This summer’s libraries wide reading challenge was the Creepy House Reading Challenge.
Images of creepy looking old buildings were identified from the archives’ collections and some were given a ghostly make over. Many of these buildings look as if they could tell a tale or two, and might even be a suitable place for a haunting.
Halloween celebrations are increasingly popular. Children and adults can indulge in fancy dress parties, fright nights and spooky sleepovers.
Traditionally it was known as Samhain, the time of year when the veils between the world of the living and the world of the departed were at their most transparent, making it possible to connect with loved ones and family who had passed over to the other side. The feast of All Souls on October 31st reflects this older tradition.
I had wondered whether to share my story of my first ever visit to the archives at Central Library many years ago. It involves my search for a man called Thomas Wilson, a draper with a shop on Market Stead in eighteenth century Manchester. I promise you, once I’d found him in the archives I never went near a ouija board again. In my defence, I was only a teenager at the time.
Looking through some information relating to a photograph in the Documentary Photographic Archive, I chanced upon a letter written by the donor in 1983. He was reminiscing about the Cheshire village where he had been brought up, and unrelated to the photographs he had donated, he shared the following terrifying tale. I think it’s suitably spooky for this time of year.
Miss Viggers told Walter that as a little girl, she would look out of the tiny window upon going to bed and see the bodysnatchers digging out coffins that had only been buried that afternoon, with the aid of 4 little candles on the corners of the grave, and the body would be taken away in a tiny cart drawn by a ‘hinny’ donkey which had tiny feet and never made a sound. She never mentioned it to people as a child as it would have been more than her life was worth. The mourners never suffered as they never knew – everything was put back – and country people didn’t bother too much as children were dying all the time, most religious people who were against such things were wealthy and could afford medicine whatever it cost. There was only the village bobby round there ever to be a danger and the snatchers could make sure where he was.
Walter used to say he would never believe the story except that Miss Vigger would not lie to a spider.
The witness to these bodysnatching activities was brought up in a pub overlooking the village graveyard. She went on to be the landlady of the pub, and was known for her discouraging attitude towards drinking. She must have known spirits don’t just come in bottles.