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The Laying of the Ghost of William Field
By Eleven Clergyman

In 1804, William Field, father of James Field, the local wheelwright, hanged himself in his barn at South Moreton with the 'hair line'. Various people were terrified shortly afterwards by an apparition in the stackyard, just south of the barn, which was supposed to be his ghost. This became so alarming that a body of eleven clergy from the neighbourhood met together to lay the ghost in the pond that was in the yard of the premises.

Two labouring men, John and James Parkes, desirous of seeing the result, hid themselves under the straw in the barn. As the clergy proceeded with the ceremony the ghost manifested his presence and demanded, which would they give him, the cock on the dunghill or the two mice under the straw? Fortunately, they offered the cock! Instantly the cock's head flew off and the body was torn to pieces; but it seems that the ghost was laid, for nothing more was seen or heard of it.

This story was told to the Rev. W. J. Betts, Rector of South Moreton, by Mrs. Alfred Cannon (formerly Mrs. William Martin and formerly Miss Rachel East). She was first married in 1868. It was also told by Mr. Thomas Money who said that when he was a boy, he was watering horses at the trough in the stackyard when something white suddenly appeared over the water and the horses stampeded all over the yard.

The story was also related by Mr. George Hall and others. Mr. Hall remembered the stake in the pond which was employed to hold down the ghost. He stated that on one occasion he derided the labouring men who were afraid to remain in the stackyard after dusk. He went himself but was suddenly confronted by some uncanny appearance which grinned at him from beyond a tree. He retired immediately! The actual date of the laying of the ghost is not known, but it was around 1850. Both Mr. Money's and Mr. Hall's experiences took place before the ghost was laid. The farm at which the ghost was laid was that to the west of Dix's Shop, occupied in 1924 by Miss Dixon.  

This story is almost identical to one told of Welford.

Edited from the Berkshire Local History Recording Scheme (1924)

 
 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.