Monday, 4 December 2017

Creepmas Spook Sightings Of Yester Year No.1 - The Mid-Knight Bell Ringer & The Non-Spook of Boxley

Yes, I know this is the Black Knight ghost from Scooby Doo 2 Monsters Unleashed, and has nothing to do with the story, but it works well as a depiction of the ghost contained within....okay!? Tch...

Christmas has long been associated with the appearance of spooks and spectres, and it's a favourite time to tell tales of haunted houses and horrific happenings. Many people blame Charles Dickens and his A Christmas Carol ghosts of Christmas for this, but reading old newspapers from back in the day suggests that the Creepmas spirits go back quite a bit further than that, and the darker, longer, colder nights have always created the perfect atmosphere for a good scare...

Having signed up to the British Newspaper Archive back at Halloween, I decided to search their scans for Christmas weirdness, and so here begins another series of Spook Sightings, traditions and rituals and anything else I can find! 

First up is a rather odd story from the Sheffield Evening Telegraph, dated Monday 24th December 1906.....




 A weird story emanates from Newton Stewart, but though strongly suggestive of a conventional Christmas tale, it is said to be solemnly vouched for inhabitants. 

The other day, it is said, a crowd in the Corn Market was suddenly startled by the appearance of an apparition, which, however, on being addressed by one of the bystanders, immediately disappeared. More, however, was to follow, for next night the whole town, it is declared, was aroused at midnight by the jangling of bells. 

Large numbers of people leaped from their beds, and, following the sound of the bells, they were led to the old castle, where they were confronted by a spectre in shining armour. From his helmet blazed dazzling light, which shed on all around a ghostly green radiance. No one dared approach the armour-plated ghost, and everyone stood wondering what was to happen. Suddenly, however, the spectre vanished, and after waiting for some time the mystified people returned to their homes. Though human rather than supernatural agency is suspected, no little alarm is said to prevail in the district.


Next up is one of those haunted happenings which quickly become apparent to not be what they seem...this is from The Dover Express And East Kent Intelligencer, dated Saturday December 24th 1859....


As Christmas has been, time out of mind, the appropriate season for "ghost stories", we have one to relate.  Mr Dickens's Christmas book is called the "Haunted House," and relates to the mysteries of no less than seven goblins, distributed among as many seperate rooms.  But the main features in all such tales are pretty much alike - "banging of doors, ringing of bells, creaking of boards, and such like insignificances." The chief difference between Mr. Dickens's narrative and ours is, that his is a fiction, and ours perfectly true.  The facts that we have to tell, then, are the following :-

Mr. Martin, of the Ashford road, in Boxley parish, near Maidstone, has, for several weeks past, had his household economy seriously disturbed by a number of mysterious noises, which became pretty regular visitants of an evening. There were violent ringings at the door bell; bangings of the doors; shakings of the window-frames and wainscot; and sounds of feet within and without the house, without anyone professing to be able to account for them.  Footmarks could even be traced across the garden to and from a brick wall about 9 feet high, denoting the path of "the ghost," to and from his nocturnal pastimes.  The thing was very annoying, especially as it was continued long beyond the term of an endurable joke. But how did the thing come about?

The police were applied to on the subject, and suspicion at first lighted on the servant.  She, however, was an exceedingly demure and even a pious body, terribly frightened herself at what was occurring, and relying confidently on having brought to the family "a two years' character from her last place."  The police, nevertheless, are not much given to romance, and they are very incredulous as to supernatural knocking at doors, bell ringing and footprints in high-walled gardens.

The mystery was entrusted for elucidation to Sergeant Featherstone, K.C.C., who, as a preliminary, placed a dispersed guard of constables all round the house as a corps of observation.  A policeman was also sent to the premises, not in the expectation that anything would occur while he was present, but to lull suspicion of any reserve being on the watch when he should depart.  He left about 9 o'clock, and shortly afterwards the back-door began to shake furiously.

The police on duty concluded from that "the ghost" was domiciled on the premises, and Sergeant Featherstone promptly taxed the servant girl with being the "mysterious visitor," in her own person.  After a little pretended indignation at such a charge, then some evasions and excuses, she "owned the soft impeachment," confessing that her object had been to divert attention from the late visits of some of her own favoured followers, and to preserve the good character which she had previously acquired.  The subsequent enquiries of Sergeant Featherstone brought some other circumstances to light, which show that the "character" was by no means deserved, but that the servant was, in fact, a precious hypocrite.  Her wages have been paid to her friends, and the delinquent has been sent home to her parents, who reside at Tenterden.


What I took from that last story is that I must track down "Mr. Dickens's Christmas book" Haunted House, as it sounds like it'll be a good read!  But yeah, it just goes to show that people back in ye olden times weren't always jumping to conclusions that such occurrences were necessarily supernatural.

Hope you enjoyed reading this though!? I'll obviously be posting a few more, so keep your eyes peeled for those, and I'll see you back here tomorrow for more Creepmas craziness! Laters, stuffers! 


  1. And now you have me intrigued also. I know what I’ll be reading in my spare time…

    1. Great, thanks! You've saved me the trouble of hunting it down! :)

      Thanks for stopping by, too!

    2. I’ve only read the first few chapters, but something is missing from these ghost stories. Mainly ghosts. So I did a little research and it seems that there is nary a ghost in the whole book. The “Cupboard Room” and “Garden Room” ones sound worth reading, so I’ll get to them yet. Still it’s a little disappointing when you’re in the mood for a good ghost story.

    3. Well that's a bit disappointing! I'll see if I can find some good old obscure Christmas ghost stories somewhere in time for next year's Creepmas. I haven't had much time to be reading anything this year!