|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 11th September 1959, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Ghostly figure seen in the church yard
A ghost is said to be lurking at night among the graves in St. Mary’s churchyard at Rushden. It has appeared, if stories can be accepted, only during the past few days.
This is the spot at St Mary’s Church, where the ghost was reported to have been seen.
The apparition is said to have presented itself first to a twelve-year-old boy on Friday evening. It suddenly appeared in a corner of the churchyard, flitting across the shadows and ran up the church wall with a light. Then it disappeared.
Later, the boy told friends of his strange experience and some of them went into the dark churchyard to look for signs of a “ghost.” Others peered across from the gate and watched the general scene from across the road.
On this occasion several boys saw a white figure in the shadows, waving its arms about. It turned out that this figure was a bell-ringer who had heard the lads were ghost-hunting and decided to give them a scare by walking out in a cassock.
That was soon recognised as a hoax, but there was still insistence that some supernatural phenomenon had been there.
The words of a twelve-year-old boy developed as the story got about the town and several “explanations” were being put forward for the apparition.
It was accepted by some that the ghost did exist, that it was some tormented soul which resented being disturbed when bones were dug up and re-buried during the road widening works. Skulls or bones from 36 graves were recovered and re-interred during the course of the road works.
Who Broke Clock?
The accident to the church clock has now been attributed to this lost soul. Technically, it may have been the breaking of a weight in the clock which stopped the chiming of the hours, but apparently it was the influence of this spirit which was responsible in the first place.
The clock strikes the quarter hours but not the hours. If the ghost is responsible for this, it is denying the freedom of the churchyard to a fellow spirit which became common talk twenty years or more ago. It was rumoured that if a person ran thirteen times round the Peake tomb resting place of an old rector a vapoury figure would emerge from it. The running had to be done during the time the clock was striking the chimes of midnight.
Mild amusement is the only reaction of the rector of St. Mary’s the Rev. I. E. Douglas-Jones. He was on holiday during the ethereal visitation and did not hear about it until after the weekend. He was sure that the whole affair was inspired by a vivid imagination.
If there is a spirit, did it stop the clock bell in protest against the disturbing of the bones? If so, why has it only just appeared? The bell accident was in the early part of August, and if the moving of the bones had such affect there has been a long delay in spiritual activation, for the road works have been finished many months.
Assuming that the spirit has been set loose from one of the graves, one must ask about the spirits of the other 35. Why is only one about? Or could it be that the other figures may be mingled with the shadows of the night?
St. Mary’s would become a centre of attraction if there was supporting evidence of a further apparition. So far the most general attitude is one of disbelief, but some people have no doubts about the presence of a ghost.
A large crowd of children gathered and at one time numbered 200. They caused obstruction on the pavement and had to be moved by police.