The Sampford Ghost II


We shall use little ceremony in introducing our Readers to the subject of these remarks, as the subject itself does to the persons who are favoured with its visitations. We must give it an hasty slap or two and retire. Mr. CHAVE and his family (the tenants of the haunted house) must therefore be put in the witness-box, and we shall proceed to call a few facts to evidence.

The said Mr. CHAVE, then, it appears, has lived in the house he now occupies at Sampford Peverell about seven months. About seven months, Reader! for we beg that every circumstance, however minute, may be duly attended to. Before he came to this place to exercise his present business of an huckster, the premises in question were unmolested by its present troublesome guest; but Mr. CHAVE, the huckster, brings into the aforesaid premises two servants, the one somewhat stricken in years, the other a girl about 18, called SALLY. A person named TAYLOR (Mrs. CHAVE's brother) is also another inmate of the house, a young man about 25 years of age, whose employment we cannot learn, or even guess at, from any thing that CHAVE can have for him to do, but who is represented by the honest folks at Sampford to be a "wildish sort of a young man."

About a fortnight ago, two Gentlemen, from Taunton, attended the troubled house, and requested permission to pass the night in the haunted room:- TAYLOR looked out of his bed-room window, which is next to the haunted room, and only separated from it by a thin partition, and after satisfying himself of the respectability of the persons who applied for admittance, assured them that it would be of no use for them to sit up unless there were females in thehouse, for otherwise nothing was ever heard, and there were then no women in the house. Intreaties were in vain, and the Gentlemen alluded to retired, after a promise of being admitted the next mornign.

Accordingly they went to the house early on the next day, and were entertained by Mr. CHAVE with a history, compared with which Baron MUNCHAUSEN's Adventures form a series of probabilities. After having had the Monster described (very much resembling a black rabbit, only wonderfully larger!), and which, when pursued, escapes through the close palings of his garden in a moment, permission was allowed to visit the haunted room, but which was delayed by Mr. CHAVE a short time, because the maid-servants were not up. Proceeding at last to the chamber, TAYLOR's room was passed through. He was laying in bed, with a drawn sword on it. The unfortunate chamber was then examined, and agreeably to the prescribed mode of incantation, the floor was stamped upon, and the ghost politely entreated to favour his visitors with a few conversational thumps, but it was not so inclined. Not a single knock, tap, groan, or even a social grunt could be extorted from it, and all attempts at a friendly dialogue proved utterly fruitless. In the adjoining room where TAYLOR slept, some boards had been taken up. A considerable hollow depth appeared underneath, but how far it went Mr. CHAVE did not know! SALLY was interrogated as the attacks which have been made on her by the monster.

She observed, "it never come when there was any light in the room. She had caught it twice; that it was very large and heavy, felt like a dog or rabbit, and so powerful that she could not hold it; that it usually came as soon as the light was withdrawn, and vanished on its appearance; that she had repeatedly been slapped by some invisible means; and that she lately saw through the sheet, while her head was under the bed-clothes, a man's hand and arm, perfectly white!" All this in the dark too! Oh, SALLY!!!

Since the above stated particulars occurred, it has been ascertained that the ghost never visits SALLY while she is asleep; for this damsel, in the middle of the night lately, while two Gentlemen were in the adjoining room, having got into a profound sleep, and the ghost being perfectly peaceable, the experiment was tried by waking her. Soon after, SALLY, by her representations, evinced that the ghost had not forgotten her, though, like SALLY, it had thought fit to indulge in a little nap.

But what end is proposed in the conduct of so detestable a plan? Our Readers must have a little patience. We know the end in view, and the Public shall be very soon in full possession of it. In spite of the ghost's solicitude to be always in the dark, we are mistaken if we do not succeed in bringing it to light.

The Morning Post, Saturday September 1st, 1810.

Sampford Ghost


For some time past the house of Mr. CHAVE, of Sampford, in Devonshire, has had, according to current report, some "Supernatural Visitings". The following is the testimony of the Rev. C. Cotton, under the solemn sanction of an oath, dated August 18, 1810.

"And first I depose solemnly, that after an attendance of six nights (not successive), at Mr. Chave's house, in the village of Sampford, and with a mind perfectly unprejudiced, after the most minute investigation, and closest inspection of all the premises, I am utterly unable to account for any of the phenomena I have there seen and heard, and labour at this moment under no small perplexity, arising from a determination [got?] lightly to admit of supernatural interference, and an impossibility of hitherto tracing these effects to any human cause. I farther depose, that on my visits to Mr. Chave's house, at Sampford, I never had other motives, direct or indirect, avowed or concealed, but an earnest, and I presume not a culpable wish to trace these phenomena, to the true and legitimate cause. Also, that I have in every instance, found the people of the house most willing and ready to contribute every thing in their power, and to co-operate with me in the detection of the cause of these unaccountable sights, and violent blows and sounds.

Also, that I am so deeply convinced of the difficulty of proving these effects to be human, that I stand engaged to forfeit a very considerable sum to the poor of the parish, whenever this business now going on at Sampford shall be made appear to have been produced by any human art or ingenuity, collectively or individually exerted. Also, that I have in the presence of many gentlemen, repeatedly sworn[..] to the effect, namely - that they were not only utterly [?] of the cause of those circumstances which [?] us, but also of the causes of many other times equally unaccountable, which we ourselves did not hear nor see, but to the truth of which they also swore; no less [?] to their perfect ignorance of the means by which they were produced.

Also, that I have affixed a seal with a crest to every door, cavity, &c. in the house, [?ing] which any communication could be carried on; that this seal was applied to each end of sundry pieces of paper, in such a manner that the slightest attempt to open such doors, or to pass [??] must have broken these papers, in which case my [...] have prevented their being replaced without [..]; that none of these papers were deranged or broken, and also that the phenomena that night were as unaccountable as ever. Also, that I have examined several women, quite unconnected with the family of Mr. Chave; but who, some from compassion, have slept in this house; that many of them [..ed] the facts on oath, that all of them wished to be so examined, if required; and lastly, that they all agreed without one exception in this particular:-
"that their night's rest was invariably destroyed by violent blows from some invisible hand - by an unaccountable and rapid drawing and withdrawing of the curtains - by a suffocating and almost inexpressible weight and by a repetition of sounds, so loud, as at times to shake the whole room. Also, that there are more than twenty people of credibility, quite unconnected with the owner, or the present tenants of this house in question, who have related to me the most astonishing circumstances they have seen and heard on these premises; all of which they are ready to substantiate, if called upon, on oath.

Also, that it appears that this plot, if it be a plot, hath been carried on for many months; that it must be in the hands of more than 50 people, all of whom are ready to perjure themselves, though not one of them could possibly gain any thing by it; that the present owner is losing the value of his house, the tenant the customers of his shop, whom fear now prevents from visiting it after sunset, and that the domestics are losing their rest; and all these evils are with most exemplary patience submitted to, without any object but the keeping of a ridiculous secret, which, although so many are privy to it, and many more interested in discovering, hath not yet been divulged, although such a disclosure would be attended with circumstances highly advantageous and gratifying to any person who could be induced to discover it."

The above was sworn before Mr. B.Wood, a Master in Chancery; and the names of Mr. John Govett, and Mr. Betty, surgeons; Mr. Pulling, merchant; and Mr. Quick, innholder, all of Tiverton; of Mr. Merson, surgeon; and John Cowling, Esq. of Sampford; and Mr. Chave, of Mere, are selected from a crowd of witnesses to substantiate facts, which they declare are to them perfectly inexplicable, and for which they are utterly incapable to account.

The Morning Post, Monday August 27th, 1810.

Sampford Peverell by Magnus Manske

Woolwich ghost


The inhabitants of Woolwich and its neighbourhood have lately been much alarmed by the appearance of a Ghost of an unusual description. Some time ago a man hanged himself in the Rigging-house; and it is supposed his spirit not finding its subterraneous abode so comfortable as he expected, had thought proper to return above ground once more to prevent others from making the like exit. Its appearance is that of a faint blue light, but very evident in two of the windows of the Rigging-house; and is seen very plainly at intervals during the whole of the night, from the church-yard. Sometimes it is seen at one window, sometimes at the other; appearing and disappearing at unequal intervals. The inside of the windows is stopped with double canvass, it cannot therefore proceed from any thing within the room; and no external cause can at present be found for this extraordinary phenomenon. It has been seen, during the last fortnight, by many hundred persons; and such have been the crowd of spectators every night, that the Magistrates have ordered the constables to interfere, and prevent such a large concourse from meeting in the church-yard, lest they should do any damage to the tombs or walls. The first night it was seen, the sentinel doing duty in the dock-yard left his post, and since that period there have been two sentinels at each station. Its very distinct appearance, and the respectability of the persons who testify that they have seen it, could alone induce us to notice this surprizing appearance, which has hitherto baffled every attempt to account for it upon rational principles.

The Morning Post. Monday October 3rd, 1808.

Commissioner's Office, Woolwich Dock-yard. September 30, 1808.
Mr Editor - In order to do away the impression which the paragraph respecting the appearance of a Ghost in the Rigging-House of this Yard, is calculated to make on the minds of the credulous, I am directed by the commissioner to say, that it has been clearly ascertained to arise from the reflection of a light upon the windows from an apple-stall, on the rising ground opposite, called Parson's-hill, a little to the eastward of the Church-yard; and the cause (as stated in your Paper), of its "sometimes appearing at one window and sometimes at the other," was owing to the customers stopping to purchase fruit, who, during that time, took up different positions, so as sometimes to impede the light, and at others to admit of it freely reflecting upon the windows.
The statement of the centinel leaving his post, and of their having been doubled, is altogether false; the disposal of the centinels in the Dock-yard rests exclusively with the Commissioner, who has neither heard of the fears of any one, nor had an application to alter the strength of the guard, in order to arrest the ghost.
(Signed) J.Reed.

The Morning Post. Wednesday October 5th, 1808.

[I can't explain the dates]

Fortean creature in South Wales Valleys?

Robs Farmers' Yards and Terrorises People.

A correspondent writes:- What has now become widely known as the "Strange Animal" has for some time past haunted the thickets and farms in the vicinity of the village of Tonyrefail. Being neither a farmer nor a poacher, I have not yet seen our mysterious visitor, and this, added to the fact that the descriptions of it furnished me by several persons, who solemnly profess to having "caught just a glimpse of it," are conflicting, makes it, of course, an impossible task to convey to the reader anything like a correct sketch of it.

The only particular in which the majority of my informants concur is the animal's resemblence to a very agile monkey, and whatever it might be its presence in the neighbourhood is evidently a fact, and causes no little anxiety to many nervous, grown-up persons, while the mere mention of its name suffices to suddenly hush the ear-splitting vociferations of discontented youngsters.

Some persons inclined to be "waggish" and prompted by feelings of animosity towards the Theosophic creed have spread the rumour that it is a real, live, up-to-date Mahatma, but from the somewhat vague descriptions of the Perfect Being submitted to an altogether over-curious and scoffing world by reticent Theosophists I gather that a genuine Mahatma does not, as a rule, climb trees, make night hideous by nerve-shattering screams, terrorise innocent horses and cool-headed cows, devour raw chickens and murder guileless sheep, nor utilise the heads of over-inquisitive, conceited dogs for chewing-gum purposes. This is precisely what our strange animal does, or, rather, this is what it is accredited with doing by the innocents of Llantrisant parish. One reason why a better description of the animal has not been obtained is because it lurks during day time in some remote nook, enjoying unmolestedly the spoils of each nightly raid upon the poultry of aggravated farmers.

From the Western Mail, Saturday January 6th, 1894.