The last Ealing Ghost story?

By Dr Jonathan Oates

A few months ago I gave a talk titled 'Supernatural Ealing'. I thought I had included all the ghost stories associated with the locality. However, I recently found that there was another, in a manuscript book about Perivale, written in the nineteenth century. It seemed a shame to let such a vintage ghost story go to waste, so here it is. The author was probably ‘Cain the Clerk’, who was a nineteenth century parish clerk of St. Mary’s church, Perivale, which was written down as part of a manuscript titled A Picture of Perivale, by an anonymous collector.

Perivale Rectory

           Above: Postcard of Perivale Rectory

The rectory in question is presumably the former Perivale Rectory which stood adjacent to the parish church until its demolition in 1958. After a brief description of the history and state of the rectory as it was in the early nineteenth century, our anonymous chronicler adds,  ‘Of course, a house like this, more than 300 years old & built close to the churchyard, could not have stood so long without having a ghost story belonging to it; accordingly, the rectory can boast of its Goblin Tale as well as any other old house in the Country, and which some jest loving and poetical varlet has celebrated in the following metrical Ballad entitled’


The Phantom of the Rectory


The Goblin of Little Greenford – A Fragment


‘Now guard thee, Sir Hugh, from the phantom foul,

That haunts the Chamber of redde!

For thou musty have no taper, Sir Hugh,

To light thee up to Bedde!

If thou canst say thy prayers, Sir Hugh,

The better ‘twill speed with thee;

Else thou hadst best return againe,

With speed to thy own Coun-trie!

Thou hast chauke [pledged] thy cups of wine [solemn word] too faste,

Sir Hugh, or thou wouldst not goe

To sleep in the Chamber of Redde this night,

Where the Fiend may work you woe!

Oh guide me but to the staircase toppe,

If the door lock once I handle,

And I have with me my Pocket Piustolle [dram bottle?],

I care not for fire or Candle!

Then a Cup of wine of flavour so fine,

Five times full he quaffed

The Parson then led him up the stairs,

Whilst the guests both drank & laughed!

Ere he reach’d the door, Sir High gave a loud roar,

The Guests ran as if you had shot ‘em

The Parson scarce reach’d the staircase toppe,

Ere he tumbled down to the bottom!

Oho, quoth he, I am downe, I see,

I could not have run so fast up!

The Guests nigh drunk did tremble & funk,

Whilst some their supper did cast up!

And now a squall was heard at the Gate,

The thunder fearfully rumbled

An overdrove Ox ran his head thro’ the Door

An owl down the chimney tumbled!

The Guests to the door did turn their eyes,

They all sate looking askew

And had not every Candle been out,

No doubt they’d have all burnt blue!

The Guests were almost dead with affrighte,

And did to shiver and quake,

Ive heard it said, their Tremor made,

The old rectory chimnies shake!

Grown tired at last of standing there,

The ox his head drew away;

The scar’d owl flew, up thro’ the flue

And the Guests faintly cried Hoo-ray!

And now had Sir Hugh got hold of the lock,

And he entered the chamber redde,

And he heard a moan, very like a groan,

As he groped to find the Bedde!

Now his head & a Post they chanc’d to meet,

(Twas the Bedde Post of the Bedde)

And a flash of fire he plainly saw,

And his portly nose it bled!

Then he took out his handkerchief

To wipe his portly nose,

And finding his head was not much broke

On with his work he goes

He felt his way, when to his dismay,

From the Bedde came a frightful groan,

I must get asbob! Though this ugly job,

Tho’ I had much rather be alone!

Full well I knew that a Fiend, black or blue,

Did haunt this chamber of redde,

But I did not forsee, such companye

Would insist upon shaming my Bedde!

I marvel on which side the Demon lies!

I’d fain have one side to myself

Then he guessed by the swelling counterpane,

Where lay the perilous Elf

He turn’d down the sheets & crept between,

As a Tomb stone pale and dumb,

And (it seems) he chose to lie in his clothes,

For fear of his Phantom chum!

Now a fearful shout from the Bolster came,

Sir High jumpt up in the Bedde

The Goblin rear’d & grazed his Beard,

And a chop he made at his head!

Sir Hugh look’d blue, & said, Who are you?

Prithee tell me what you’d be at?

You son of a Gun if that’s your fun,

I had better put on my hat!

Your teeth are long & your jaws are strong,

Or they could not make such a noise,

My friends below will very soon know

That this feat is no play for Boys!

Sir Hugh grew pale, Sir Hugh grew sick,

With him ‘twould have pass’d nem.con.

To have quitted the chamber of Redde forthwith,

And down to his friends have gone.

But now again, he laid down his head,

With but little hope of repose

When rous’d from his nap, the Fiend made a map

And bit off part of his nose!

My stars ! cried Sir Hugh, this never will do;

My Friend if you go on so,

You’ll scarce vile creature! Leave me a feature

Or any thing else to shew!

But then thought he I’ve a trick d’ye see,

I may on the Phantom paly

I can crtow like a cock of the first degree,

And he’ll think tis the break of day!

You Demon, you Ghost, or Goblin foul,

At my crowing will gere be gone,

Extraordinary is my Quandary,

“For thus I can never go on!”

Shrill then he crew “Cock a doodle-doo!”

And put von his hat & wig

His friends brought lights, when bounce out of Bed,

Jumpt the Parson’s old Boar Pig!

Of the Rectory House, old legends do say,

Not much, since this little affair;

But we learn from a Tale in “the Perivale Mail”

Matters were not quite now as they were.

Strange transformations too, we are told

In the Rectory, place have taken,

To dust has turn’d Sir Hugh so bold,

And the Phantom Pig to Bacon!

The story is in the nineteenth century tradition that old houses, especially those lived in by high social standing, are likely to be haunted on the grounds of age and status. This is clearly meant to be an entertaining fiction rather than an authentic record. 

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