All Saint’s Bristol – A Very English ghost story

by MJ Wayland

While promoting my book “50 Real Ghost Stories” I have been interviewed by many regional radio stations, one of which was BBC Bristol. Before my interview, I discussed the hauntings of Bristol with the producer and he mentioned the Vicarage haunting – something that I had not heard about. Needless to say that within the hour I was scouring references and discovered a fantastic record of the hauntings.

The hauntings began in early April 1846 and took place at the Vicarage house of All Saint’s Bristol. Based on the references and descriptions, I am lead to believe the church in question is the ancient All Saint’s church on Corn Street and dates from the 1200s.

“The present occupiers Mr and Mrs Jones, the sextons of the church and one or two lodgers, have said that a strange visitor has made his appearance, causing such terror by his nightly calls, that all three have determined on quitting the premises, if indeed they have not already carried their resolution into effect”

Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette of May 7th 1846.

So what could scare the Jones and their lodgers? Surely the Jones with their duties so close to the invisible world should be able to deal with one roaming spirit?

The phenomena is one of manifestation and poltergeist activity that was so intense that Mrs Jones was reported to have said “being certain..that we will die if they sleep another night in the house.”

The Jones went into thorough detail of the phenomena they were experiencing to both the landlord and the journalists.

Corn Street, Bristol

“The nocturnal visitor is heard walking about the house when the inhabitants are in bed; and Mr Jones, who is a man of by no means nervous constitution, declares he has several times seen a light flickering on one of the walls. Mrs Jones is equally certain that she has heard a man with creaking shoes walking in the bedroom above her own when no man was one the premises, or at least ought to be, and was nearly killed by fright! The servant maid has however, had the unenvied honour of seeing this restless night visitor: she declares she has repeatedly had her bedroom door unbolted at night, between the hours of twelve and two o’clock – the period when such beings make their promenades – by something in human semblance; she cannot particularize his dress, but describes it as something antique, and of a ‘fashion long since gone’.”

The reports continue that the ghost is a ‘whiskered gentleman’ that takes pleasure in shaking the maid’s bed, where she often hides underneath the sheets when she sees him enter the room. Mrs Jones later claims that on witnesses the whiskered ghost entering her room that she leapt from the bedroom window and Mr Jones’ sightings resulted in him curling up like a ball and could not stop trembling.

Since discovering this fantastic ghost story I have checked many references through the newspaper and local archives and cannot find any conclusion to the story. Did the Jones leave the Vicarage? Is the ghost somehow related to the Black Monk that is seen walking down the aisle of nearby All Saint’s Church? Hmm the mystery continues..

Photo © Derek Harper (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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