its myths and rumors.  And that now-defunct Spider Gates movie didn't help.  This high level of interest and subsequent unauthorized visitations of the cemetery have resulted in a correspondingly higher level of police surveillance of the area.  In regards to visiting Spider Gates cemetery legally (it and the surrounding area are heavily posted with No Trespassing signs), I requested and received the following visitor policy on August 13, 2003 (updated 14 November 2005) from the owners:

Policy Regarding the Friends Cemetery in Leicester Massachusetts

Worcester-Pleasant Street Friends Meeting Trustees Committee


14 November 2005


The Friends Cemetery is a private cemetery, currently in use, owned and maintained by the Worcester Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). 


Anyone may visit the cemetery during daylight hours.  We ask that all visitors act in the same manner they would when visiting the burial place of their friends and relatives.  The cemetery is closed during the hours of darkness.


Photographs may be taken for personal use. Photographs, video, film, sound or other types of recording require prior written permission if they will be used on the Internet or for publication of any kind.  Investigations of the paranormal are not permitted.


Bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited. 


The cemetery is surrounded by the City of Worcester Reservoir property, which is posted with No Trespassing signs.  The area is regularly patrolled. Violations of posted area may result in arrest.

In recent correspondence with the Trustees Committee of the Worcester-Pleasant Street Friends Meeting about the cemetery, they made the following points:

"The Friends Cemetery in Leicester, also known as ‘Spider Gates’ is still an active cemetery.  We Friends have been somewhat amused, and, at the same time, somewhat concerned about recent publicity concerning supernatural phenomena at the site.  Frankly, we view the site as the final resting place for our members.  I have never experienced any supernatural phenomena there, nor has any member of the Meeting ever related having experienced such phenomena.


 We ask that visitors to the site recognize and respect the fact that it is still an active cemetery and refrain from activities such as but not limited to: use of alcohol or drugs, parties, séances, sexual activities, vandalism and investigations of supernatural phenomena.


 Satanists absolutely DO NOT have permission to use the site.  We would consider any satanic type activity there to be totally inappropriate to the purpose of the cemetery.  We would never give permission to any occult group to hold meetings there."


If you wish to visit Spider Gates legally and without hassle, it is my suggestion that you abide by the above rules, and also announce your visit to the Leicester Police Department.  Otherwise, even though you may be there legally according to the above Visitor Policy, you will probably still receive a visit from the police if you are there. 


For those interested in further information about Friends Cemetery, please direct your questions to:

Worcester-Pleasant Street Friends Meeting

901 Pleasant Street

Worcester, MA 01602. 

   Reader Correspondence & Pictures

I have received considerable correspondence concerning Spider Gates Cemetery since I first published this account.  If you would like to see what various readers have to say on the subject please see the Letters section.  If you would like to add comments or further information, please email me at: dvb@boudillion.com


Also, several readers have pointed out various things in some of my pictures.  Did the dark forces pose for a few quick pics?  You be the judge.  



Face                                                                       Dark Figure


The following two anomalous pictures were among a series taken June 18th 2004 by N. Woods at Friends Cemetery.  When I remarked in email correspondence that it resembled cigarette smoke, Woods stated that although she smokes, she was not smoking while the pictures were being taken.  As with all such unusual pictures, you be the judge. 



   The Greenboy

An interesting email came on 5 January 2005 from "Achilles", as follows:   "Hello, I just saw and read your article about Spider Gates.  On one of your picture the Hanging Tree.  There is a "Green" Boy sitting on the branch.  Ghost or just an Illusion?  You decide..."


Notice that in the crotch of the tree there does appear to be a small green sitting figure.  Achilles sums it up nicely with, "Ghost or illusion - you decide." 







   Photo Fakery & Photo Theft at Spider Gates

In mid October 2004 I became aware that two of my original pictures from this webpage had been stolen, doctored with image manipulation software to simulate "ghosts", and re-posted without my permission (but since removed - thank you) on Brian Calvin Anderson's www.spidergates.com website. 


For the full story, see:  Spider Gates: Photo Fakery & Photo Theft



Fake "ghost" photos of Spider Gates

get real. . .


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