This ghost story is true. My father told it often to the day he died.
The year was 1944. The place was Leeds. The time was just after midnight. My father was coming home on leave from the navy. He was dropped off in the city centre and walked to his home in Leopold Street, just off Spencer Place, in the days when there were many big houses on that street. At the bottom of Leopold Street sat on a wall was an old Jewish gentleman well-known to my father, a Mr Ritz.
My father asked him what he was doing out so late at night. To which the reply was "Just taking some air my boy". He went on for a few minutes asking how things were in the navy etc and about my father's health. Just general chit chat. After this they made their goodnights.
When dad got home my mother was waiting up for him as was my grandmother and several members of my extended family.
After the obvious greetings dad just happen to mention that he had spoken to 'old Mr Ritz' on the way home and expressed his surprise that he was out at such a late hour, which incidentally was subject to a blackout because of the war.
As he was relating this meeting he observed the faces of all present and the rather hushed silence of all present. "What's wrong?" my dad inquired.
It was my grandmother, rather white faced, who explained to him that old Mr Ritz died some three weeks prior to that evening.
Dad told me that the hairs on the back of his neck had never stood so stiff. They all tried to say he was mistaken, he would have none of it.
He had known Mr Ritz for several years, there was no mistake.
He had spoken, in his own mind, to a ghost. He stood by this tale all his life. I have no reason to doubt him.
The Trees swerved gently as I walked the fifteen minute walk thought the narrow alleyway. Only if I know the terror I was to face! Moving swiftly I burred my hands deep into my coat pockets. Ready to embrace the dark alleyway.
Cold, dark and miserable I repeated as why I was walking through an abandoned alleyway alone. The wind whistled gently as I reached the half way point. But then strange banging sound appeared. I shivered with shock also stuck with the up most fear. I moved faster and faster. I saw something scurry past me from the corner of my eye .I froze! Numb with shock I stood so still I heard nothing but the sound of my breath breathing a warm sultuinless down my cold body.
Terrified to tack the very few steps to the excite, I looked around searching for some answer to what I just saw. My imagination was running wild. I need to run but I questioned myself what would happen if I did, what if I was chased I can't run fast I guttedly admitted. What shall I do? What if am tacking thinks a bit serous should I carry on walking? I stopped questioning myself and took the first step.'Bang'Bang' it had come back. What is happening? Freezing mean full tears dripped down my face. Why me!
It must be very late I then realised as I looked toward the shinning moon as it was the only think I could see. A grasp of hope overcome me as I realised my phone was bleeping; only too sadly agnolige it was to say the battery has died. I had no hope my tears had now started to become a lot faster until my eyes swell because of the tiredness and fading hope of ever reaching the safe place I call home.
Then a rage of anger coming from nowhere approached my body the anger was towards my self for been to terror fide of moving .Why am I so stupid! Why don't I go? Why why why, but no matter how much my mind was set on qwickly leaving, my body physically couldn't.
A massive shadow accrued in the front of me it was not mine! What I had heard, what had made me so emotional and terrified now was stood right behind me! Could I ever get the courage to ever turn around? Tension built up as I tried to imagine what it was.
Breathing heavily I closed my eyes picked up my numb foot and slowly turned around I opened my eyes after talking a deep breath. I was there face to face with the thing that had caused all this unwanted unusual emotion which I had never come across before. Staring eye to eye noticing such innocent and sadly loneliness the eyes belonged to a black cat a sight of relief rose upon me. As I walked out the end of that horrifying alleyway!
I am an intern at St James hospital and I live a few streets away on Clifton mount. What I am about to recount truly took place on my walk home some years ago but the horror of it has remained with me since that day. The quickest route back after a long shift crosses Leeds cemetery. Training as a doctor means regularly dealing with bodies so I've never had a problem with this. After a twelve hour shift I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible so at around eleven at night I entered the wrought iron gates of ones of Leeds' oldest graveyards and made my way across the damp, darkening grounds.
Somewhat dazed from my long day it took some minutes for the sound to penetrate through to my consciousness . A low keening which travelled clearly in the night air appearing to come from all directions at once. It sounded more animal then human but it wasn't until I approached the centre that I found the source. A hunched figure obviously in paroxysms of grief bent over a line of weathered tombs.
Not wishing to intrude (and admittedly a little embarrassed) I kept to the side of the path away from the weeping girl. Her dress was old fashioned, long skirted and clotted with mud. She scrabbled in what I now saw to my horror was an inexpertly opened grave. I watched as she pulled handful after handful of white shards sobbing all the while her fingernails ripped and bloody from the manic work. I don't know how long I stood there before realising what it was that she grubbed for so desperately, pulverised human remains.
I felt physically sick and stumbled backwards knocking with a sharp crack into an ornamental urn. The path was slick with rain that had come from nowhere. Bone shards that the girl had piled so carefully were washed towards me as the path flooded. Shrieking, the girl turned desperately to gather the human remains and it was then that I saw the gaping wound in her chest. Her eyes wild with desperation and hair clotted with mud and blood she lunged across the path. Towards me or the pieces of bone I did not know but I turned and ran with her hysterical sobbing loud in my ears.
It was some years later that I heard the story of Lucy Parish. At the end of the nineteenth century overcrowding in the cemeteries of Leeds was so bad that gravediggers would remove earlier coffins and smash the contents so that newer bodies could be fitted into the space. Rain would wash away the shallow dirt covering the shattered corpses exposing and removing them. Lucy Parish a poor mill worker lost two of her children to machine accidents and was shot as a grave robber in 1860 as she desperately attempted to save the crushed remains of her children from being washed away.I've never walked across that graveyard again.
The Grave Yard Party.
The Flemings', Gladys and George were the oldest couple living on the Avenue, and the longest residing residents. They were well in to their seventies so their children, George junior and Silvia had long since left home, in fact, they both lived abroad and had no contact what so ever with their parents.
On Halloween night, the children on the Avenue would pass by the Flemings home; which was a huge eerie looking Victorian house with large windows that were dressed in deep blood red drapes. At the rear of the house, the garden was long and very over grown and blended in with the old over grown graveyard of witch it backed on to. Although the house did look, warm cosy and inviting from the outside, with glowing lamps lighting up each window. Still the children would pass it by as it was rumoured there were ghosts, although the old couple were indeed dead to the world about this.
To earn some much need extra money, the Flemings decided to rent out their attic rooms, they placed an advertisement in The Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper. Soon newly weds, Barry and Brenda Harrison were moving into the attic rooms, they were the cheapest they had found and they needed to save a deposit for a home of their own. " Just in time for Halloween", we will be having a Halloween party as we do every year, would you be interested in joining us? Mrs Fleming asked the couple. "That's very nice Mrs Fleming, said Barry but we have made other arrangements Sorry". "That's ok, my dears we will have a full house anyway, I didn't want to leave you out that's all".
Halloween arrived and all the children of the Avenue were passing by in thier Halloween outfits, with witches hats scary masks and lighted pumpkins, but none would go near the Flemings house even though Mrs Fleming had opened her door for all who wanted to come in and help themselves to Spooky sandwiches, chocolate ghost cakes, and ghoulish blood red wine, she had worked so hard putting on this fine spread of Halloween food. Come on in Mr and Mrs Fleming would call to the people passing by, but no one wanted to. Except for the Dixon family, Margaret her husband Roy, and their twelve-year-old twin boys David and Michael. They had moved in to the neighbourhood just two weeks ago, and thanked Mr. and Mrs. Fleming as they tucked in to the lovely food. By this time, the Flemings new lodgers Brenda and Barry Harrison had returned and joined in the party.
Margret Dixon could not help but mention discreetly to her husband about the strong decaying aroma about the place, "yes I have noticed it too darling, but the house is very old and the Flemings are old, so that should explain it eh!" Soon it was late and time for the Dixons to leave, so they said their goodbyes and left although noticed that the others were still partying.
The Next morning Margret Dixon decided that she would go and offer her assistance to the Flemings in tidying up from the night before. she went through the old rusty gate to the old house and knocked on the door, she knocked harder but no answered, then a gentleman appeared at the gate behind her, "hello can I help you" he asked a puzzled looking Margret, "yes were you at the party last night sir" said Margret, I'm afraid not Mrs err! "Dixon, its Mrs Dixon, we just moved in to the neighbourhood a couple of weeks ago and we were at the party here last night". "Well I don't know about the party," said the man scratching his head, "I'm George Fleming junior and I'm here to sort out the selling arrangements of the house".
"Oh!" Said Margret Dixon "what about your parent's sir? Are they going in to an old folk's home?" George laughed aloud, "Oh! my dear both my parents died some twenty some years ago"," but not before each serving ten years, part of a life sentence in prison for the murder of their lodgers Barry and Brenda Harrison". " They had failed to keep up rent payments you see, and were always throwing wild parties, especially on Halloween I'm told, they were loud and rude to my parents and raided their larder of food. " So my parents did away with their lodgers and told everyone that they had left". "When the new lodgers moved in the Ghost of Barry and Brenda Harrison would appear to them, insisting they inform the police and their family that they are dead". "No one would ever come in to this property if they knew of the ghastly deeds that happened here". Therefore, Mrs Dixon the party here last night, was probably the. graveyard party.
Leeds Town Hall Victorian Cells
Yorkshire Post Newspapers
|City Varieties||Central Library|
Abbey House Museum
|Thackray Medical Museum|