Haunted Britain in C18th

The Headless Horseman

“The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane” by John Quidor (1858), depicting a scene from Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Creepy History 20. A Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitions by Francis Grose was published in 1787. The section on popular superstitions reflects on the beliefs of less enlightened “former times”, although Grose does note that a great “number of superstitious notions and practices are still remaining and prevalent”. Here is what he had to say about beliefs in the spirit world:

The room in which the head of a family had died, was for a long time untenanted; particularly if they died without a will, or were supposed to have entertained any particular religious opinions. But if any disconsolate old maiden, or love-crossed bachelor, happened to dispatch themselves in their garters, the room where the deed was perpetrated was rendered for ever after uninhabitable, and not unfrequently was nailed up. If a drunken farmer, returning from market, fell from Old Dobbin and broke his neck— or a carter, under the same predicament, tumbled from his cart or waggon, and was killed by it— that spot was ever after haunted and impassable: in short, there was scarcely a bye-lane or cross-way but had its ghost, who appeared in the shape of a headless cow or horse; or, clothed all in white, glared with its saucer eyes over a gate or stile. Ghosts of superior rank, when they appeared abroad, rode in coaches drawn by six headless horses, and driven by a headless coachman and postilions. Almost every ancient manor-house was haunted by some one at least of its former masters or mistresses, where, besides divers other noises, that of telling money was distinctly heard: and as for the churchyards, the number of ghosts that walked there, according to the village computation, almost equalled the living parishioners: to pass them at night, was an achievement not to be attempted by any one in the parish, the sextons excepted; who perhaps being particularly privileged, to make use of the common expression, never saw anything worse than themselves.

If you would like to read the previous Creepy History blog posts, just follow the links below.


  1. The Ghost of Westminster Abbey
  2. The Yeti with Fangs
  3. The Monster of River Ness
  4. The Accordion That Played Itself
  5. A Ghostly Visitor
  6. Corpse Candles
  7. The Flying Saucer (ok, orange)
  8. The Ghost Dog
  9. Spirits of the Hill
  10. The Sea Serpent
  11. Werewolves 2500 Years Ago
  12. Daniel Defoe’s ‘True’ Ghost Story
  13. The Killer Tree
  14. In Two Places at Once
  15. Transylvania Terrors
  16. The Congo River Monster
  17. The Haunted Bedroom
  18. The Ghost Next Door
  19. The Phantom Horsemen

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About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on junkyard.blog. Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com. Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in 18th Century, Books, Britain, Creepy History, Faith, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Haunted Britain in C18th

  1. Athena says:

    Great story…have shared to twitter

    Liked by 1 person

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