Beverley, like most ancient cities, has its ghosts. One of the best-known apparitions was ‘Sir Josceline Percy’s Team’. William Henderson wrote in 1879:

The headless ghost of Sir Josceline Percy drives four headless horses nightly above its streets, pausing over a certain house … tenanted a few years back by a Mr Gilbey. This house was said to contain a chest with 100 nails in it, one of which dropped out every year. Tradition avers that this nocturnal disturbance is connected with Sir Josceline once riding on horseback into Beverley Minster.

Why he did so is unexplained. Possibly it was to visit his ancestral tombs in Beverley Minster. Sir Josceline was evidently condemned to ride through the air in his phantom coach until all hundred nails were out of the chest, as a punishment for sacrilege.

One Beverley ghost was unusual in serving law and order. According to A Glossary of Words used in Holderness (1877):

A phantom, popularly supposed to be the ghost of a prisoner who had committed suicide, and called ‘Awd simmon beeather,’ was said to haunt the gaol and appear to the prisoners, which acted usefully as a deterrent to criminals, who dreaded him much more than the confinement and punishment.

The glossary explains the simmon in Old Simmon Beater’s name as the pounded brick or tiles used by bricklayers to colour mortar. The back-breaking work of beating simmon was given to men in Beverley Borough Gaol who had been condemned to hard labour.



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