This site looks best with Google Chrome. You can download it from the link below:

Mary James

An intriguing recent sighting in the churchyard of St Bartholomew, West Witton underlines the sad and frequent incidence of high infant mortality to the diseases and epidemics of the past. Recorded on one of the gravestones close to the South door, in a carved litany of woe, the James family headstone records how parents John & Mary lost four of their young children in a six week period in early 1868 to diphtheria. This perhaps accounting for the eyewitness report of the presence of a lady 'wearing long clothes' and standing over the grave carrying a baby in a basket...

On the evening in question in the encroaching twilight, the witness was returning home with her husband along the footpath running through the churchyard. Further along the path she noticed the figure of a woman standing over the grave wearing unusually old fashioned looking long clothes. Chiding her husband for not thinking to offer to help the stranger with her heavy load - the baby and basket obviously a cumbersome burden, before the husband could remonstrate and look back in the direction of the grave, the woman had vanished complete with baby, basket and all.

We can only assume that from her sorrowful stance this apparition was in fact Mary James, bereft mother mourning the loss of her young family. The first and eldest child to succumb was Catherine aged 6 years and five months, lost on 4th February 1868. Two weeks later Catherine's baby sister Mary Charlotte died on 18th February aged only 7 months. The tragedy continued with the death of their brother Robert William on 7th March aged four years nine months and then Elizabeth, a month shy of her 3rd birthday died on 17th March. Perhaps the baby carried in the basket was either of the two subsequent daughters born to John & Mary after the tragic deaths of all their older offspring. Catherine Elizabeth born in April 1869 was followed in June 1873 by Mary Charlotte, both daughters named for their departed sisters.

As the wording at the foot of the gravestone attests, indeed 'The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away'.


Silent Stones

Some Ghostly Ladies...

Horse Drawn Phantoms...

Last Orders & The Lost Cemetary...

Spiritual Stock-take

School Days

More Masham Manifestations...


Back to More Hauntings



You might also like: