Posts Tagged ‘St John’

Cornwall Jail, Ontario, the jail had it’s last official prisoner in 2002, before the war of 1812 the original courthouse was used as barracks, the courts were held in St John church and local taverns. 14 years later it burnt down, the new jailhouse was completed in 1834. It has a plan for 50-60 prisoners but was often over capacity with around 100.

Only 3 guards were on duty at any time and exercises in the courtyard for example, could not be controlled. It’s possible this led to some of the suicides in the jail. One of the suicides took place in the building, belts and shoelaces had been removed but he still found a way to hang himself from the bars, after his suicide Plexiglas was installed. The second was a suicide that took place overnight in a busy prison, and it seems strange that even with it being overcrowded it took a while for anyone to find them, did they have a cell mate I wonder?

Ten inmates were hung at the gallows before executions ended in the courtyard in 1954. Peter Balcombe, a 24 year old man, was the last hanging at the jail on the 25th May 1954, he had been found guilty of murder. Many of those executed were buried in the courtyard, a new section was added in the 1960’s, three ‘cells’ were laid in the ground, supposedly they were used for punishment but there appears to be no record of their existence.

In 2005 the jail opened as a tourist attraction for Ontario, whilst it is there for a historic purpose there are also those who are interested in the paranormal side too. Reports have included hearing the sounds of trolley movement, cell doors that were closed the night before would be found open the next day; or vice versa. Numerous orbs have been caught on photography or film, staff have reported hearing a humming from a male, some believe that woman and children also haunt the jail. TAPS investigated and aired a show from the site.

Cornwall Jail

The village of Hayfield was found first in the Doomsday Book under the name Hedfeld and was a natural clearing in the forest at the foot of the highest point in the Peak District, and the southern-most point of the Pennine Chain. It was a mill village from the 17th Century onward and the village is a popular place for walkers, and visitors to the Peak District. There are a couple of interesting little legends about the area which is why I have picked them for the blog.

There are two churches in the area, St Matthew and St John’s Methodist Church (the third was de-consecrated and currently in use as a library) and St Matthew has existed there since 1386. It was previously at Kirksteads and was not completed until 1405, it was then largely rebuilt in 1817/18 and the remnants of the building are visible in the church crypt. The St John’s Methodist Church dates from around 1782 and claims to be the 13th to have been built, and although the building has been added too, the four main walls are entirely original.

31st August 1745 Dr James Clegg, the minister of a Presbyterian Church at nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith, wrote to the Glossopdale Chronicle (local newspaper) reporting that “hundreds of bodies rose out of the grave in the open air” from the graveyard of St Matthews Church. They then proceeded to disappear leaving Dr Clegg to remark something that sounds rather Lovecraftian or Poe in nature “… what is become of them or in what distant region of this vast system they have since fixed their residence no mortal can tell.”

The village also had its very own witch; in 1760 Susannah Huggin sold wooden weaving pins and bewitching charms. An old sailor brought one of the charms and then shortly afterwards he disappeared, she was then discovered to be back in possession of the charm. The villagers blamed her for his disappearance; she was dragged in front of the George Pub and pelted with rotten fruit and stones, to the point at which she was almost killed. Later on somebody from the Tom Hey’s Farm then took the little charm but after a series of disasters, including milk not churning and animals refusing to eat, the charm was then exorcised by a reluctant Reverend Baddeley.

Hayfield Church 0158.JPG
By Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7349638