England Project Halloween Challenge

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Welcome to the England Project's Halloween Challenge!

It's the time of year to celebrate the spookier things of life—ghosts, zombies and long-legged beasties that go bump in the night!

So we've put together a Halloween Challenge, which aims to complete WikiTree profiles of 22 people connected to reports of witchcraft and paranormal events in England.

The challenge begins on Friday 30 October 2020 at 1pm (UK time) and will end when both teams have created, sourced and connected all of their allocated profiles.

To join the fun, simply follow the steps below.


How to join

1. Choose a team and person to work on
  • Pick a team—either:
    Witches, werewolves and zombies, or
    Ghosts, ghouls and haunted houses
  • Add your name under the person you plan to work on. To add your name, click the "edit" tab of this page and insert your name in the following format: [[WikiID-123|Your Name]]
  • Up to 3 people can work on each person, so put your name down before you miss out!
  • You can work on as many people as you like.
2. Create, source and connect their WikiTree profile
  • Check if the person has a WikiTree profile. If not, create one!
  • Source the profile with reliable sources. Some of the people or stories are on Wikipedia, so that might be a good place to look for clues!
  • Connect the person to the global tree. You will know they are connected if you link them to a profile that's got "... is 23 degrees from ..., 21 degrees from ... and 17 degrees from ... on our single family tree ..." at the bottom. If you're new to connecting, read Fran's 'Connecting How-To' Guide. It's got lots of pictures and screenshots to help you learn.
  • Don't feel you need to do everything yourself. It's all about teamwork!
3. When you finish the person's profile
  • Once you've sourced, written at least a basic biography, and connected the profile to the global tree, update this page to show it's done.
  • Do this by clicking the "edit" tab of this page and adding the following at the end of the person's status: ~~~~ 🎃
    Click "save changes" and it will automatically add your name, the date and time.
4. Winning team
  • The winner will be the team that finishes all their allocated people first, or that has finished the most at the end of the challenge.
  • All participants will receive a participant's sticker to add to their own profile!
    Participants' sticker
5. Questions and updates
  • We will be using Google Groups and the "project-challenges" channel on Discord for questions, updates and to encourage each other.

Witches, werewolves and zombies

Witchcraft in Sible Hedingham

One of the last people to be accused of witchcraft in England was an unidentified elderly deaf-mute Frenchman. He was known by the pseudonym Dummy, and worked as a fortune teller in the village of Sible Hedingham, Essex.

In August 1863, a woman named Emma Smith accused him of cursing her with a disease. She and an angry mob dragged him from outside a tavern, beat him, and threw him into a nearby stream as a trial by ordeal. He later died of pneumonia at a workhouse.

Emma Smith and Samuel Stammers were charged with causing his death. They were tried at the Chelmsford Assizes in March 1864 and sentenced to six months' hard labour.

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected:

  • Mrs Emma Smith, aged 36, "the wife of a beershop-keeper in the village of Ridgewell, about six miles from Hedingham."[1]
WikiTree Team: Chris S | Ian | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Profile created. Connected Speed-878 05:35, 1 November 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Hint: Her maiden name was Choat
  • Samuel Stammers, aged 28, of Sible Hedingham, "a master carpenter in a small way of business."[1]
WikiTree Team: Jo Fitz-Henry | Fran | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: profile created, BMD all sourced, creating children now. Parish registers of Sible Hedingham are on FreeReg. Connected! McHugh-842 22:05, 1 November 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Link: Wikipedia: Dummy, the Witch of Sible Hedingham

Hag-riding in the West Country

In 19th century England, the term "hag-riding" was popularly used to describe a terrifying feeling of being restrained in bed by a witch. The sensation is now medically recognised as sleep paralysis, but historically many sufferers believed they were victims of witchcraft.

Several people were prosecuted in Somerset and Dorset for assaulting older women who, they claimed, had "hag-ridden" or "hagged" them.

In one case, Grace Webb, a 30-year-old handloom weaver from Crewkerne, Somerset, accused her 66-year-old unmarried aunt, Charity Furzer, of hag-riding her. In February 1852, she attacked her aunt, scratching her arm, in the belief that drawing blood would free her from any further suffering. When she was prosecuted for assault, she told the magistrate that in bed at night "she felt a load upon her stomach, and saw the old woman as plain as I can see you now." Her story was supported by her mother Ann Webb, who said she had heard her daughter's cries and knew she had been hag-ridden. The charges were dismissed on payment of her aunt's expenses.

Profile to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Corinne | Robin Helstrom | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: All done 🎃
Link: Owen Davies, A People Bewitched: Witchcraft and Magic in Nineteenth-Century Somerset, 2012, Google Books.

In a similar case in 1884, Tamar Humphries of Coldharbour, Sherborne, Dorset, accused her 83-year-old neighbour Sarah Smith of bewitching one of her daughters, who suffered terribly from rheumatism. Sarah Smith was a "quiet inoffensive" widow who lived with her brother, Thomas, an 84-year-old widower and bootmaker.

The Smiths and Humphries had been neighbours for 30 years but had never argued until 19 September 1884, when Tamar Humphries confronted Sarah Smith as she dug potatoes in her garden.

She shook Sarah by the shoulders and cried "Oh, Sal Smith, what's thee done with my child? You're a witch, and I'll draw the blood of thee." She then stabbed Smith on the hands and arms with a knitting needle. Humphries, aged 52, was prosecuted for assault and fined £1 and 11s 6d costs.

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Hilary |Brad Cunningham | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Tamar (Duffett) Humphries (bef.1830-bef.1910)Buckle-52 23:50, 30 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
  • Sarah Smith
WikiTree Team: Hilary | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Sarah (Braxstone) Smith (bef.1802-1891) Connected McHugh-842 16:53, 1 November 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Hint: The two families were next-door neighbours in Coldharbour, Sherborne at the 1871 and 1881 census: see 1871 census, 1881 census.
Link: Owen Davies, A People Bewitched: Witchcraft and Magic in Nineteenth-Century Somerset, 2012, Google Books

Werewolf hunters

In 1912, ghost hunter and author Elliott O’Donnell described reports of a grey phenomenon—said to have a man's body and a wolf’s head—in a lonely part of Merionethshire, Wales. Strange bones, partly human and partly animal, had been unearthed in a nearby quarry and O’Donnell concluded that the thing sighted might have been "the earth-bound spirit of a werewolf."[2]

Similar incidents have been reported in Exmoor and Cumbria. In his 1933 book, The Werewolf in Lore and Legend, author Montague Summers claimed a skeleton with a wolf’s head had been unearthed by a geologist in the Hebrides.[2]

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Janet Wild | Robin Helstrom | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Profiles created O'Donnell-3348. Bio written and sourced. Connected Speed-878 03:30, 3 November 2020 (UTC) 🎃
WikiTree Team: > Dave | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Connected Welburn-134 11:47, 2 November 2020 (UTC) 🎃

Yorkshire Witch

Mary Bateman was a prominent fortune teller in Leeds, Yorkshire, and was known to prescribe potions to ward off evil spirits and for medicinal purposes. In 1806, she was contacted by William and Rebecca Perigo, who believed they had been put under a witch's spell—because Rebecca was suffering from chest pains.

The couple asked Mary Bateman for her help and she began to feed them pudding secretly laced with poison. Rebecca's condition worsened and she died in May 1807.

When her husband discovered they had been duped, Mary Bateman was arrested and charged with murder. She was convicted and executed on 20 March 1809 at York Castle.

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Laura Enomoto | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: need connecting help Mary Harker
WikiTree Team: Laura Enomoto | Ian | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Rebecca (Stockdale) Perigo Connected Speed-878 12:48, 31 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Wikipedia: Mary Bateman
○ Find A Grave profiles for Mary Batement (Find A Grave: Memorial #39167819) and Rebecca Perigo (Find A Grave: Memorial #203232398)

Zombies in the Peak District

Zombie sightings are rare. But in 1745 the dead are reported to have risen en masse from the graveyard of St Matthew's, Hayfield, a village overlooked by Kinder Scout, the highest point in Derbyshire's Peak District.

Dr James Clegg, a Presbyterian minister from nearby Chapel-en-le-Frith, recorded the incident in August 1745. Writing to the Glossopdale Chronicle, he described how "hundreds of bodies rose out of the grave in the open air" and were "singing in concert" before disappearing. Dr Clegg remarked "what is become of them or in what distant region of this vast system they have since fixed their residence no mortal can tell."[3]

Profile to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Created profile Clegg-1405 Dudgeon-166 02:31, 1 November 2020 (UTC) 🎃

Witch-wiggin tree

The superstitious locals of the East Midlands and Yorkshire once believed that:

"If you have a witch-wiggin tree (mountain ash) in your garden you will never be troubled by the witch."

In December 1891, the Sheffield Telegraph reported that a great gale had blown down the “wiggin-tree” in Lightwood, Norton. The tree, it was said, had been planted 80 years before “to keep the witch out of the churn,” presumably referring to a common belief that a witch’s curse would prevent cream being churned into butter.

A few days later, the Vicar of Wortley, near Sheffield, wrote to the same newspaper saying the tree is known as the "wickersberry tree" in his parish.[4]

Profile to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Joan Whitaker | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Profile created 30/10/2020 Sydney Greenwood Williams-47589 20:26, 30 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Hint: There are two Wortleys in Yorkshire. His initials were possibly "W. A. B." (although this could be the Vicar of Wortley, Leeds). Can you find the Vicar of Worley, Sheffield? His initials might be "S. G."
Perhaps you could do both.

Persecution of Ann Izzard

In 1808, the villagers of Great Paxton, Cambridgeshire, levelled claims of witchcraft against Ann Izzard, a poor woman living with her family on the outskirts of the village. The villagers accused her of bewitching their children, causing them to have fits, and claimed she had overturned a cart on its way home from market at St Neots.

In May 1808, enraged villagers twice stormed the Izzard family's home, dragging Ann from bed, beating her and stabbing her arms with pins, believing this would weaken her powers of sorcery.

After the second attack, some of the villagers were arrested and sentenced to a month’s prison for assaulting her. The claims of witchcraft continued and followed the family after they moved to the nearby town of St Neots. Even a century after her death, folklore says she could be seen riding her broomstick over the Eynesbury churchyard near St Neots.

Profile to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Ros Haywood | Heather Brannon | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Profile connected McHugh-842 14:00, 1 November 2020 (UTC) 🎃
The story of Ann Izzard
A sermon against witchcraft (1808), includes a contemporary account of the attacks on Ann Izzard
section break

Ghosts, ghouls and haunted houses

Borley Rectory

Borley Rectory in Essex was once considered the most haunted house in England. Reports of paranormal events first began to emerge soon after the house was built in 1862. Over the decades, people claimed to see ghosts of a nun walking in the garden and a phantom coach driven by two headless horsemen, and to witness unexplained bell-ringing, footsteps and lights in windows.

The rectory rose to infamy in 1929 when the Daily Mirror began a series of articles about its mysterious events and asked paranormal researcher Harry Price to investigate. The phenomena increased and psychics claimed to make contact with spirits, including that of a young French nun Marie Lairre, said to have been murdered in a former building on the same site. Borley Rectory was badly damaged by fire in 1939 and later demolished.

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected:

  • Rev Henry Dawson Ellis Bull (died 1892), whose four daughters claimed to have seen the ghost of a nun walking slowly across the lawn outside Borley Rectory in June 1900.
WikiTree Team: Fran | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Done, will connect 31 Oct McHugh-842 19:02, 30 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
  • Harry Price (1881–1948), the paranormal researcher called in to investigate the mysteries of Borley Rectory. Wikipedia
WikiTree Team: Olivia McCabe | Gillian Loake | Carol K
Status: Harry Price (1881-1948) have connected Harry's sister Anne to another unconnected tree of 120 profiles, plenty of scope for a connection now. Will connect 1 Nov Winton-239 13:44, 31 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
WikiTree Team: Carol K | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Completed, will connect 31 Oct Winton-239 22:34, 30 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Link: Wikipedia: Borley Rectory

Lady Winchcombe

Bucklebury Old Manor in Berkshire belonged to the Winchcombe family for several generations before it passed to Lady Frances Winchcombe.

In 1700 the young and beautiful heiress married Henry St John, later Lord Bolingbroke, a Tory minister and Secretary of State to Queen Anne. The marriage was not a successful one and within two years the couple were living apart.

Lady Frances retired to Bucklebury and died in 1718, age 37, reputedly from a broken heart. Although much of Bucklebury Old Manor burnt down in 1832, her melancholy ghost is said to haunt the manor's park and the village of Bucklebury. One report in the Falkirk Herald on 20 August 1898 claimed:

Of course, the place is haunted and with two apparitions at least. A white lady walks the park and flits around the quiet pond; but a more terrible sight is the chariot drawn by six black horses mounted by headless positilions which at midnight issues from the portals of the ancient mansion, its ghostly wheels rattling on the uneven stones, and drives swiftly away to some fearsome destination.[5]

Profile to be sourced:

WikiTree Team: Robin Helstrom | Leandra | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Connected. Complete Ford-7139 09:53, 31 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃

Snowshill Manor

Snowshill Manor is a 16th century country house in a small Cotswolds village in Gloucestershire. It is best known for its owner Charles Paget Wade, an eccentric collector who bought the house in 1919—and who had a fascination with paranormal events.

Folklore has it that the manor is haunted by a Benedictine Monk of Winchcombe Abbey and the unhappy ghost of a 16-year-old girl who was forced into marriage in an upper room of the house in 1604.

The house and adjoining lands were occupied by farmer Charles Marshall in the first half of the 19th century. After his death, a labourer named Carter was returning home from work when he reportedly encountered Marshall's ghost, riding alongside him on a black pony. This happened several times until the labourer asked the apparition what it wanted. The ghost is said to have given the labourer a secret message for Mrs Marshall, the contents of which became the subject of much speculation.

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Gillian Loake | Stephen Davies | Robin Helstrom
Status: Connected Stephen Davies 08:45 31 October 2020 (UTC)🎃
thanks to Robin Helstrom with the connection
WikiTree Team: Leandra | Elizabeth | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Connected Greet-49 23:33, 30 October 2020 (UTC)🎃
Bio complete Ford-7139 05:16, 31 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Hint: He died in 1854, aged 79, and was buried at Snowshill.
Link: A Cotswolds Ghost Story: Ghosts and Hauntings at the Manor House

Bamburgh Castle

High on a rocky outcrop on the Northumberland coast stands Bamburgh Castle, a medieval castle built shortly after the Norman conquest of England.

It is said to be haunted by the Pink Lady of Bamburgh Castle, the spirit of a mournful princess who every seven years wanders the castle's corridors, then glides down the rocky path to the shoreline and gazes sadly out to sea.

Visitors report seeing "a misty apparition" in the gallery area of the castle and claim it resembles Dr John Sharp, whose picture hangs in the castle's museum.[6]

Dr Sharp was Archdeacon of Northumberland and succeeded his father as one of the trustees of the Will of Nathaniel Crew, 3rd Baron Crew. He oversaw the restoration of the castle and the establishment of a lifeboat station on its rugged coastline.

Profile to be sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Marjorie | Leandra | Robin Helstrom
Status: Profile created, added all the sources and links I can find. One of about ten children but seems none married or had children apart from one who's daughter had no children.
Bio complete. Could do with an image or two. Ford-7139 13:14, 31 October 2020 (UTC)
Status Connected via mother Humphrey-6461 18:11, 31 October 2020 (UTC)🎃
Link: Dr Sharp's profile on Philanthropy North East

Major Rickman

South Hill Park, a country house south of Bracknell in Berkshire, is said to be haunted by the ghost of Major Graham Egerton Rickman. The Major took his own life on 17 January 1940, soon after inheriting the estate and its crippling debts upon the death of his aunt Lady Haversham. He was aged 70.

His gruesome death took place in house's gunroom. Despite extensive renovations to that part of the house, unexplained footsteps are regularly heard in the corridor above the place he died, and witnesses claim to have seen the Major strolling along the veranda, gazing out to where the estate's lake used to be,

Profile to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Carol K | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: completed, will connect 31 October Winton-239 18:38, 30 October 2020 (UTC) 🎃
Link: The ghosts of South Hill Park

Ghost at Castle Hedingham

In 1713 Nicholas Jekyll reported the sighting of the ghost of a "poor fellow who lately drowned himself" near Jekyll’s house in Castle Hedingham, a village in northeast Essex,

His description of the ghost is preserved in the Essex Record Office in a letter dated 13 March 1712/3 from Jekyll to Rev William Holman of Halstead. Jekyll asserted he had "unquestionable proof" of the truth of reports that the ghost was seen "acting like a fellow in deep melancholly in the place where the man had drowned himself, before throwing itself into the water." An image of his original letter is here.

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team:Elizabeth | Black cat | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Nicholas Jekyll basic bio and connected 🎃
WikiTree Team: Thing | Robin Helstrom | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Bio complete. Connected. 🎃
○ William Holman's biography in Dictionary of National Biography (Wikisource)
○ Background information about Holman and Jekyll: Essex Record Office

Reverend Densham

Reverend Frederick William Densham was an eccentric vicar in the remote village of Warleggan on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. He took up the post in 1931 and soon alienated himself from most of his congregation.

His ghost is said to walk the path alongside St Bartholomew’s Church in Warleggan.

His was depicted in Daphne du Maurier's 1967 book Vanishing Cornwall and the 2009 film A Congregation of Ghosts, which is based on his life. His character was played by actor Edward Woodward.

Profiles to be created, sourced and connected

WikiTree Team: Black cat | [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: Profile created Reverend Frederick William Densham, bio & connected 🎃
WikiTree Team: Black cat| [[WikiID|Name]] | [[WikiID|Name]]
Status: profile created Edward Albert Arthur Woodward, basic bio, connected 🎃
The Reverend Densham of Warleggan
Wikipedia: A Congregation of Ghosts
section break

Ultimate challenge - Vampire of Dent

In the churchyard of the village of Dent, on the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales, is the grave of George Hodgson, a reputed vampire. He died in 1715 at the great age of 94.

After his death, unwholesome stories began to circulate about his peculiar tastes and habits. One resident claimed he had enjoyed a regular glass of animal’s blood. And a local farmer recalled how he had seen a black hare—or witch’s familiar—and blasted it with his shotgun. He followed the injured creature's trail of blood to Hodgson's house and, peering through a window, eyed him treating a gunshot wound.

This was, according to popular legend, enough to justify the exhumation of George's body—supposedly to check he was dead. His coffin was dug up and opened, to find George’s remains still inside. But to make sure he couldn’t get up to mischief, he was reburied in a fresh grave at the door of St Andrew’s church—with a brass stake or rod driven through his body.

Profile to be sourced and connected:

WikiTree Team: Anyone and everyone!
Status: profile created but unconnected


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Occurrences, Offences, &c." Carlisle Journal, 29 Sep 1863, page 4. British Library Newspapers (subscription service, accessed 28 Sep 2020).
  2. 2.0 2.1 "UK Werewolf Hauntings: Are We Living in Gothic Times?". Open Graves, Open Minds (accessed 21 Sep 2020)
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Hayfield, Derbyshire," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (accessed 23 Oct 2020).
  4. S O Addy, Household tales with other traditional remains : collection in the Counties of York, Lincoln, Derby, and Nottingham, London: David Nutt, 1895, pages 63-4. Internet Archive (accessed 28 Sep 2020)
  5. "Middletons’ Bucklebury Manor", 8 Nov 2012, M J Wayland (accessed 26 Sep 2020).
  6. "Haunted History - History & Haunting of: Bamburgh Castle", 24 Mar 2014, Facebook (accessed 27 Sep 2020)

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