Ghosts of Jarrow - some of the spooks said to haunt the historic town
Halloween is upon us once more, when ghosts and ghouls traditionally come out to play.
Jarrow is not immune. Read on – and prepare to quiver as we look at some of the spooks said to haunt the town.
Grey lady at Jarrow Hall
The beautiful Grade II-listed Jarrow Hall is a grand old Georgian construction, built in 1785 by the shipbuilder Simon Temple. It’s one of those places that just seems ripe for a spot of haunting. Indeed, it has held very popular ghost hunts from time to time.
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The ‘grey lady’ said to occupy the hall is Isabella Chaytor, daughter of Sir William Chaytor, 1st Baronet and Whig MP for Sunderland. Isabella was born in 1810.
In 1836 she married Thomas Drewett-Drewett, thereby becoming Isabella Drewett-Drewett.
Ghosts are often thought to be prohibited from a proper afterlife because they are piqued at some injustice, or have something on their mind. For example, Anne Boleyn’s ghost at Hampton Court is most likely cheesed off at having her head cut off in 1536 for no good reason.
One possible grievance for Isabella Drewett-Drewett might be the surname she had to live with after marrying Thomas, who died in 1870. Isabella left this world (or did she?) in 1894 and the couple are both buried in St Paul’s churchyard.
The Drewett-Drewetts inherited Jarrow Hall in 1841 and nearby Drewett’s Park is named after the family.
But why is Isabella a ghost? She had a long life, especially for the time, of presumed wealth and privilege. So what happened to her that was so bad?
One of the last people in Britain to be gibbeted
Someone who most definitely had a grievance was Jarrow miner William Jobling. He remains keen to get matters off his chest to anyone in the Jarrow Slake area willing to listen to his spectral complaints about being executed in 1832 for someone else’s crime; the sort of thing that would irritate anyone.
On Monday, June 11 that year, Jobling and a fellow miner called Ralph Armstrong, were drinking in Turners pub in South Shields. They must have run out of beer tokens because walking later near Jarrow Slake, Jobling tried to tap money from Nicholas Fairles, a 71 year-old magistrate.
Fairles told him to sling his hook, which infuriated Armstrong who brutally attacked Fairles, beating him about the head with a stick and a stone before the boozy pair left him to die.
Jobling was arrested, tried and sentenced to be hanged on August 3. Armstrong, who had caused most of the damage to the magistrate, went on the run, never to be seen again.
William Jobling was the second last man in Britain to be gibbeted. This delightful practice involved hanging the guilty party before displaying their rotting corpse in a cage as a warning to potential wrongdoers.
His body was stolen, probably by friends who wanted to give him a proper burial – by the slake.
Keep an eye out for William “It Wasn’t Me, It Was Me Mate” Jobling.
Beer, wine … and spirits
As we all know, every pub in Britain is haunted. It’s actually written into the 2003 Licensing Act – but nobody knows who put it there.
This makes eminent sense if you think about it. If you were a spook, pondering where to spend your indefinite ethereal existence, you wouldn’t choose to spend the centuries clanking around a linoleum factory.
No. You would pick yourself a nice cosy boozer. One such establishment is the Lord Nelson in the heart of Monkton village.
The pub is not particularly old; it was built in the 1920s. But that is sufficient time to acquire a ghost. Rather a snazzy spectre he is too. None of your medieval rags.
In fact, according to the Haunted Hostelries, website: “Observers describe him as looking nothing like what one would expect of a ghost. He is wearing modern clothing with an open neck shirt and light-coloured trousers.”
He has been sighted walking behind the bar, from one end of it to the other. But he seems to be rather more groovy than scary.
Another reputedly haunted public house was the Robin Hood in Roman Road, now the lovely Italian restaurant Vespa. There has been a pub there since at least 1824. The current building was completed in 1896.
The clock on the wall was known to occasionally fly across the room. This could signify the poltergeist of a former drinker in the pub. Bar regulars seldom have an affinity with clocks, especially at chucking out time.
Bede’s Chair sits in the chancel at St Paul’s and is said to be where the Venerable Bede sat to compose some hugely important scholarly works.
In fact, the chair dates from the 14th century. So it’s possible that Edward III might have parked himself on it at some point, but not Bede, who had died about 600 years earlier.
Nevertheless, it’s still a piece of furniture with a longevity that even Ikea can only dream of and has a certain spiritual quality.
According to the ever-reliable ParanormalDatabase website, the chair reputedly grants fertility to newlywed brides, who will soon become pregnant should they sit on it. It has also been claimed that anyone sitting on it will be granted three wishes.
The first claim sounds dubious. Circumstantial evidence negates the second, given how many supporters of both Sunderland and Newcastle have probably tried their luck on the chair.