Posts Tagged ‘spooky’

This case is interesting because it was in 1804 and set out a legal precedent in the UK about self-defense; could someone be held liable for their actions even if they were the consequence of a mistaken/misguided belief…

Near the end of summer in 1803 a number of people claimed to have seen and even been attacked by a ghost in the Hammersmith area, London. It was believed that the ghost was a man who committed suicide the year before and was buried in the Hammersmith churchyard. It was believed he should not be buried in consecrated grounds, it was thought that suicide victims would not find rest if that happened.

3rd January, 1804 and a member of the armed patrols set up in response shot and killed a plasterer, Thomas Millwood. The man mistook the white clothes of Millwoods trade for the ghost and 29 year old Francis Smith was found guilty of murder. Mr Smith was tried for willful murder, and a witness stated she had warned the victim he might want to put on something that stopped him being all white, she had said he had already been mistaken for the ghost on a previous occasion.

Millwood’s sister testified that Smith had called on her brother to sop or he would shoot but he then fired almost immediately. The Lord Chief Baron Macdonald advised the jury that Smith’s character before may well have been good and there may have been no malice but the question was more if he had at that point shot with intent to kill.

Smith had not been provoked and had not made any attempt to apprehend the ghost, therefore he felt that the jury should be directed to find him guilty if they believed the facts presented. It took an hour for the jury to come back with a verdict of manslaughter. MacDonald said they could not deliver that response, it must be either guilty or acquittal, the belief that he was a ghost was to him irrelevant to the case. The jury then came back with guilt… MacDonald stated he intended to pass the case to the king, who had the power to commute the sentence.

Initially the trial stated that it was a sentence of hanging and dissection. It was commuted to a year’s hard labour. The publicity meant that the true culprit of the ghostly encounters came forwards, John Graham had been pretending to be the ghost so that he could frighten his apprentice, and his apprentice had been scaring the local children with stories of ghosts.

The impact on the law was that a question arose about whether the action taken under a mistaken self-defense would be chargeable, and it went to the Court of Appeal. It wasn’t clarified until 1984, when appellant, Gladstone Williams, had seen a man dragging a younger man along the street, the younger man was shouting for help. Williams thought that an assault was taking place and intervened, Williams had not known but the person being dragged had been caught trying to commit theft. Williams was then convicted of assault with actual bodily harm, and the Lord Chief Justice Lane referred to the debate when the appeal came up.

It was a problematic issue, Williams was trying to help albeit without understanding the situation he had seen someone in peril and thought he was doing the right thing. It was not unreasonable perhaps, that he stepped in trying to assist, the man was crying out for help. So in the end for Williams an appeal was allowed and his conviction was quashed… the decision was also later written into a more concise reference for law, Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, section 76.

And all this because a man dressed up in a white sheet and tried to scare his apprentice!

Hammersmith Ghost.PNG
Public Domain, Link

 

The name sounds like a fantasy town, unfortunately a town that is no longer there it having been in Ohio, USA. It was a mining community and little remains except for a few foundations, cemetery and an old rail-road tunnel that is the subject of numerous ghost stories.

It was never a big town with a peak population of around 100, the area was fairly isolated in the woods and walking the rail-road tracks was dangerous. One trestle was over Raccoon Creek, 50 metres from the tunnel and by 1920 five or six people had lost their lives.

The decline in use meant that the last family left in 1947, the town was then fully abandoned. By the 1960’s the buildings were gone. In 1981 a signal on the Moonville rail-track was erected, in 1985 the last train took that route in August and the tracks were removed. It is still possible to access that area but there only the abandoned area of the lines.

There is a ghost that appears in the tunnel and swings a lantern, attempting to stop trains that are no longer running. The other ghost walks the tracks near Moonville on the other side of the tunnel. 

B+O Engineers on the line would tell the each other about the ghostly lantern. Sometime in the 1920’s a group of men, some miners, were drinking and playing cards in a shack nearby. Full of moonshine and frivolity one inebriated chap wandered off with a lantern I hand off down the tracks. A train came from the other side and too drunk to think about backing up he waved the lantern, hoping to stop the train most likely. He was hit and killed and buried in the local cemetery, since then his aimlessly wandering ghost has been witnessed.

Another story is about a headless conductor but the details given seem less widely known than the lantern carrier. There are several accounts around a decapitated man who walks the tracks, often with a lantern, so I suspect this might just be an elaboration on the original tale.

London has plenty of ghostly tales, so I’ve picked one of the stories that caught my eye. In the early hours of some mornings a number 7 bus had been witnessed around the Cambridge Gardens, the last report was May 1990.

In 1934 it got public attention, a motorist swerved for what seemed no reason and was killed when his car impacted with a wall and then set fire. An inquest was duly helped and witnesses spot about the phantom bus. It was seen pretty much at the spot of the fatal accident. It always appeared around 1.15am, the time the crash occurred. It would race towards the driver, terrifying them as it came down along the centre of the road.

There would be no sign of a driver, there were no lights on either. Motorists would be convinced of the oncoming collision and swerve to avoid the bus. When they looked around again the bus had vanished without a trace.

You can take London Bus Tours that focus on the fact London has a great many spectres and ghouls. The history of London is both impressive and lengthy, from burials grounds, coffin’s transported on trains, London Tower itself and more.

 

Ghost Bus Tours Routemaster

Lancashire is my home county, so let’s mention a ghost or few! Chingle Hall is described as one of the most haunted places in England, it’s a place with a lot of history back to the 13th Century. It was a place for sanctuary of the Roman Catholic priests, and there are priest hides there where they would try to avoid prosecution. The authorities would come in there and take those they found away to be killed.

With mystery movements of furniture or other strange occurrences the places spooks are documented. A radio producer spent the night there, the old floorboards were seen to be springing as someone walked across, he and his other companions state they saw a solid figure of a monk who drifted off and they found a priests hide.

There are so many happenings at the place that researchers are quite regularly brought in. With some photographs of vague misty outlines, weird anomalies and the key point is that many of them come from visitors who had not seen anything at the time, though of course many could likely be analysed as faults/badly taken photo’s… As with all anecdotal evidence it’s down to personal belief.

Two women feature more, one of the old owner who loved the place so much she did not want to leave. She is affectionately known as the Grey Lady. She’s even let people in and given them late night tours. Margaret Howarth was the name she gave to students and when they went to the local pub they were told she was dead.

Eleanor Singleton was allegedly imprisoned and abused at a young age by one of her uncles. She was locked in a room in the Hall and subjected to sexual abuse, many aborted children, four that did breath also died. The last one was deformed and spelt her end.  Women in particular report that the room makes them feel somewhat sick, some are left in tears as they walk away. The oppressive atmosphere has been noted by many visitors.

I vote we send in these guys 🙂