Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Ghosts of Staffordshire Moorlands- Halloween Special

A couple recounted to me a curious episode when they were driving on the A53 near Flash. It was early in the morning and on the road they saw dressed in a very old fashioned way a rider on the road. The man was wearing a long brown cloak with an unusual design at the neck and a pipe stove hat, in short he was dressed for a person from the early 19th century. The couple were driving towards Buxton and were passing a path on the left which the horseman was turning to use. After only a few yards down the track the man and horse disappeared in mist in front of their eyes. The couple told me emphatically that they had seen something unexplained. They later carried out research which suggested the sighting was well known.

It is nearly Halloween and people will be out looking to see if they can experience a ghost. I have never seen anything although I did hear something odd in a Georgian house in Lancaster- it was the sound of a child skipping on bare floorboards in an empty carpeted room. I have frequently been told very strange incidents that have happened to local people. A Farmer told me that his dead father called to him over some fields at Rushton. A man claimed that a well in his house near Ipstones was haunted. A work colleague was clear that she saw the ghost of a child at a house in Leek. Locals in Bradnop claim that a ghostly dog haunts the grave of a dead Highlander. A friend researching a 19th century murder in the Peak District got the uneasy impression that he was being watched when taking photographs of the scene.

People seem to believe in them and in increasing numbers, both in Britain and in the US. In the case of the later over 50% and the proportion has gone up markedly since the Second World War. And women are more likely to believe than men. The idea that the dead remain with us in spirit is an ancient one, and one that offers many people comfort; who doesn't want to believe that our beloved but deceased family members aren't looking out for us, or with us in our times of need?.

But I shall end by recounting another Moorlands ghostly horseman- the Headless Horseman- who rides the hills around Onecote. It is a well established legend which many locals will know. I was talking to a local woman whose grandfather farmed at Onecote. One autumn evening he recounted the story of the Horseman to his young grand daughter. As he finished the tale they could hear in the lane leading to the farm the clip clop sound of a horse getting closer and closer to them. The sound unnerved the old man as he feared that the spectral rider was near. Fortunately it was a van with a flat tyre making the “trotting” sound.