Warblington Parsonage

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Warblington Parsonage
    The British Magazine and Monthly Register of Religious and Ecclesiastical Information, Parochial History, and Documents Respecting the State of the Poor, Progress of Education, Etc, Volume 4 (1833)

    Sebastian Pitfield held the living of Warblington in the year 1677. Connected with him is a tale told in Cumberland’s periodical work the Observer no.71 which deserves notice. The paper in question contains a letter from Mr Caswell the mathematician, to the Rev Dr Richard Bentley dated Dec 15 1695, inclosing a narrative by Mr Thomas Wilkins curate of Warblington, giving an account of some mysterious appearances in and about the parsonage. The outline of the story is that the then rector Mr Brereton, being rector also of the neighbouring parish of Westbourne, resided in this latter parish and let his house at Warblington, that the tenant and his servants were at various times disturbed and terrified by the appearance of a person in a long black gown walking about the house and premises scratching and whistling, that Mr Wilkins being called in to lay the ghost for what else could it be, saw it himself and putting out his arm to feel it his hand seemingly went through the body of it and felt no manner of substance, after which it vanished at the end of a gallery where there was no stairs. Appended to this is an observation that Mr P, a former rector used to wear a black gown and used to whistle, that he was a man of very ill report supposed to have got children of his maid and to have murdered them to which Cumberland, in a note gravely adds, I make no remark upon this genuine account except as to the passage which I have put in italics. If Mr Wilkins was thoroughly possessed of himself at that moment as he deposes and is strictly correct, in this fact the narrative is established. Now with all due deference to Mr Cumberland, the evidence is surely insufficient on which so decided an opinion is pronounced. That the tenant and his servants would be liable to be infected by the superstition of that period will not be denied, from which the curate can scarcely be said to be exempted, when he could be brought to believe that an inhabitant of the other world would appear in this for the purpose of scratching and whistling Risum teneatis. Surely such testimony as this should not be permitted to blacken the character of an individual in Mr Pitfield’s situation, for from the date &c he must be the Mr P alluded to. As far as we have the means of knowing he was a respectable man and attentive to his duty. By his signature in the vestry book we find that he presided regularly at the vestry meetings of his parish, it is but common charity therefore to hope that he was equally diligent in the discharge of his other duties and least of all should he without some better authority be stigmatized as a libertine and a murderer. A clue however to the ghost story may be found in the following circumstances. The rector Mr Brereton was as has before been stated non resident. For some time the house was left in the care of servants. These servants connected themselves with smugglers with which the whole southern coast of Hampshire and Sussex was at that period much infested. They allowed tliem to use the rectory house as a place of resort for their illicit purposes as a proof of which during some repair of the pre mises above forty years since a large cellar or cave was discovered which had evidently been used as a store for smuggled spirits. At length the rector determined on letting the house which it was an object with the smugglers to prevent. A magic lantern a little trickery and a great deal of superstition will explain the rest. It will not however perhaps be quite so readily credited that a strong impression prevailed among some of the country people about ten years ago that the ghost which they said had been laid for a hundred years was going to re appear. But to use Dr Johnson’s expression “nothing came of it”.