It’s an interesting way to look at haunted places.
Oh, I doubt many (perhaps most) assumptions about New Orleans’ LaLaurie Mansion. I’m not sure it’s especially haunted. (Several residents said it’s not.) Also, some of the legends don’t fit the owners’ real history.
But, the original LaLaurie Mansion was certainly the site of traumatic events and a horrible (and fatal) fire. So, some ghosts may linger.
In the Seattle Times article, like the following quote from Colin Dickey, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. (I’m reading that book, right now. It’s not what I’d expected. Lots of history. Lots of folklore. All of it connected to famous — and infamous — haunts.
Here’s the quote I like:
“Ghost stories in many ways are a way for us to approach our own history,” Dickey said, “and our own history is complicated.”
I’m going to think about that. At first glance, I’ll admit that most serious ghost investigators are not simple, take-life-as-it-comes people. Most are unusually bright, well-read, and interested in a wide range of topics.
What interested me are the 28% who said they have lived in a haunted home. (I’m in that group. I’ve lived in two that might be haunted, plus a third that was absolutely bizarre.)
I may try a survey like that, myself, to see how many people pursue ghost hunting because they’re already familiar with life in a haunted house.
Next, this may not be the world’s only haunted canal boat ride — and I’m not sure if it’s genuinely spooky — but if I were around Richmond, Virginia, I’d happily spend $2 for the experience: Haunted canal boat rides in Richmond.
After that, reading the latest ghost-related articles, I realized I’ve never questioned the word “boo!” Maybe I should have.
“‘The school is built on a site known as Green Gallows,’ Wolfe said. ‘In the 19th century, criminals were hanged here. We only found that out on Monday. The pub nearby is actually called the Gallows.'”
A leading Irish education site calls it Gallows Green, but — no matter what the name — it’s adequate reason for ghosts at the school.
They’re just unlikely to manifest in such preposterous ways.
Those are the ghost-related articles that interested me today. I’m sure there will be more as Halloween approaches.
If you find any fascinating news articles, I hope you’ll leave the URLs in comments.
Is the ghost of Albert Williams real? When I watched the April 2017 “Most Haunted” episode filmed at the Slaughter House in Liverpool, I was intrigued.
Albert Williams is a name that Yvette received from spirit, during the investigation. According to Yvette’s impressions, Albert “looked after horses,” may have been pushed down the Slaughter House stairs, and fell to his death, around 1913.
Or, did two young men die there, in separate tragedies?
And was the searching (and probably distraught) mother Emma, not Meg or Mary? The names sound similar and could be confusing, especially if the psychic impression isn’t clear.
It’s too early to be certain.
Meanwhile, I was not optimistic about finding a likely Albert Williams. Williams is the third most popular surname in modern Britain, with nearly 300,000 people sharing the name.
Also, the given name of Albert — often a tribute to the memory of Queen Victoria’s husband — was very popular in that era.
I expected to find too many “Albert Williams” around Liverpool.
To my surprise, a likely match emerged early in my research. In fact, this was one of those times when the research seemed too easy.
Did he want me to confirm his identity? I can’t rule that out.
Here’s the most likely match for the Albert who contacted Yvette.
Albert Williams (1900 – c. 1913)
Albert Williams was born in 1900 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, to Emma Graham, age 36, and Alfred Williams, age 40.
“Our” Albert Williams is shown in the following screenshot from the 1901 English census. I’ve circled his name on the census page. The family lived on Anglesea Road in the town of Liverpool. (Note that, in 1901, Albert’s father was a blacksmith.)
Next, here’s the 1911 census. (Again, I’ve circled “our” Albert Williams.)
In 1911, Albert’s father was working as an Engine Smith (engineer) for the Cunard ship line.
One of Albert’s older brothers, George, was an Apprentice Blacksmith.
(Remember, their father had been a blacksmith for most of his adult life.)
So, in 1913, it would be reasonable — in fact, likely — that young Albert (around age 12 or 13) might have “looked after horses” in Liverpool.
He might have worked in or near the Slaughter House location, too. It was a popular commercial area.
So, is this a match for young Albert who haunts the Slaughter House?
It’s more than likely. Here’s why.
I’ve found no records for this Albert Williams after 1911.
That suggests that he died young. Maybe as early as 1913.
Of course, there may be another explanation. Maybe I’d find this Albert Williams in later records, if I dug deeper.
Or, maybe this is the Albert Williams who died at the Slaughter House location around 1913… just as Yvette said.
Most Haunted may feature Todmorden Church in their fourth new episode (first airing 5 May 2017) in Season 19. That’s what I’ve read, anyway.
UPDATE: Yes, it was Todmorden Unitarian Church.
So, I decided to research Todmorden’s ghosts, anticipating a chilling Most Haunted episode, when this one airs on Really (Fridays at 10 PM).
I wasn’t prepared for what I discovered about Todmorden.
You see… some sites offer scant historical evidence to support a long-term haunting. I can spend weeks researching them, and find nothing weird, strange, or unusual.
Todmorden is the other extreme.
It has so many creepy and supernatural stories, I’m not sure where to begin. From bizarre crimes to UFOs, and from faeries to multiple hauntings, Todmorden offers more paranormal activity than most large cities I’ve investigated.
First, there are Todmorden’s many churches. Just one of them is the subject of the Most Haunted Season 19 episode. (At the moment, I’m not sure which one Yvette & her team investigated.)
According to Google, Todmorden’s churches include: Todmorden Unitarian Church, Central Methodist Church, St. Mary’s Church, Roomfield Baptist Church, Vale Baptist Church, St. Joseph’s RC Church, St. Michael’s Parish Church, and Walsden Methodist Church.
In addition, Todmorden features at least one former church, now privately owned.
Only a few of Todmorden’s churches — past and present — seem connected to ghost stories. Here’s what I found…
Christ Church, Todmorden
According to Wikipedia,
A double murder took place at Christ Church, Todmorden on 2 March 1868. The victims’ graves lie in the churchyard.
Miles Weatherhill, a 23-year-old weaver from the town, was forbidden from seeing his housemaid sweetheart, Sarah Bell, by the Reverend Anthony John Plow.
Armed with four pistols and an axe, Weatherhill took revenge first on the vicar and then on Jane Smith, another maid who had informed Plow of the secret meetings.
Miss Smith died at the scene, while the vicar survived another week before succumbing to his injuries. Weatherhill also seriously injured the vicar’s wife.
Local legend has it that the face of a young woman is sometimes seen in the window of the vicarage, now in private ownership.
From everything I’ve seen, that site looks like a great place to investigate… if you have permission, of course.
And then there are Todmorden’s Unitarian sites. They present lots of research possibilities.
Todmorden unitarian Chapel & Church
The story of Todmorden’s Unitarian Church isn’t simple.
(That alone could make it an intriguing site for research.)
In fact, there were two Todmorden Unitarian Churches, both created by the wealthy Fielden family of Todmorden. (Their castle, Rossendale, is also supposed to be haunted.)
John Fielden (1784-1849) was the head of the family. He was a radical thinker, an MP, and a generous man.
In the 19th century, his family’s Waterside works — a cotton mill — became Todmorden’s major employer.
Fielden was also a Quaker who converted to Methodism. Later, he became one of the founding members of the local Methodist Unitarian Society.
When the early Methodist Unitarian community outgrew their meeting room at Hanging Ditch in Todmorden, Fielden helped to build a chapel and then he cleared the Society’s debt.
Today, he’s buried in a plain grave (with no headstone) in the yard next to that original chapel.
(If I were nearby, I’d definitely explore that site for EVP and photos. Sometimes those “no publicity, please” types are the same ones with a lot to say, in retrospect.)
In 1864, after John Fielden’s death, the congregation was large enough to need a full-sized church. So, John Fielden’s three sons built what’s now known as the Todmorden Unitarian Church on their land at Honey Hole in Todmorden.
(“Hanging Ditch” and “Honey Hole”…? Those names are so odd, they’d be unbelievable in fiction. But, in Todmorden, which translates to “death murder” — see below for details — I guess those names are normal. They certainly increase my interest in visiting the area.)
Then, after the new Unitarian church was completed, the old chapel became a Sunday School.
For a more complete history of the chapel, the church, and nearby burial grounds and memorials, see the church’s Rootsweb page.
Supporting history was at Shadows of the Night, which hosted vigils at the church. (That link vanished in May 2018, but – in case it returns – the URL was: http://www.shadowsofthenight.co.uk/todmorden-unitarian-church )
St. Mary’s Church in Todmorden
The oldest Todmorden church, dating back to the 15th century, is currently holding services. It has a fascinating history, but no reported ghost stories. (Without specific ghost stories and research permission, I generally won’t investigate a church that’s currently in use.)
Todmorden Church Ghost Stories
So far, everything I’ve found is vague, even at the two churches with ghost stories.
Christ Church in Todmorden
This church (and what looks like a neglected burial ground) seems to offer the most promise as a ghost hunting site, but I’m told that it’s privately owned. For that reason, I can’t recommend initiating your own ghost investigation there.
The only consistent story I’ve found is related to the spectral image of a murdered young woman. She’s probably the one in the story I quoted earlier (above).
Her face appears in windows, and I found a story about her — as a “figure in white” — fleeing her killer, and running through the burial yard.
Todmorden Unitarian Church
As I explained above, this church (and related chapel) might be haunted. A few story elements indicate something paranormal. But, my research hasn’t turned up anything credible and concrete.
Some groups offer ghost vigils at this Todmorden church. Initially, I wasn’t interested in visiting. The lack of specific stories left me unimpressed.
But, with more research, I’m becoming more intrigued.
Todmorden Castle, Rossendale
For me, the tipping point was Rossendale, Todmorden Castle.
According to Haunted Rossendale, it was built by John Fielden, the son of the man who built Todmorden’s original Unitarian chapel. (John was also one of the brothers who built what’s now called the Todmorden Unitarian Church.)
From start to finish — including an unhappy marriage, a reclusive wife, and this John’s tragic accident that followed his second marriage — Todmorden Castle’s story is bizarre.
And then there’s John’s first wife’s unmarked grave at Todmorden Unitarian Church. I’d bet she has something to say, if you’re able to record EVP there.
In my opinion, if even half the Rossendale tale is true, it’s classic “ghost story” material, and powerful enough to bring the church into the eerie, paranormal loop.
So, my interest in Todmorden Unitarian Church leaped from “ho-hum” to “can’t wait to visit.”
And, as I’m writing this, I’m really hoping it’s the Todmorden church that Yvette & team investigated. I’m eager to learn more about the site. (Update: Yes, that church was the focus of the Most Haunted episode. It definitely looks like a great research site.)
When I heard that, in German, “tod morden” means “death murders,” I was sure it was a hoax.
It’s not (see for yourself). That’s odd. (And, if you know how I choose research site, you also know that “odd” is what interests me.)
However, as Todmorden residents insist, there’s more to that story.
There is a written record of the area in the Domesday Book (1086), and a 1610 map shows the name as Todmerden (see the red arrow on the map, below).
Earlier names included Tottemerden, Totmardene, and Totmereden, generally translated as “Totta’s valley” or — less likely — “marshy home of the fox.”
I’m not sure that completely dismisses the German translation. “Double meanings” can leave an energy impression on a site.
The Pagan history of the town includes Blackheath Barrow, a (possibly) Bronze Age ring cairn above Cross Stone in Todmorden. The four cairns were positioned at the north, east, south, and west points of the compass.
That’s unusual enough to interest me.
The earliest paranormal legend is attributed to the 17th century, when lady Sybil, heiress of Bearnshaw Tower (above Cornholme), sold her soul to gain supernatural powers. (A pot of gold may have been part of the deal, as well. It’s definitely part of the Bearnshaw Tower legend.)
That story has so much support, as well as unusual consistency in the telling, I’m intrigued.
But, when it comes to strange and eerie events, that’s the tip of the Todmorden iceberg.
Todmorden Paranormal Reports
The following are just a few more of Todmorden’s paranormal connections and stories.
Bacup Road – Crypto reports of a brown cat that walks on her hind legs, accompanied by her pet dog. (Story from Masons Arms, which may now be closed.)
Barcroft Hall, Walk Mill (near Burnley Way) – A helpful entity (perhaps a faerie) who later cursed the family and led to its demise.
Between Todmorden and Mankinholes (once a Scandinavian settlement) – A Black Shuck (or a pack of them) that appears (and wails, loudly) on the night before Halloween. Maybe. (See The Paranormal Diary 2009 [PDF]. I’m not sure if “30 October” was misreported, and meant the 31st. )
Burnley Road and Todmorden – UFO reports in 1980, leading the town to be called “UFO Alley.” See The Mysterious Death of Zigmund Adamski, at Historic Mysteries. As UFO/abduction stories go, this has more credibility than most.
Centre Vale Park – Do beliefs create reality? Someone planted the story that patting a dog sculpture in the park brought good luck. Since that 2010 tale, similar (and darker) variations of the story became popular. I might want to see the sculpture, but I don’t think I’d touch it.
Garden Street – Spectral figure of an old lady walking up & down the street. (I found no documentation for this, so it could be wishful thinking.)
(The pub’s name gives me the creeps. I’m not sure I’d choose it as a place to relax and forget the troubles of the day. But, it has a great reputation and is popular with tourists as well as local residents.)
According to the Paranormal Database, the Slaughter House’s ghosts include two spirits who live in the cellar, and sometimes appear near the bar.
However, other reports suggest even more entities at the site.
Was it a slaughterhouse?
The obvious question is: Was the haunted Slaughter House really a slaughterhouse?
Mr. Slemen lists several previous owners and businesses at the Fenwick Street location.
I checked his research, and confirmed his results.
For example, I had no trouble finding Peter Edwards in the 1827 Liverpool city directory, with an office where the Slaughter House is, today. (His residence was 11 Portland Street. His office was 15 Fenwick Street.)
However, I’m not sure if Mr. Slemen studied anything before the late 18th century. (Generally, I like to go back at least to the 16th century, and as far back as the 14th – or earlier – if I can.)
Liverpool directories didn’t exist in earlier times, so it’s not an easy task.
Reports at the pub include the sound of a little boy ghost, hair being moved by invisible fingers, other poltergeist activity, and the sound of glasses clinking when no one is nearby.
The best description of the Slaughter House’s ghosts appeared in a 2004 article, quoted at YO! Liverpool.
Here’s some of that article:
[from the cellar] …We decide to go walkabout. On the “evil” stairs leading out, the ghostometer begins to sound uncomfortable and Billy claims he feels a presence but nothing too strong and certainly not malevolent.
We proceed to the top floor and it’s here, at the top of the stairwell, that Billy first detects something.
“The impression that I get here is that there was some kind of self destruction that somebody committed suicide. Somebody died in this area but it must have been some time ago. It was a man who hanged himself here.”
The ghostometer duly goes slightly bonkers emitting a fluctuating whine like that of the dentist’s drill. We head a little more quickly back downstairs where, back in the bar, it’s thought that it might be a good idea if Billy went back down in the cellar, alone this time, so as not to be distracted.
Billy, for some reason, doesn’t agree.
Minutes later Joe and I are perched on stools downstairs and after a brief surf with the divining rods – this area of the city apparently being awash with ley lines which convey psychic power – Billy has placed the ghostometer at the centre of the low stage at the far end of the room.
He then retreats to another stool on the far side where he sits occasionally stroking his chin apparently preoccupied in thought.
No words are spoken. The only sound is the warble of the ghostometer in mild distress.
Ten minutes later Billy springs up and walks over. “I’ve just been having a conversation,” he says calmly and then points at the stage.
“It’s a guy sitting over there. He says his name’s is Walter Langton. He worked here in the 1800s. He’s very rude and bad tempered and he says he wants to do me harm. I’ve told him he can’t. He chooses to be here. He also knows that we are here and he wants us to go. But I don’t feel intimidated.”
Billy then says that there is another presence on the stage. It’s a middle-aged woman dressed in grubby smock and bonnet. She’s possibly from the 19th century and called Meg or Mary. She’s unaware of us but is apparently looking for her son.
” He was crushed to death here,” adds Billy simply.
Needless to say neither Joe or I have seen or heard anything – it is, unfortunately, the drawback of the medium’s trade that concrete proof is hard to produce.
Nevertheless there’s an unnerving feeling that we’re not alone and there’s relief in finding the stairwell behind the bar – and not adjacent to Walter’s alleged spot at corner of the stage – to return to a curious Adam and co upstairs.
Walter Langton Research
Because Liverpool was a very active port in the 1800s, it’s difficult to pinpoint just one likely person.
Walter Langton might have worked at the site briefly, waiting for a ship to sail, or immediately after he arrived in England from Canada or the United States.
I found a Walter Langton, born around 1863 in Plymouth (England), who was part of the crew of a ship that docked regularly in Liverpool.
Casting a wider net, using “sound alikes” such as Langdon and Longton, I found a large array of Walters arriving and leaving on ships at the port.
A Walter Longton appeared in the 1871 census for Liverpool. He was a student and the son of a farmer. He was born around 1860. I have no further info about him.
My “gut feeling” is that the Slaughter House’s Walter Langton may have been a transient.
The word “shuck” may come from the word “scucca,” meaning “demon.” Or, it might be from a local term, “shucky,” meaning shaggy or hairy. (See Black Shuck at Wikipedia.)
My research also connected the sinister Shuck to real dogs and to the English Civil War (1642 – 1651).
The Black Shuck appears in the truly eerie Cabell family legends (basis of Conan Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles” story) in the town of Cromer, in Norfolk, England. That story had an English Civil War connection.
Likewise, the Yorkshire Wentworth family (in this new “Most Haunted” episode) faced tragedy during the Civil War.
For example, Thomas Wentworth, the 1st Earl of Strafford — shown at left, with one of his dogs — was impeached under the reign of Charles I, and executed in 1641 at Tower Hill.
(When King Charles I was beheaded several years later, he said his own death was a form of penance, because he’d allowed the execution of Wentworth.)
So, the Wentworth family history was turbulent. It’s the kind of story that often leads to hauntings. Any location associated with the Wentworths is a good site for ghost investigations.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure why these “shuck” stories seem consistently connected with the English Civil War. That will require more research.
However, similar spectral hounds have been sighted regularly:
Is the Black Shuck a ghost, or from the fae world, or something else altogether? I’m undecided.
Whatever it is, it’s disturbing. I’m not sure I’d ever want to see one. According to legend, anyone seeing a Black Shuck will soon die. (However, since there are reports by those who’ve seen a Shuck recently, I’m not sure I’d take the curse seriously. I’d just prefer not to test it, myself.)
I’ll be watching “Most Haunted” tonight (Season 19, Ep. 2) to see what Yvette & her team discover. Early reports suggest the ghost of Thomas Wentworth himself.
Also, if you’re a fan of shows like the Haunted Collector, they’re available on UKTV’s “Really” channel, too. (This week, the Haunted Collector has been airing at midnight in England, which is late afternoon or early evening in the U.S. See the schedule at the Really Channel website.)
And yes, the hashtag for this is #FrightDay (because it sounds like “Friday,” when new “Most Haunted” episodes air). I like that.