Paranormal Northamptonshire by Anthony Poulton-Smith
In producing Paranormal Northamptonshire, I gathered many more stories than could be included. Omissions were based more on similarities to other narratives and geographical location than interest or quality. To leave them gathering dust on a metaphorical shelf would be an injustice and thus I have brushed them off and bring them as an addition to those who have read the book, or a taster for those yet to find a copy.
We begin in the county town and Shipman's public house. In 1996 landlady Diane West had heard many a report of a ghostly presence in her pub but dismissed them as she had had no personal experiences. That was until she collected some photographs from a local chemist. For some the idea of having to wait for a film to be developed before seeing the images must sound archaic in the extreme. For Diane that day, it was a revelation. Flipping through the snaps she found a shot of the inside of her pub and there, right alongside the fruit machine, stood an indistinct figure. From that day she was troubled by unexplained events – glasses began to move unaided, full pints sliding to the edge before leaping (not dropping) to the floor. Footsteps were heard on the stairs, bumps and bangs came from empty rooms, the bathroom a favourite target. These had always been explained as the work of Harry Franklin, a former landlord who, a century earlier, had slit his own throat. His suicide attempt proved successful, albeit it took him a week to die.
To Ecton, Northamptonshire, and another pub, the World's End. Our story comes from the 18th century when the A4500 was used by stagecoaches. As the coachman drove his team on faster and faster, he spotted a woman before him, her hand raised with the intention of boarding this route between Wellingborough and Northampton. The driver brought the coach to a halt and asked the woman where she wanted to go. It was then he could see under the hood of the cloak, where a ghostly skull stared unseeing back at him. Climbing back to his seat to continue, he discovered the horses refused to move until, with the aid of his whip, he forced them to take the longer route via Sywell Road. A woman, some say resembling a nun, is said to return every October 31st at that very spot.
Once, during the Napoleonic Wars, French prisoners were chained overnight at Thorpe Achurch en route to Norman's Cross. Stories of their mistreatment, even torture, by their British guards are unsubstantiated but reports of hearing their torments and agonies at the spinney have surfaced several times. Moans, crying and even the rattling of dragging chains – do the ghosts of the former foes still haunt woodland still known as Ratling Irons Plantation?
Finally, to Oundle where at the Talbot Inn is a staircase said to have come from Fotheringhay Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded. It is often said to be the former queen herself who is spotted here, usually between February and April. Sometimes she appears at the foot of the bed, staring at the occupant; others report being awoken by the sobbing of woman in the room; and another spoke next morning of being pinned to the bed when she awoke in the night. The latter told the staff and overheard by locals, was asked "Where's Mary?", the question immediately followed by a painting dropping from its hook with nobody nearby. Other mysteries include random fires breaking out, and unlocked doors refusing to open. Hopefully, those guests, unlike Mary, managed to keep their heads.
Anthony Poulton-Smith's book Paranormal Northamptonshire is available for purchase now.