Memories were still vivid in the 1930s of ‘the Agdell ghost’. Edwin Grey, in Cottage Life in a Hertfordshire Village (1935), remembered listening to working men talking about it. One said that ’ole Charlie Angell’ reported being ‘frit putty tidy’ (frightened pretty badly) by seeing it two or three times walking down Hatching Green drive. Another said:

I mind th’ time when ole Jimmy Luck an’ ole Charlie Angell was lookin’ arter th’ ’osses at th’ ’ole lady’s place (meaning Rothamsted Lodge). They’ve told me as ’ow, when they went ter feed ’em in th’ early mornin’, they found ’em sometimes all of a muck sweat an’ a trimble; they reckoned th’ ghost ’ad bin about there in th’ night.

The supernatural being usually credited with giving horses the sweats at night was the nightriding hag called the Nightmare (the ‘mare’ coming from Old English mara, a demon). However, human witches were also said to do this, and, although Grey did not know it at the time, ‘the Agdell ghost’ was supposed to be a witch. He learned her name later in conversation with an old lady who had lived all her life in the neighbourhood of Hatching Green.

‘I often think,’ said she, ‘of the time when I was a young girl, and of how we girls were afraid to go down Agdell path to the village on a dark night, for fear we might meet the ghost of old Ann Weatherhead …’

The old lady explained that in her young days this ghost was said to be that of an old witch or hag who lived years before somewhere in Agdell. Grey wondered if the tradition was connected with the place-name, which some wrote ‘Hagdell’.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008