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Belfry News August 2019

A Christmas Ghost

To recount this little story we must return to the Leicester I knew some 70 years ago, the days of my long gone youth, the days when those bone shaking trams rattled through the town's thoroughfares and the many chimney stacks advertised the city's prosperity. At the lower end of Churchgate one found (and still does today) the ancient church of St Margaret, an impressive structure, its imposing tower containing 14 bells. In my time the adjacent vicarage itself very old, was the home of Rev. Canon Eric Ducker MA., his family and in an annexe, known as "the vergers lodge" Ernest Morris, verger, author, bell ringer with his redoubtable wife Beatrice, known to we youngsters, though not to her face as "Beatie." The vicarage and annexe had one other resident, a ghost who Ernest told me he had seen while fire watching during the war. Taking a short nap, he awoke to find it standing near his bed before slowly disappearing through the wall. A ringing friend , Jack Adams a solicitor, also claimed to have seen this spirit. Doors in the vicarage would mysteriously open of their own accord, not that this bothered Rev Eric "Oh don't worry, he will close them" he said. Eric had no fear of ghosts as often in winter when we arrived to ring for evening service, we would find the whole church in darkness, except for the organ console where in a pool of light sat Eric blasting out Bach. Likewise fearless "Beatie" or more respectfully, Mrs Morris, would have swept up the ghost, even as she swept the confetti after weddings.

In later years due to a road improvement scheme the vicarage was demolished leaving the ghost homeless. All that remains and seen through a gap in an old red brick wall are a few weed covered cobbles, relics of a one time home. The characters depicted in this story have sadly all long gone, but it is said that the ghost moved into the church though I have no news of sightings. Anyone keen to spend an investigational night in St Margarets? H'm perhaps not-far better to retire to one's bed for hopefully pleasant and ghost free dreams.

John Bennett