In the seventeenth century, Braunston was the scene of poltergeist activity. As the first of four ‘Stories’ accompanying a letter by Mr Thomas Woodcocke dated 17 July 1691, Richard Baxter records:
Mr Mun, Rector of Stockerson in Leicestershire, had a Daughter married to one Mr Beecham, Rector of Branston in Rutland; in whose House it was frequently observed, that a Tobacco-pipe would move it self from off a Shelf at one end of the Room, to another Shelf at the other end of the Room, without any Hand. Mr Mun visiting his Son-in Law, took a Pipe of Tobacco in that Room, and looked for some such Motion; but a great Bible, instead of a Pipe, moved it self off from a Desk at the lower end of the Room, and cast itself into his Lap. Whereupon he opened the Bible at Gen.3.15. saying, Come, Satan; I’ll shew thee thy Doom: The Seed of the Woman shall break the Serpent’s Head. Avoid [Begone] Satan.
This Mr Mun himself told me, when in the Sickness Year, 1665, I lived in Stockerson-Hall. I have no reason to suspect the Veracity of a sober Man, a constant Preacher, and a good Scholar.
The ‘Sickness Year’ is that of the Great Plague of London, when anyone who could avoided the metropolis.
Mr Mun’s brisk dismissal of the spirit is paralleled only by the sangfroid of another gentleman whose encounter with the Devil at Lambeth is narrated by Baxter:
Mr Samuel Clark hath published the Apparition to Mr White of Dorchester, Assessor to the Westminster-Assembly, at Lambeth. The Devil, in a light Night, stood by his Bed-side: He looked a while whether he would say or do any thing, and then said, If thou hast nothing else to do, I have; and so turned himself to sleep.
Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson –
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008