The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield

Sedgefield

The Rev. John Garnage, A.M., rector of Sedgefield, died in the second week of December 1747, about a week before the tithes became due; and it is said that his widow, who was a woman with all her wits about her, resorted to the old expedient of laying his body in salt, and keeping it in a private room, till after the 20th of the month, the day on which the tithe-farmers came to pay their rents. Her scheme succeeded. She received the payments for that year, which would otherwise have gone into the Bishop of Durham’s hands, as patron. And after she had got the money safe, she made public the fact of her husband’s decease.

This clever piece of trickery does not seem to have been pleasing, however, to the ghost of the departed, who was doubtless an honourable as well as a reverend man, and therefore, the parsonage for many years became a haunted house. “The Pickled Parson,” as he was irreverently termed, infested the neighbourhood for the better part of half a century, ” making night hideous.” At length on the morning of the year 1792, a fire broke out in one of the lodging-rooms of the rectory-house, and before it could be extinguished the greater part of the building was destroyed. From that day and hour the apparition was never more seen.

Legends & Superstitions of the County of Durham

William Brockie 1886

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