A well-known legend of the nineteenth century concerned the ghost of Madam Pigott of Chetwynd. Some said she was killed by a fall from her horse while out hunting; more usually it was said that she died in childbirth, her cruel husband having remarked that he did not care, provided the baby lived, for ‘one must lop the root to save the branch.’ In the event, the baby died too, and Madam Pigott became a very troublesome ghost, not only in her former house but in the lanes round about. She would sit on a certain steep bank, or in a tree, or on a high wall, sometimes combing her baby’s hair, or accompanied by a cat; from these vantage points she would leap down onto the horse of any rider passing by late at night, and cling on till he crossed running water. She was especially vindictive (for obvious reasons) towards anyone who was riding to fetch a midwife. On the other hand, one woman described her simply as a ‘pale white figure sadly and silently wandering in the garden’ of her old home, and recalled being warned as a child to ‘put your apron over your head when she goes by, and she’ll do you no harm’.

In the end Madam Pigott, like many other Shropshire ghosts, was exorcized by a group of parsons who drove her into a bottle, which they threw into Chetwynd Pool. But one winter when there was skating on the pond this bottle got broken, and so she came again, worse than ever. Twelve more parsons repeated the exorcism, with a fresh bottle, and this time they threw it into the Red Sea, and she was never seen again.



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