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.
- The Ghost of Westminster Abbey
- The Yeti with Fangs
- The Monster of River Ness
- The Accordion That Played Itself
- A Ghostly Visitor
- Corpse Candles
- The Flying Saucer (ok, orange)
- The Ghost Dog
- Spirits of the Hill
- The Sea Serpent
- Werewolves 2500 Years Ago
- Daniel Defoe’s ‘True’ Ghost Story
- The Killer Tree
- In Two Places at Once
- Transylvania Terrors
- The Congo River Monster
- The Haunted Bedroom
- The Ghost Next Door
- The Phantom Horsemen
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