Many a good ghost story has been told in Herefordshire over the centuries. Some ghosts can be identified and are known for their stories of love, loss and battles, others not so. It is one of these that is the subject of our story this week, the haunting of Burton Farm. Hauntings come in all shapes and sizes but the most noisiest and disruptive ones were thought to be linked to poltergeists. Some folk thought that these strange poltergeist occurrences were the work of fairies, others that minor demons were at large taunting the living. But none really knew why they were happening at all.
A Supernatural Event
In 1670 a supernatural event took place in a farm near Weobley which at the time caused quite a stir. Burton Farm was then owned by Thomas Tomkyns a well known landowner in the area. The farm had had its usual run of tenants over the years but in 1669 a new tenant Mrs Elizabeth Bridges took occupancy. Initially all seemed to be well but it wasn’t long before strange things started to happen.
Loud knocking but no-one was there
Elizabeth reported hearing loud knocking on her cottage door but when she answered no-one would be there. This unnerved her greatly as the door knocking would happen as soon as darkness fell and would continue randomly until the early hours of the morning. To her horror when she came down in the morning she would find her furniture had been moved.
Stools and benches would be upended and scattered across the room. Her plants and supplies of malt and grain were thrown about too as if someone had passed through in a rage. Elizabeth was a keen baker and would often find that her recently cooked loaves would go missing. Only later to be found in another room or hidden in baskets. She felt as though she was losing the plot.
As if all this wasn’t enough to contend with she would often find her vegetable plants in the garden dug up and replanted. Food would go missing, milk would be turned sour with vinegar and some of her cattle became very ill and died.
A Welshman to the rescue
As the days passed she grew more unsettled. Unsure of what to do Elizabeth called upon the locals for some help and along came John Jones. He was a loud, brave Welshman who was happy to come to her rescue. Sceptical but also intrigued he offered to keep watch for her and brought with him his loyal mastiff dog, a sword and a lantern. That night he pondered on the situation, were these activities undertaken by a supernatural being or was it something less fanciful. As he lay on his bed he began to feel nervous and a sense of dread filled his body. It were as though he knew something was about to happen and happen it did.
Within minutes a loud knocking on the cottage door began. The pounding took him quite by surprise. But he would never be ready for what happened next. Just as he was considering what action to take his bed chamber filled with cats. They circled and swirled around him all the time making the most hideous unworldly noise. The sort of noise that ears find most abhorrent. And as the hideous noise continued the windows broke with such force it startled John and he could feel his heart beating in his chest. He was rooted to the spot in fear. Not understanding what was happening his dog began howling and as with all good horror movies John’s candle blew out.
No amount of money would make me return
Standing in the dark John tried to process what had just taken place. He was a big man, larger than life some would say, a brave man he had thought, but as he stood replaying what had just happened it was all a bit too much for him and he broke out into a cold sweat. So scared was he, he ran out of the cottage leaving his sword behind. He never looked back and reported to the other locals that he would not spend another night in that cottage even if he were to be offered a hundred pounds.
As you can imagine this caused quite a commotion in Weobley village but no-one ever did get to the bottom of the strange happenings at Burton Farm.
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