In Kinlet church is a monument to Sir George Blount, who died in 1581; it was a focus for many tales about him in the nineteenth century. His two sons had died in childhood, but he had a daughter, Dorothy, who made a runaway match with a gentleman of the neighbourhood whom her father disliked. Tradition embroidered upon this, claiming that it was her own pageboy whom she fell in love with and married, to the fury of her father. He did not, however, disinherit her; instead, his ghost ‘came again’ to plague her and her husband, and their descendants, so that they had no peace. He lurked in a pool where women used to do their washing, and terrified them by rising up out of the water on horseback; he would even drive into Kinlet Hall in a phantom coach with four white horses, which he drove through the rooms and even over the dining table. Things got so bad that the family pulled down the original Kinlet Hall and built a new one, abandoning cellars full of wine and beer which nobody dared touch, for fear of angering Squire Blount’s ghost.

But trouble still went on, till at last a group of parsons with lighted candles contrived to lay him by their prayers, banishing him to the sea. However, several local people told Charlotte Burne that Blount’s fate was in some way linked to a small, flat bottle lying under his monument in the church, ‘with a little glass stopper in it which nobody can get out’. If the women cleaning the church saw children touching the bottle they would warn them, ‘Take care you dunna let that fall, for if it breaks old Blount will come again.’ By the time Charlotte Burne printed the tale, this bottle had been removed, but two of her informants remembered seeing it quite often in the 1870s, when they were schoolgirls; they told her how ‘on one occasion one of their school-fellows had offered to try and pull the stopper out, at which they were so frightened that they ran out of the church.’ Other informants also recalled seeing the bottle, but gave a rational explanation for its presence; they said it had contained ‘some chemical liquid used for photography’ and had been left in the church by accident. This was also the explanation given to a later folklorist, Christina Hole, in the 1930s; as she sensibly says, no exorcist would risk leaving a bottled ghost where it could so easily be found and released.



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