Bess and Sid often spoke of Pinfold farm being haunted. Bess recorded that the apparition of an elderly lady, clothed in a grey dress down to her ankles, her white hair gathered into a bun, appeared to many people at various times at the top of the staircase at Pinfold Farm.
Sid spoke of one spooky event that occurred when their father was at the end of his life. Bess had contacted him to say that if he wanted to see his father while he was still alive, then he should hurry to his bedside. Sid did rush but sadly, he was too late. He was standing there beside his father’s bed, head bent quietly in sorrow when he heard a mighty rushing and rustling noise on the stairs, a noise which roused him from his grief. Sid turned and opened the door to the stairs to discover that all of the wallpaper had fallen off the walls. This may be coincidence but what made the wallpaper fall off at that precise moment?
On another occasion guests were being entertained at the farm overnight. The farmhouse was large and had a long landing at the top of the stairs which led to all of the bedrooms. Two couples were accommodated either side of the stairs. That night, after all in the house had retired to bed and were sound asleep, the visitors were awoken by loud bumps and bangs on the landing. They rushed to open their bedroom doors, they flung them open in fact only to find themselves gazing at each other. There was nothing visible to cause the noises which had by then ceased. Sid’s two sisters Bess and Muriel, shared a bedroom and often spoke of ‘bumps in the night.’
During the family’s ownership of the farm, Sid and Bess’s father had cause to rent it to a family. TheMansfieldsmoved out to live at263 Yardley Road. The new tenants also experienced the ghost when one dark evening the old man of the family was making his nightly trek to the outside loo. He was suddenly stopped in his tracks when he saw a lady in a crinoline dress on the path before him. His errand forgotten, he hastily returned to the house in a very frightened state to relate what he had seen. Needless to say, the lady had gone when others went to investigate the old man’s sighting.
The outside loo features in two episodes of these tales and from my mother Bess’s notes it would appear that it seems to have been a deluxe throne room. It was in the garden, no water to flush it of course but it did have three seats, large, medium and small.
More humourous recollections concern Sid and Bess’s aunty Annie. She must have been a prim, Victorian lady and was usually dressed in a crinoline frock with a white apron in front. She used to sit with her money on her lap counting the value of it and when folk passed her by, she would cover her money with the hem of her apron. It was the same aunty Annie who was treading warily to the outside closet one night guided by the glimmer of her candle. The glimmer also attracted a marauding owl who swooped down to the candle and aunty Annie. There is no record of what happened to the candle or to the owl for the startled aunt fled in a panic from the scene.
Aunty Annie seems to have been the moneyed member of the family for she had built two shops and a house inYardley Roadand also possibly financed the building of houses inTiffield Road. She herself lived in one of the shops or at 263. Sid and Bess often had meals or slept there as children for their mother and father worked long hours at the off license.
In the back garden at aunty Annie’s house was a large and very old apple tree from which she insisted on having the first fruit as her right. On the morning of her death, the apple tree died also and was found fallen across the garden, its leaves scattering in the breeze.