CHRISTINE WHITEHEAD from Waterhead, author of enthralling book ‘Local Haunts’ on ghosts linked to pubs and inns, looks at spooky happenings at The Old Original, Scouthead:
AS I trudged to The Old Original, the bleak and very grey sky reflected the sad story of Eliza Jane Mackay, a servant girl at the then New Inn Farm, Highmoor, who was found in the local well in 1906. She was only 19.
Under the leaden sky I thought, “Surely she’s got to be around on a day like today.” I was not disappointed.
By contrast, the warm welcome from Tom and Jeanette Harrop, the The Old Original’s well-known landlord and landlady, radiated as strong as the fires burning in the hearths. No wonder Eliza stays at this pub – all nice and cosy!
I was suddenly aware of a thick wall in the ether and thought, “Eliza – you’re here!” I was thrilled to bits.
I knew Eliza was sitting on a chair hunched up holding her knees, rocking back and forth, unsure what was happening.
She knew I had come to ask about her, but did not know what to expect. I sensed she frequently comes into the pub from a former outside door, which now leads to the gents’ toilet.
Mrs Harrop said a previous landlady, Mrs Marler, used to see a floating mist in the vague form of a person emerge from there. It felt good to have that verification.
Musing on Eliza’s sorry plight, I quizzed Mr Harrop about suspicions Eliza’s death could have been murder rather than suicide – his reply: “Oh, I think so. I think she was with child.”
The relief I felt from Eliza was palpable. He had never particularly voiced this notion in her company before. Her tears flowed. Has Mr Harrop hit on a hard truth about Eliza?
It appeared Eliza “liked a drink” – much to the consternation of her aunt and relatives who ran the inn. So, did Eliza enjoy “a tipple” for its own sake – or was she drowning sorrows? Did her alcohol intake bring on deep depression?
Could the stigma of unmarried motherhood be a possibility? Or was she murdered because of the self-same thing? Did she turn to drink as a remedy to “rectify” her predicament? Was her drastic action planned or on impulse? Eliza’s death must be an infinite topic for a bar room debate.
Why does Eliza haunt The Old Original? I think the answer is simple – she is very happy there!
Mr and Mrs Harrop’s fond affection for Eliza is as tangible as her presence, all summed up nicely by Mr Harrop: “There’s a lot of love for you here, Eliza…”
I’m sure she knows.