Them Harnted Housen
As the 'Most haunted House in England' was once on our patch, I thought it would be interesting to reproduce a ballad written in the Essex dialect by Charles Benham in 1890. It takes very little to make the ballad fit the legend of Borley Rectory, but I fear to do it in case it then becomes absorbed into the tissue of the legend. The fit is remarkable, with the description of the rats, the lights in the window and the female ghost, 'the Owd un' (the old one)
" THEM HARNTED HOUSEN. "
[A BALLAD OF WARNING.]
Goo' mornin', sir, you minter say you bought them housen there,
An' you're a-go'n ter live in one ? Well, that 'l1 make 'em stare.
Them housen. sir, is harnted, an' was when I's a lad,
An' anyone as sleep there, sir, is sartin to be had.
I wouldn't tell yer, but surlie, I knaow as you'll repent.
Tek my advice, sir, don't you gao, y'll on'y wish yer hent,
Tha's no good you a-larfin don't you sleep 'ithin that plaice.
Do to-night you'll be a-larfin on the wrong side o! yer faice.
There's jes one thing about it, you 'ont want to be there long
Afore you say my wahrd is right, though now you think tha's wrong
The rets ? Nao, sir, that ent the rets, n'r yet the moice,
I guess, But tha's the Owd un, I believe, an' nothin' more n'r less.
Las' night I passed them housen by, along o! Tom an' Jack.
"There'll be a tempest, booy," 1 say, "the moon lay on her back."
The wind were flanny, an' the clouds come up as black as slaites,
An' soon that lightened crost the sky, an' thundered jes to rights.
You oughter sin them winders, sir, all lit o' fire-good luck !
And rattled-1 sh'd think th'did-my stars, them winders shuk !
We didn't stop, I tell yer why, we felt that drefful bad,
Afear the Owd un sh'd rome out, an' we sh'd a bin had
Do to-morrer you'll be larfln on the wrong side o' yer faice.
Them housen, sir, is harnted, an' was since I's a lad
Tek my adwice, sir, don't you gao--yer sartin to be had.