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Pages (PDF): 344
Publication Date: 1900
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Chapters include: The Ghost Of Trinity Church, York; Peter Priestly, The Wakefield Parish Clerk; Prophet Wroe; Bishop-Dyke Pond; Snowden Dunhill,The Convict; James Naylor, The Quaker; 'Old Three Laps'; Christopher Pivett; David Turton, Musician At Horbury; John Bartendale, The Piper; Blind Jack Of Knaresborough; 'Peg Pennyworth'; Peter Barker, The Blind Joiner Of Hampswaite; The White House; Jemmy Hirst; An Oddity; The Tragedy Of Beningbrough Hall; A Yorkshire Butcher; The One-Pound Note; Mr. Wikes, Of Leaseholme; The Rev. Mr. Carter, Parson-Publican; Job Senior, The Hermit Of Rumbold's Moor; Nancy Nicholson, The Termagant; The Wooden Bell Of Ripon; Old John Mealy-Face; The Boggart Of Hellen-Pot. A Tale Of The Yorkshire Moors; Jonathan Martin, The Incendiary Of York Minster; Brother Jucundus; Mary Bateman, Witch And Murderess; and many more.
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Some years ago I heard mention made of an apparition said to have been seen in Trinity Church, Micklegate, York, which at the moment excited my curiosity. But as I heard no more about it, it passed out of my mind.
In 1869 I was invited to deliver a lecture at Middlesborough, when I met a clergyman who introduced himself to me as an old acquaintance. We had not met for some years, and then he had been a boy at school. About a week after I left Middlesborough I received from him the following letter:—
"Easter Sunday Evening, 1869.
"Dear Mr. Baring-Gould.
"I venture, from the slight acquaintance I am happy to have with you personally, and the deeper one I have with your tastes from external sources, to enclose for your perusal a narrative of a perfectly true event, drawn up by myself some few years ago, at the request of some friends who doubted the truth of the circumstances therein related. If you have ever heard anything of it, and can help me in explaining it, I shall be grateful, as it perplexes me, as one always is teased when something which one cannot account for has been brought to one's notice.
"Mr. S—— is going in a few Sundays to preach at the very church in York where this took place, and this bringing again before my mind the spectacle I then saw, caused me to apply to my friends for the account I gave them, and I now send it to you. I could, if you are interested, supply some minor details, but better by word of mouth, if ever we meet again. The only correction I should make is this: You will find that I relate a sequence of events, and I am not quite satisfied in my own mind that I have given the order of the incidents exactly as they occurred, and it is possible that I may have inverted them. At the time I was so startled that I was more intent on observing the figures than noting what was the succession in the scenes, if I may use the expression. Indeed, each reappearance was a surprise; and when I tried to recall each incident in the order in which it occurred, I found that though I could recall the appearance distinctly before my mind's eye, yet I could not swear to which scene preceded the other.
"This was the only occasion of my visiting the church. I confess the impression left on my nerves was not pleasant, and I do not think I should like to risk the effect of a repetition of it. Apologising for thus troubling you with my experiences,
"I remain, yours very truly,
"P.S.—The Incumbent, Mr. W——, has left, and another, Mr. M——, has now the living of Holy Trinity, Micklegate."
The following account, dated 1866, was enclosed in the letter:—
"While staying in York at this time last year (1865), or perhaps a little earlier, I first heard of the apparitions or ghosts supposed to be seen in Trinity Church, Micklegate. I felt curious to see a ghost, I confess, if such a thing is to be seen without the usual concomitants of a dark night and a lone house. Accordingly I went to the church for morning service on a blazing hot Sunday morning in August last, with a girl about thirteen years old and her little brother.
"The east window of the church, I must explain, is of stained glass, rather tawdry, and of no particular design, except that the colouring is much richer in the centre than at the sides, and that at the extreme edge there is one pane of unstained glass which runs all round the window.
"The peculiarity of the apparition is, that it is seen on the window itself, rather less than half-way from the bottom (as I saw it from the gallery), and has much the same effect as that of a slide drawn through a magic lantern when seen on the exhibiting sheet. The form seen—I am told invariably—is that of a figure dressed in white walking across the window, and gives the idea of some one passing in the churchyard in a surplice. I say a figure, for the number is generally limited to one, and I was told that only on Trinity Sunday did more than one appear, and that then there were three.
"But I can vouch for the larger number appearing on other occasions, as on the day I was there, which was one of the Sundays after Trinity, there were rarely fewer than three visible.
"The figures began to move across the window long before the commencement of the service, when in fact there was no one present but ourselves. They did so again before the service began, as well as during the 'Venite,' and subsequently as many as twenty or thirty times, I should suppose, till the conclusion of the sermon.
"Of the three figures two were evidently those of women, and the third was a little child. The two women were very distinct in appearance. One was tall and very graceful, and the other middle-sized; we called the second one the nursemaid, from her evident care of the child during the absence of the mother, which relationship we attributed to the tall one, from the passionate affection she exhibited towards the child, her caressing it, and the wringing of her hands over it.