Mysterious Weald

Mysterious Weald

Can the echoes of a tragic accident still be heard at a Plaxtol landmark?

It was Christmas, 1775 – the Geary family was in residence at Old Soar Manor, near Plaxtol and an army of servants was busy preparing the festive meal, among them a 17-year-old kitchen maid called Jenny. During the celebrations the family priest, who had become horribly drunk on ale, stumbled into the kitchen and his eye fell on young Jenny. When he dragged her out to the barn to have his way with her, Jenny was too afraid to struggle and later made the devastating discovery that she was pregnant.

When her bump began to show the following summer, Jenny was disowned by her boyfriend and father. Left with no choice but to turn to the priest, she visited him in the manor’s chapel where he was playing the organ, but the encounter was not a success – the unrepentant padre told her to simply find someone else to marry. Left alone, the distraught girl slipped against the piscina (a stone water basin) and suffered a fatal head injury. The community assumed she had killed herself and, in common with most suicides, Jenny was buried in unconsecrated ground.

Two hundred years later, in the 1970s, visitors to Old Soar Manor began to report hearing footsteps and music issuing from the chapel; lights were also seen in the empty building and some people claimed to feel a sudden drop in temperature and a ghostly presence. In 1972 a grey cloak was seen hanging in the chapel, only to vanish before the witness’s eyes; just a few days later, the figure of the uncharitable priest was seen bending over the piscina.

These phenomena are reported to increase in the month of June, which would have been about the time of Jenny’s death. Is she still seeking help from her remorseless lover?

Photo credit: Ron Strutt