|Forum Home > Other Crimes and Punishments. > Bloxwich, The Severed Hand.|
A contributed tale from the dim and distant past, an innocent traveller, a severed hand, and a wailing ghost. All the ingredients of a typical Victorian horror story, except it was supposed to have happened many years before. The story is in a bleak winter setting, on the road from Stafford to Bloxwich, between 1800, and 1820.
Wallington Heath, just a small hamlet, clustered on the road to Little Bloxwich, was a mean little place in the 1800s. It's hard today, trying to picture the place as a bit isolated, but so it would have appeared to be at the time. Not much happened in the place, the inhabitants went about their business of Awl Blade and Shoe Tack making, and the women, probably looked forward to regular trips to Bloxwich Market. To spend the meagre earning of the menfolk no doubt, well, what would have been left after a few nights in " The Old Kings Arms ". On this day though, driven by an icy wind, the snow began to build up in large drifts on the Stafford Toll Road. From out of this almost blinding blizzard came the regular Mail Coach, it's driver, determined to keep to schedule, had ignored the passengers request, to halt at the last stop. and It had been a difficult last few miles. The Coach had become stuck several times, and, as was always the case. the irate passengers had been forced to get out and push. All except one, an attractive young women, frail looking, and holding a bolt of white Silk, as though her life depended on it. She seemed to be very shy, and to the question, " was it for her wedding gown ", she made no reply. Exhausted from the shovelling and pushing, they all settled down, in front of a roaring fire, and some well earned hot food. The young woman, now known as " Miss Silk ", was soon forgotten, and the landlord, a man called Thomas Somerfield, allocated a room for her at the top of the Inn, and she retired for the night.
Early the next morning, the Driver, Guard, and Postillion, who had shared seperate lodgings in a nearby cottage, arrived back at the Inn. The snow storm had abated somewhat, and they were eager to be off. The Horses, who had been stabled at the Inn, in the care of an Ostler, should have been ready, but they failed to appear. Now a bit angry, the driver set off to find out why. The stables. apart from the animals in question were deserted, of the ostler, who had only been taken on by the Landlord a few weeks earlier, there was no trace. The passengers meanwhile, hastily consumed their breakfast's, all except one, the shy and retiring " Miss Silk ". Not wishing to further inflame either the drivers, or her own husbands temper, Mrs Somerfield climbed the stairs in search of the missing passenger. She returned baffled, as the room was empty, and a search of the old Inn and the outbuilding began. The puzzle was solved a few minutes later, under an old Ash Tree.
Lying in the shallow snow under the tree, was the badly mutilated corpse of the missing Miss Silk. She had been savagely murdered with a Barn Sickle, her hand had been hacked off, and the precious bolt of white silk, which she had been clinging to throughout the journey, was gone. A grisly trail of blood in the snow, led all the way to the stables, and up to the loft, which were the quarters of the now missing ostler. He had packed his few belongings quickly, but had taken the time, to select the Landlords best horse. The tracks of his flight were ample evidence, that he had headed off in the direction of Little Bloxwich. Pursuit was arranged at once, but all to no-avail, the snow started falling again, making tracking impossible. Despite a hue and cry around the district, no trace of the ostler, the bolt of silk, or the stolen horse was ever found. One thing they did find though, the young womans hand. It was found on the ice, which covered a local pool called " Nicholls Pond ", and one of the fingers, which had carried a ring, had also been hacked off. A Doctor, examining the body, also discovered why the woman had not spoken, she had a defect to her palate, which also explained why nobody had heard her screams for help. She couldn't.
Tom Somerfield, no doubt grateful for the added interest the muder made to his trade, would not have been pleased with happened a few weeks later. Reports of the impression of a bloodstained handprint, appearing on the walls of the Inn, began to keep the superstitious locals away. No amount of denials helped, partly because it was reported that the stains of blood could not be washed away. There's no doubt that something un-nerved the normally bullying landlord, who shortly afterwards moved to another Inn in Bloxwich. Maybe it was the eyewitness accounts, of the figure of a weeping and wailing woman, under the Ash tree. bemoaning the loss of her hand. The old Inn began to aquire a bit of a sinister reputation, and it's not surprising that for a few years it stood empty. Then a local businessman, John Russell, bought the place, and turned it into a fine country house for himself. Not frightened of Ghosts was our Mr Russell. Around 1910, the house, which by then was called Wallington House, was sold on, and became a Convent. There were no further reports of any ghostly activity, perhaps the religious atmosphere drove it away. For anyone tempted to investigate, the house was demolished in 1964, although the wall may be still there, and who knows, the old Ash tree may be as well.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
You must login to post.