Strange Happenings in the Cathedral Churchyard

  • 26 Mar 2020
  • Church Curiosities
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There is an area between Collage Street and Edgar Street where curious and tragic events have taken place, all of which were well reported in the press of the day. In November 1718 the whole of Worcester was talking about a girl named Mary Bentall who was troubled with a poltergeist. Berrow's Journal of that date reported that she worked in service for a widow who lived 'without Sidbury Gate, where stones were sometimes observed to fall out of the air, narrowly missing the girl's head as she was at work, particularly on one occasion, as she worked , a stone striking down a small support from the window. Whereupon her mistress taxed her if she had been guilty of murder. The wench assured her she had not, but she was strangely surprised that stones should at so great a distance from where she had lived at Little Wenlock, after the manner which they had done there, where she and her mistress had been so often frightened!.

'Her mistress at Sidbury dismissed her and she went to service at another public house in the College churchyard where she had not been there many days before stones, brickbats and tiles flew about her like hailshots,  to be great amazement of the family. So much that the maid declared she was weary of her life, seeing she could have no rest.

'Being examined about stealing a silk apron, she was also strictly charged whether she had not done some murder, being so haunted by some restless ghost. She at last confessed that her former mistress, in Little Wenlock, did poison her master, unknown to her, but the house being infested after the former manner, or worse, her mistress one day confessed to her that, not loving her husband, she has actually poisoned him, and sworn her to secrecy, having sworn to kill her if ever she disclosed it. The wench, however was committed into the castle, chiefly on account of the apron'.

One feels that when the girl was interrogated by the magistrates she would have confessed to any story, and that of the mistress poisoning her husband is typical of something concocted by a young girl under stress. It would be interesting to know what happened to the girl after she had been committed. Maybe it was done for her good and she found peace at last in the County Gaol.

Before the making of College Street the house of Edgar Street backed onto the Cathedral Churchyard, and in one them, at the house of Mr. Harris, attorney, another girl, a nursemaid, was the victim of flying bricks, with fatal results. On January 20, 1804, she was in bed with two children, when a violent storm arose. A stack of chimneys fell through the roof and killed her, but did not harm the children. The house seemed fated, for six years later, on November 10, 1810, there was another tempest and lightening struck the chimney, also coming into the room where Mr. Harris was sitting, burning his hands and eyebrows, his stockings and papers, and tearing down the wainscot on the opposite side of the room.

Strangely, in the 1960's, almost in the same spot, another girl, walking on the pavement in College Street was hit by flying bricks, when the chimney stack of the White Hart Inn fell into the road and killed her.