The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The 'Haunting' of Liston Rectory

It is a bizarre coincidence that Liston Rectory, in the next parish to Borley, suffered from a haunting. Unlike Borley Rectory, the whole matter was solved due to the dogged persistence of the local policeman. This haunting happened in 1857, before the notorious Borley Rectory was built, but would have been remembered by locals since it was reported in the papers.

We take our account from the Suffolk Free Press of December 1857

During the first fortnight in December the peace of the residents of Liston Rectory was disturbed by strange unusual knockings which were heard in various parts of the mansion which sometimes appeared to come from the roof and sometimes from different rooms in the house, windows were broken and casements rattled, and sometimes the foundations of the house seemed shaken.

The Rev Fisher and family were of course annoyed and a watch was set but to no purpose, and the sounds continued

At length the nuisance became unbearable and the police constable of Foxearth, P.C.Edwards, was called in to endeavour to put a stop to it.

For several days it baffled the shrewdness of the officer but being no believer in ghost stories he went to work on the convictions that the sounds proceeded from someone who had not yet "shuffled off this mortal coil". Accordingly he kept a close eye on the domestics and his suspicions fell upon a girl named Deeks of about 14 years

It was noticed that the sounds generally occurred when she had the occasion to go to some part of the house when she would be alone, She would then rush back exclaiming "did you hear that noise". At length his suspicions were amply verified having observed her going into one of the rooms, he followed her noiselessly, and when there was a rapping he saw the shadow of her arm commenced in corresponding motion upon the opposite wall. When she came gliding out of the room he met her. She pretended to be alarmed and enquired "did you hear that". By reply he said "yes I did and you did it"

It was an accusation she did not long attempt to deny, Her master was informed of the discovery and experiments were tried out in other parts of the house and the same effects were produced.

The mansion is somewhat antiquated and the divisions of the walls are in places hollow being composed of wood panelling. The girl had discovered what had escaped general observations; that striking on hollow walls in different parts of the house would have remarkable varied sounds and effects.

It is supposed she used to vary her performances occasionally by slyly lifting up the sash of a window and stepping onto the lawn and throw a stone or two through some of the windows.

No motive can be ascribed for her pranks, the Rev gentleman and his lady are remarkably kind and indulgent to all about them.

The girl was dismissed at once and conveyed home to her parents and the removal of the cause of the rapping had ceased in Liston Rectory and usual quiteitude was restored.


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