Mr Stokes' strange tale!
The winter was a long and hard one in the Britain of 1970, before the days of global warming, January would signify cold weather right across the country.

Early one morning I had cleared a patch of snow in my tiny garden to put down food for the wildlife, an urgent knocking on my door showed an anxious looking old lady with a tiny Yorkshire terrier held tightly within her coat, and demanding to see the Exorcist. Inviting her into the warm, and asking her over a welcome hot cup of tea for her story, she began to pour out a most curious tale....

Her son was a parish gravedigger, one of a special breed of men who are often shunned for the work they do, yet their knowledge of the outdoors, the changing seasons and who lives below ground in their graveyards, can be priceless to ghost hunters. The old lady told me that the little churchyard, where her son worked had sold off a part of the large old graveyard for a road widening scheme and for a small housing development. As the old defunct gravestones were cleared away, he had brought a load home and laid them down as her garden path, and on a visit there sure enough, you could read all the names of the long deceased all down the garden path to her washing line.

The trouble was when you move these things about, you can disturb the dead, and they were expressing their anger in very strange ways. Since the laying of the pathway with the now obsolete gravestones, she would hear strange noises, things would get moved and Trixie the Yorkshire terrier would just sit barking in the garden at nothing, and be very unsettled at night. Now old people who live alone can report all these things, and they are actually more normal than paranormal, but in this instance I felt some examination was necessary, and was glad I did, because there were indeed memory traces and psychic residues from some long dead personalities, who were unhappy to have been disturbed, both in the garden and now in the home.

The first thing was to call out a list of the names on the stones in prayer, consecrate the new ground for the stones, and to call for God's blessings. This used to be called “a holding at bay ceremony” Electrical problems have been documented in psychic movement right back to the complete system failures in Cairo at the death of Lord Caernarvon, but here were some baffling phenomena such as lights coming on and off all through the night, music coming from the player, the heating packing up, the doorbell ringing when no one was there, odd noises downstairs at night and her reading glasses going missing and being found all over the house. When she sat alone Trixie would be right at her feet in “protective mode”. She said this was all driving her potty.

The next door neighbours said she was batty anyway, so it was difficult to assess how much was genuine, but I believed the general thrust of what she said, and asked if I could bring in a few spiritual colleagues in what is called a “rescue circle” and round up these lost souls and help them to their proper place. (This is expert work and must not be attempted without training)

In the meantime, however, she went to the church and told the Vicar there about the ghostly goings on: he was furious she had sought help from someone outside the church. In the old days people who thought for themselves were murdered by the Christian hierarchy, and even today freelance exorcists are not seen in a pleasant light, But the need for them has only been because of Church attitude that only regular church goers can get church help or use church facilities. The Vicar was not very knowledgeable or helpful and kept insisting that “This would not have happened if she had kept up her regular church going and bible reading class” but did pray with her in the house. Over the coming weeks the strange phenomena did die down, And Trixie the terrier went back to sleeping in her basket, but I am convinced the situation existed which could have got a lot worse, with the souls of the dead getting increasingly angry. Flash photographs taken at night show several streaks and shapes which could possibly be spirit, and I accept this is open to interpretation. But for me there really were a lot of dead people in that house, who I am pleased to say are now back at rest: and so is Trixie, the hero of this tale!