A Christmas Ghost Story

How It Began.

In September 1939 the Clitheroe Territorials had received orders to join their battalion, the East Lancashire Regiment in northern France.  Nineteen year old Lance Corporal Billy Lakin and his mates were excited to be leaving their jobs in the cotton mills to reinforce the Maginot Line.

In May the following year, Germany invaded France, forcing the allied positions to retreat to the Dunkirk beaches for evacuation.  Lance Corporal Billy Lakin and his regiment,  walked across France  pursued by the Nazi advance, only to find themselves trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Eventually,  Billy and the survivors of the East Lancashire Regiment were evacuated to England. 

Map Showing the Allies Defensive Maginot Line, Named After French Minister of War, Andre Maginot.

On returning to Clitheroe, Billy, at the age of nineteen, was promoted to full corporal at the same time his good mate, John Grimes, seventeen years old, joined the regiment.
Billy promised John’s parents that he would look after their son and in 1941 the East Lancashire Regiment was posted to Crete.

 German Paratroopers Landing on Crete.

On the 20th May 1941 the German invasion of Crete began.

Corporal Lakin and Private Grimes were manning a Bren gun position when advancing German troops approached the allied defences.

British Soldiers In a Defensive Position With a Bren Machine Gun WW11.

The unit,  dug in shallow trenches came under mortar fire, and then heard a sound every soldier feared, the ‘whoosh’ of a flame flower. Billy told John to take cover behind a truck and as he dashed across open ground, John was hit by sniper fire. His mate rushed to his aide and saw he had been shot in the forehead.
John was dead.

The rest of the unit were captured and transported to Poland as prisoners of war.  Billy, wracked with guilt, blamed himself for John’s death.

In 1945 Billy finally returned to Clitheroe, having survived six years of unimaginable horror, four years of them in a P.O.W. camp.  While a prisoner and through the Red Cross, he had sent a number of letters to John’s parents, asking for their forgiveness.
He met John’s parents to tell them how their son had died, but could not look Mr. and Mrs. Grimes in the face. They bore no malice whatsoever towards Billy.

Christmas Eve 1968.

Every day since 1941, he had thought of his mates death, still blaming himself, unable to shake off the guilt he had carried for over twenty seven years.

On Christmas Eve in 1968, Billy made his way to his old T. A. hall to watch the Clitheroe amateur operatic societies festive play.

Clitheroe Town and Castle.

He was the last to leave, lingering, smoking a cigarette, looking at the front of the building and thinking of those happy days in the Clitheroe Territorials so long ago.  As he turned to walk down ‘Paradise Lane’, an alleyway leading to York Road, he heard a whisper, “Billy, Billy”.

He turned and standing a few feet behind him was a young man in a British Army uniform. It was John Grimes.
John was smiling and said,  “Billy, don’t worry about me mate. I am fine. Don’t worry”
Billy froze as he realised he was looking at the ghost of John Grimes. His legs buckled, and dropping to his knees on the damp cobblestones, he sobbed uncontrollably, releasing decades of remorse.
The apparition raised an arm and repeated,  ” Billy, I am fine. Please don’t worry about me”.
The ghost of John Grimes gave another smile at his old mate, waved a final goodbye and blended into the night.

Billy slowly got to his feet, tears streaming down his face. Too traumatised by what he had just experienced, he ignored the happy revellers wishing him a Merry Christmas. On arriving at home, he went straight to bed and fell into a deep sleep, the sort of sleep he had not had for years.

Christmas Morning.

Early Christmas Day morning, Billy was awoken by the bells of Saint James’, Saint Mary’s and Saint Peter’s churches, joyously announcing that the special day of the year had arrived.  He got out of bed and strangely felt at peace. He looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and for the first time since 1941, smiled at himself.
A great weight had been lifted from him.
Billy could start to love life once again.

“Thank you John, and happy Christmas, wherever you are”.

This story, originally titled ‘Ghost Soldier’ was taken from ‘Ghostly Tales of the Unexpected’ by Simon Entwistle 2014 and is available on Amazon.

Merry Christmas, and hoping Santa brings everything you wished for!

Thanks for looking at Horrorboundbooks and see you in 2020!
For additional Lancashire stories of mystery and the supernatural, there are many more on this blog.

Photographs courtesy of Google Images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murder of James Fell

 

The Murder of James Fell.

On a May morning in 1906, the body of eccentric miser, James Fell, 61 years, was found on the floor of his dry-salter’s warehouse in St. John’s Place, behind the Preston Parish Church.

Contemporary Map of Preston City Centre identifying  St. John’s Pace.

The Attack.

James Fell had been attacked while he slept on the floor,  and still covered with a blanket he was bludgeoned to death with a spanner.

Preston 1909 With St. John’s Place Highlighted.

The Police Investigation.

A safe in the warehouse was found open and it was established that £5.00 was missing along with the victim’s silver pocket watch. The point of entry into the building was identified via a cellar window, allowing the intruder(s) to sneak upstairs and carry out the attack.

The Warehouse and Scene of the Murder With Two Detectives On the Left.

The Suspects.

Five months later, with no progress made with the investigation, a Martha Whiteside gave police information, leading to the arrests of Paddy Callaghan and Tommy “Buck” Beardsworth. She alleged that on the night of the murder, Callaghan had come to her home, admitting he and Beardsworth had murdered James Fell and she had helped burn his bloodstained cap and agreed to provide a false alibi for him if needed.

Both men denied the allegations, Callaghan insisting he spent the night in question with Martha, but had since separated and this was her way of getting her own back.

The Trial.

It came out during the trail at Liverpool Assizes that Martha Whiteside suffered from alcoholic delusions and that Beardsworth prior to his arrest had hurriedly married his long standing common law wife to prevent her giving evidence against him at the trail (a wife could not give evidence against her husband).

Callaghan was found “Guilty’ and a re-trail ordered for Beardsworth as the jury could not reach a verdict.

Liverpool Assizes.

At the re-trail Beardsworth was found “Not Guilty’,  despite evidence from another prison inmate claiming Beardsworth admitted being responsible for the murder.

Inside the Court of Liverpool Assizes.

On his release Beardsworth was chased by a furious mob waiting for him at Preston train station and he was forced to leave his home and seek police protection. His tripe shop on Stoneygate was extensively vandalised and eventually the police were able to smuggle him, his wife and his sister out of town.

Callaghan, waiting in his condemned cell and hours before he was due to hang, had his death sentence commuted by the Home Secretary to life imprisonment with hard labour.  After 20 years at Dartmoor Prison he was released and returned to Preston.
In 1938 Callaghan died in Sharoe Green Hospital, aged 68 years and buried in a paupers grave in Preston Cemetery.

Beardsworth was never seen in Preston again.  A soldier from the town came across him fighting in Europe during the First World War. He was wearing the uniform of an American Army corporal.

Present Day St. John’s Place. 

The Converted Warehouse Where James Fell Was Murdered.

St. John’s Place is a short narrow lane, still laid with cobblestones. It is overlooked by the grounds and former cemetery of the Preston Minster, formerly known as  the Parish Church of Saint John the Evangelist.

St. John’s Place Looking from Rose Street towards Church Street.

It is not surprising that a lingering visit to Saint John’s Place is included in the itinerary of many of Preston’s supernatural events/tours and ghost walks. Being overlooked by a Victorian graveyard, a brooding gothic church and old warehouses even today invokes  a sense of restive days gone by.

What would be surprising is that the ancient thoroughfare of  Saint John’s Place or the adjoining buildings are not haunted by the tragic spirit of James Fell or the many departed souls watching with interest from their final resting place.

Preston Minster from Church Street With St. John’s Place on immediate Left.

Reference sources: Chilling  True Tales of Old Preston by Keith Johnson, published by Owl Books; wikipedia & prestonminster.org.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

 

 

‘Notoriously Haunted’

Fulwood Barracks.

Fulwood Barracks on Watling Street Road, Preston is recognised as the most haunted military site in Britain and described as ‘notoriously haunted’ on The Duke of Lancaster’s Regimental Museum  website.

Entrance to Fulwood Barracks.

The Murder of Bombadier Short.

In the early hours  of the 16th February 1903, after a drinking session in the barracks, Gunner William George Hudson of the Royal Field Artillery visited the block of buildings where Bombardier Harry Short was sleeping, crept into his room in stocking feet, knelt down and shot him in the head, killing him instantly.

There had been bad feelings between the two soldiers for several weeks.  Bombadier Short had previously made a charge against Gunner Hudson of striking him and disobeying orders. He was acquitted of both charges but harboured seething anger against his senior officer.

Royal Field Artillery in action during the Boer War  1899 – 1902.

On the 12th May 1903, Gunner Hudson 26 years of age, dressed in civilian clothing, was hanged at Strangeways Prison, Manchester by public executioner William Billington.

The ghost of Bombardier Harry Short is reported to haunt the old sleeping quarters, now used as offices.

The Old Sleeping Quarters.

Hauntings in the Chapel.

Modern Entrance to the Barracks with the Garrison Chapel of St. Alban Above the Arch.

The chapel is the second oldest military chapel still in use by the British Army today.
There are many reports of supernatural phenomena and poltergeist activity occurring in the chapel and witnessed by staff, visitors, curators and investigated by a psychic medium. A TV crew, there to investigate the hauntings in the chapel experienced inexplicable electronic interference, failure and movement of equipment.

Inside the Chapel.

The Legend of Private McCaffery.

On Friday 13th September 1861, Private Patrick McCaffery while stationed at Fulwood Barracks, attached to the 32nd Regiment, had a disagreement with the Adjutant, Captain John Hanham. As a result he was charged with disobeying orders and sentenced by the camp commanding officer, Colonel Crofton to 14 days confined to camp.

Later that day McCaffery spotted the two officers walking across the parade square. He loaded his rifle, took aim and fired at them from 65 yards way. The bullet pased straight through Colonel Crofton’s chest and into Captain Hanham’s chest, lodging in his spine. Over that weekend both officers died of their injuries.

The Old Officers Mess,  Block 57.

On Saturday 11th January 1862, Private McCaffery was publicly hanged outside Kirkdale Gaol, Liverpool in front of 40,000 spectators.

Private McCaffery’s ghost still haunts the old officers mess, with many reports from serving personnel of his spectre being seen in what was Block 57.

Aeriel View of Fulwood Barracks.

The barracks was built between 1842 – 1848.

In November 2016 the Ministry of Defence announced that Fulwood Barracks would close in 2022, leaving just the ghosts to occupy the site.

Reference sources: Chilling True Tales of Preston by Keith Johnson; Wikipedia; Lancashire Evening Post website and lancashireinfantrymusuem. org.uk website.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wellington Inn Ghost

New Years Day.

It was the year 1839 and a group of work colleagues where having a drink in The Wellington ale-house on Glovers Court, Preston, celebrating New Year’s Day.

Two of them, William Bell and John Alderson, both joiners by trade, began arguing, Bell accusing Alderson of owing him a penny. Suddenly William Bell punched John Alderson hard to the head, knocking him off his chair. The landlord immediately ordered Bell off the premises.
Both men lived opposite each other on Pleasant Street and later that day, John Alderson left his house and began banging on the front door of his attackers house shouting for him to come out.

Pleasant Street, circa 1958, but would have changed little since the early Victorian days of 1839.

William Bell opened the door and an argument took place.  Bell was armed with a knife and stabbed Alderson in the heart, killing him instantly. His wife was present and witnessed her husbands death.

Bell was arrested and at Lancaster Assizes was found guilty of aggravated manslaughter and sentenced to transportation for life.

Penal Transportation.

Transported prisoners in New South Wales.

After 1776 all criminal transportation was to Australia, where the convicts would create colonies, build accommodation and work the land.

Conditions aboard the transportation ships.

The voyage took eight months to reach Australia and many prisoners died on the way.
It is not known what happened to William Bell, but he never returned to Great Britain.

The Ghost of John Alderson.

Since the tragic death of John Alderson one hundred and eighty years ago, there have been many reports of supernatural phenomena in The Wellington Inn attributed to the haunting by John Alderson, returning to his favourite ale-house.

Over the years, landlords, landladies, bar-staff, visiting trades-men and customers have witnessed/heard supernatural activity and poltergeist incidents have been captured on CCTV.

Unexplained noises, glasses smashing, apparitions appearing, dogs barking and growling at a presence invisible to the human eye, dogs refusing to enter bedrooms or the cellar have been experienced throughout the pub. The Lancashire Evening Post and the Paranormal Research Team of Lancashire have conducted investigations, along with a psychic medium concluding there is no logical explanation for what has and is continuing to occur in The Wellington.

These incidents have been subject of a tutorial module called The Psychology of the Paranormal at the University of Central Lancashire.

The Wellington.

The Wellington underwent a recent major refurbishment and is a popular city centre pub offering live music, home cooked food and of course a good ale selection.

The pub is regarded as one of the most haunted hostelries in Lancashire.

Reference sources: Preston’s Haunted Heritage by Jason Karl & Adele Yeomans; Chilling True Tales of Old Preston by Keith Johnson and Wikipedia.

All photographs courtesy of Google Images.

The Murder and Haunting of Emily Holland.

Emily’s Disappearance.

On the 28th March 1876, Emily Holland, a seven year old girl attending  St. Alban’s School in Blackburn, set off for home when the school finished at 4.30pm. She lived with her parents at 110 Moss Street, approximately 400 yards from the school.

She did not return home and was never seen alive again. Her parents reported her missing to the police that day.

Example of The Preston Herald

Gruesome Discovery.

A week later, a dismembered body was found wrapped in copies of The Preston Herald newspaper on waste land off Whalley Road in the town.  It was a child’s torso, minus the head, arms and legs. The body was identified as Emily by a birthmark on her back.
The next day her legs where found in Lower Cunliffe, and these were also wrapped in copies of The Preston Herald.

It was established Emily had been raped and her throat cut prior to dismemberment.

A huge manhunt followed to find the murderer and two rewards were offered, one for £100 and £200.

Investigation Breakthrough.

One of the police surgeons examining Emily’s body, Dr. Martland, discovered hairs of different lengths and colours, including men’s whiskers sticking to the body. He informed the police that Emily’s body must have been dismembered on the floor of a barbers shop.

The Net Closes.

Every barber’s shop in Blackburn was searched extensively by the police and suspicion fell on William Fish, who had a barber’s shop at number 4 Moss Street, near to where Emily lived. He kept a pile of The Preston Herald newspapers in date order in his shop, and when checked by the police, four issues, corresponding to those used to wrap the torso and legs were missing. Fish explained he had used them to light a fire.
He was arrested, but there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

A Dog Called ‘Morgan’.

Peter Taylor, from Nelson Street, Preston, saw the reward posters and offered Chief Constable Joseph Potts the use of his two dogs to track down the killer. He had a springer spaniel and a mongrel bloodhound.

It was April 16th,  Easter Sunday when the police chief, with several officers accompanied Taylor and his dogs to where the body parts had been dumped, but no scent was found by the two dogs. They then went to Fish’s barber shop, officers taking Fish and his wife with them. The part bloodhound called ‘Morgan’ soon picked up a scent on entering the shop and rushed upstairs, barking at the chimney in the front bedroom. Taylor reached up inside and from a recess pulled out the skull and other parts of Emily’s body, wrapped in more newspapers.
The skull was charred and had obviously been recently burnt.

Fish was immediately arrested for the murder of Emily Holland, and a few days later made a full written confession to the chief constable.

 ​THE CONFESSION.
Mr. Chief-Constable Potts then read to the court the following confession made by the prisoner Fish:-
Police Office, Town Hall, Blackburn,
17th April, 1876, 4.40p.m.

Statement made by William Fish, who has been this day brought before the magistrates on the charge of the wilful murder of Emily Holland, on the 28th March, 1876.

I told Constable William Parkinson that I had burnt part of the clothes, and put the other part under the coals in my shed; and I now wish to say that I am guilty of the murder. I further wish to say that I do not want the innocent to suffer.  At a few minutes after five o’clock in the evening, I was standing at my shop door in Moss-street, when the deceased child came past.  She was going up Moss-street.  I asked her to bring me one half-ounce of tobacco from Cox’s shop.  She went and brought it to me.  I asked her to go upstairs and she did.  I went up with her.  I tried to abuse her, and she was nearly dead.  I then cut her throat with a razor.  This was in the front room near the fire.  I  then carried the body downstairs into the shop; cut off her head, arms and legs; wrapped up the body in newspapers on the floor; wrapped up the legs also in newspapers, and put those parcels into a box in the back kitchen.  The arms and head I put in the fire.  On the Wednesday afternoon, I took the parcel containing the legs to lower Cunliffe; and at nine o’clock that night, I took the parcel containing the body to a field at Bastwell, and threw it over the wall.  On Friday afternoon, I burnt part of the clothing. 
On the Wednesday morning, I took a part of the head which was unburnt, and put it up the chimney in the front bedroom.
I further wish to say that I did all myself, no other person had anything to do with it.
The foregoing statement has been read over to me, and is correct.  It is my voluntary statement, and before I made it, I was told that it would be taken down in writing, and given in evidence against me,

(Signed) WILLIAM FISH
(Witnesses) ROBERT EASTWOOD, Superintendent.
                         JOSEPH POTTS, Chief Constable.

 

Trial and Execution.

Fish was unanimously found guilty of Emily’s murder at Liverpool Assizes, the jury coming to their decision in less than a minute. On 14th August 1876 Fish was hanged at Kirkdale Gaol, Liverpool.

It was one of the most infamous crimes of the 19th century.

William Fish became the first Lancastrian to be featured in Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks, London, displayed as the ‘Blackburn Butcher’ and situated in the Hall of Horrors.

This was the first recorded case of a tracker dog being used in a murder investigation. Due to the dogs success, bloodhounds were next used during the Jack the Ripper hunt.

The dog owner received £200 reward.

Moss Street.

The terraced houses and William Fish’s barber’s shop on Moss Street were demolished in the 1960’s. Even though Moss Street still exists, there has been a complete redevelopment of the area.

The Hauntings.

Local’s have recounted stories of a child sobbing, coming from within the barber’s shop before it was demolished and the many sightings of a spectral young girl moving along Moss Street and entering Emily’s house. There is a report of police attending the barber’s shop in the 1950’s to investigate the sound of a female screaming in the empty premises.

There seems to have been paranormal activity on Moss Street after the tragic death of Emily for decades to follow, but once the Victorian housing and murder scene were demolished, the hauntings stopped and maybe Emily found peace at last.

Emily’s grave survives to this day and can be found in Blackburn Cemetery.

Reference sources: Chilling True Tales of Old Preston by Keith Johnson; Ghostly Tales of the Unexpected by Simon Entwistle: http://www.cottontown.org; crimemagazine.com; lancashiretelegraph.com

All photographs courtesy of Google Images.

The Sun Inn Haunting

The village of Chipping on the slopes of the Bowland Fells in the borough of Ribble Valley and bordering Pendle Witch country, is at least a thousand years old and mentioned in the Domesday Book as Chippenden.
Chepyn meaning marketplace.

The Bowland Fells Overlooking Chipping.

The Vale of Chipping.

The Sun Inn.

The Sun Inn, 2 Windy Street, Chipping is a 18th century public house and Grade 11 listed building.

Lizzie Dean.

In the autumn of 1835, Elizabeth Dean, twenty years old arrived in the village and took employment as a scullery maid at The Sun Inn and worked with another maid named Elsie Trainer. Very soon Lizzie, as she was known, met James Freeman, a local lad and after a short period of courting he proposed and Lizzie excited and happy immediately accepted. They met the vicar at Saint Bartholomew’s Church and arranged a date to get married.

St Bartholomew’s Church, Chipping.

Two days before the wedding, James told Lizzie he had fallen in love with Elsie and called off their wedding day.
She was heartbroken but continued to work at the inn with Elsie, who had since accepted a marriage proposal from James Freeman.

The Wedding Day.

On the day of the wedding Lizzie made her way to a first floor room of The Sun Inn and as the church bells rang celebrating the holy matrimony of Mr and Mrs Freeman, Lizzie with a rope around her neck and tied to a bedstead, jumped from the open window.

The Sun Inn Looking onto St Bartholomew’s Church.

Screams caught everyones attention as Lizzie hung from the attic window and the mood turned from celebration to horror and disbelief. When she was cut down a note was found clenched in her right hand and read; ‘ I wish to be buried at the entrance to St Bartholomew’s, so my lover and my best friend will have to walk past my grave every time they go to church’.
Lizzie got her wish and to this day her grave is near to the church entrance, under a giant yew tree.

St Bartholomew’s Church Yard.

James and Elsie moved from the village soon after, settling in Carlisle and never returned to Chipping.

The Ghost Of Lizzie Dean.

For nearly two hundred years the ghost of Lizzie Dean has been seen and reported countless times at The Sun Inn by customers and staff. The hauntings have been featured on numerous TV and radio programmes including Paranormal TV

The Haunted Ancient Yew Tree.

There are six ancient yews in the graveyard, all hundreds of years old, but one in particular, the largest and oldest of the six, under which Lizzie Dean’s grave is to be found, is also said to be haunted by Lizzie. She has been seen to walk from The Sun Inn through the yew tree to her final resting place.

The Ancient Yew Tree In the Graveyard.

The Sun Inn has a lounge called ‘Lizzie’s Lounge’ and many still visit Elizabeth Dean’s  grave near the church entrance.

Chipping, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a multi-award winning village in Best Kept Village, Britain in Bloom and RHS Tourism and Gold Achievements.

Reference source: Ghostly Tales of the Unexpected by Simon Entwistle and Wikipedia.

All photos courtesy of Google Images.

 

 

The Haunting of Whalley Abbey

The Abbey.

Aeriel View of the Ruins of Whalley Abbey.

The ruins of Whalley Abbey, close to the banks of the River Calder, in the Ribble Valley of Lancashire are a Grade 1 listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  The site of the abbey was first consecrated in 1306 and the church was completed in 1380, but the remainder of the abbey was not completed until 1440.

King Henry V111.

For over a 100 years the chanting of the Cistercian monks echoed throughout the cloisters, but they were silenced in 1537 when Henry V111 seized the land and destroyed the abbey. This was part of the King’s Dissolution of Monasteries after he declared himself Head of the Church, dismantling Catholic abbeys, monasteries and friaries then appropriating their land and income.

Present Day ruins of the Abbey.

Anyone who did not recognise Henry as head of the new church were arrested and executed.

Engraving from 1564 Showing the Execution of Two Monks Who Refused To Swear The Oath of Allegiance.

John Paslew.

One priest who refused to bow to the King’s demands was John Paslew the Abbot of Whalley. He was born in the nearby village of Wiswell and had been in charge of the abbey for thirty years.

Gatehouse to Whalley Abbey.

John Paslew maintained his refusal to take the King’s Oath of Allegiance. He was arrested and held in Lancaster Castle and on the 9th March 1537 was found guilty of high treason. The next day the abbot was hung, drawn and quartered on Gallows Hill, near the castle.

The Last Days of Whalley Abbey by Charles Cattermole 1882, depicting the arrest of John Paslew.

The medieval torture of hung, drawn and Quartered.

The Ghost of John Paslew.

There is some dispute between historians as to where John Paslew was executed. Some say Lancaster Castle while others claim he was hung at the monastery gates and his remains buried in the abbey churchyard. A gravestone within the church is said to be the abbot’s tomb. Wherever John Paslew was executed, for centuries his ghost has been seen and heard within the ruins of the abbey. Apparitions of a hooded monk, ghostly footsteps and chanting have often been reported.

The Shay Cross.

The Shay Cross or Wiswell Cross, a Grade 11 listed monument is an ancient stone cross with the base dating to the 13th century, situated on Wiswell Lane near to the village of Wissel, the birthplace of John Paslew. The figure of a hooded monk has also  been seen wandering the lane between the Shay Cross and the site of Wiswell Hall (now demolished) the former home of John Paslew.

Reference sources: Lancashire’s Ghosts & Legends by Terence W. Whitaker; Lancashire Magic & Mystery by Kenneth Fields; Facebook Haunted History on 07/12/2014.

All photographs courtesy of Google Images.