An 1841 Ghost Story.

It’s almost Halloween, and its the time of year when ghost stories are more popular than ever.

Halloween is a special time for me, and every year I celebrate it with my annual ghost walk, and this year, I’ve also created a collection of ghostly tales on my YouTube Channel.

So, in preparation for the big day I thought I’d delve into the 19th century newspapers and bring you a seasonal ghost story.

The following gem appeared in The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on Saturday the 3rd of April 1841:-


A correspondent has favoured us with the following true tale, which shows, as he says, that “those the country are as fond of the miraculous as the goodly towns-folk.”

Much confusion, in our hither to quiet little village of Plymtree, has been occasioned of late by the appearance of a ghost!

Most ancient houses are deemed “troublesome” and such has been long considered the case with Hayne House, in the above parish, about the precincts of which, after many years of absence, the ghost has once again appeared.


Only a few nights since, a gay young shoemaker, the rural lover of many a village maiden, was passing the iron gates of Hayne, “whistling for want of thought,” when, behold, standing in his oath the dreaded spectre appeared:-

 “—— An awful guest,
It stood, and with an action of command
Beckon’d the Cobbler with its wan right hand.”

The love ditty of this gallant knight of wax was at an end, as, with jaws distended he could only stand and gape.

The execrable shape glided past, disappearing as suddenly as it had come.


A night or two after this, a certain maiden, tripping it lightly onward, saw this phantom looking on her with pale and ireful glance.

Well, the news soon ran from mouth to ear, and on again; and many a tale was told of the direful goblin’s walk.

” What d’ye mean?, asked one.

“Did ‘er speak?”, enquired another.

No! No! (certes we have heard, that ghosts, like the ladies “never speak till spoken to.”)

No! they only knew they saw something.


Nights passed on, and nothing more was seen, though much was said to have been heard; for one evening, a pretty sempstress, with gown “tucked up“, felt while passing on in a pucker: she heard a sound, stopped and then “to run the faster tried.”

What could it be?

There again.

Oh! how foolish was I, – as I’m alive ’tis only my thimble jingling in my bag.’


Again people say with these last few nights a brave basket-maker saw some “awful form” having “three fiery heads; ” but further of its shape it seems this man did not wait to look upon, for putting his best leg foremost, cried, “I’m off,” and left the vision far behind.


A fiery hand is sometimes seen – and sometimes people meet there, each other, and both turn back, “as each from every pore distil a clammy dew.”

But now these tidings have now spread throughout the neighbourhood, many persons, lads and lasses, with many old dupes as well, resort to the haunted spot, in hopes of being honoured by a visit from the ghost!


Several, however, come from more distant parishes, to see, – “nothing,” blustering big of what they would do.

Truly the gentleman who inhabits Hayne must wish the ghost would he pleased to depart upon his voyage across the Styx; for the screeching of foolish women, combined with the bravado and hallowing of fellows, who by themselves would run away, convert the grounds into an asylum for the weak of intellect.


In this parish it is lamentable to see, that many persons will not go to church on a Sunday and hear a good sermon, yet will they spend the evening of that day, by idly loitering, staring after what never existed, save in the cranium of their own imagination, evaporating perhaps, with many, from the fumes of certain copious draughts of exhilarating fluid.