‘Old Keeper Mayling’, who died a very old man, sixty years before Vicars Bell published Little Gaddesden (1949), was a lively raconteur who used to tell, among other stories, tales of his own experiences ‘back of Hog Hall and them parts’.
One concerned a phantom funeral apparently coming along Hog Hall Lane, like Hog Hall itself in the parish of Little Gaddesden but close to Dagnall:
There was six men in black coming up from Dagnall way, and they had summat in black on their shoulders, and there was others follering ’em two and two and all as black as Newgate’s knocker. So I gets down by the hedge to watch. But on they comes, so near I could ha’ touched ’em, and never a sound. Couldn’t even hear their feet fall, and it was a corpse as they carried, like they was going to bury it. They went right on till they come to the Barn, and all went in. I waited a bit, but I couldn’t hear nothing so I went and took a peek inside. And what do you think I see? Nothing. Not a sign of anything. They was all vanished.
‘Black as Newgate’s knocker’ was a proverbial saying referring to the door knocker on the old Newgate Prison, London.