Madam Pigott

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Madam Pigott is the local ghost story in the market town of Newport, Shropshire

The Tale[edit]

Squire Pigott lived at the Chetwynd Park estate; he took himself a wife. He was a harsh uncaring husband who simply needed an heir to his wealth and estates. The wife he took was a lady of sufficient pedigree to be mother of his child, but there was no real love in their marriage, and shortly after the wedding the squire left his wife to rattle round the great house while he departed for London on business; there he caroused the nights away with all sorts of dubious ladies and companions. He would return now and then just to put in an appearance, but his poor neglected wife stayed behind to run the house and yearned for some true love and affection from her husband. In due time Madam Pigott fell pregnant; she was sickly and frail throughout and spent much time in bed: alone and unloved and growing bitter towards her husband.

The birth was not an easy one and Madame Pigott had little strength and the midwife began to fear for both the lives of the mother and baby; she summoned the help of the doctor.

Squire Pigott was impatiently pacing up and down outside the delivery room, awaiting the news of the arrival of a son. The doctor emerged from the room to explain that he was unable to save both the lives of his wife and baby; the Squire was required to choose.

It took the cold-hearted squire only seconds to declare that the doctor should lop the root to save the branch. On hearing that her husband willed her death, Madame Pigott cursed him before gasping her last breath; the child also died.

From that day on, her restless angry spirit continued to haunt the area; it was said that a wisp of white smoke would appear from the skylight in the roof of the Old Rectory in Chetwynd and would descend on a breeze until it came to rest on the moonlit lawn in front of the house where it would take the form of a ghostly woman. Weeping with eternal grief, she clutched a tightly swaddled infant. The spirit would walk through the grounds of the house and along the dark high-banked lane that went up Cheney Hill.

The betrayed Madame Pigott would sit on the twisted roots of the old tree, combing the hair of the ghostly baby in the moonlight crying her heart-wrenching sadness; people would not dare go up there after dark, fearful of encountering the moaning spirit.

If a rider were to come past, especially someone racing for the midwife for his own wife, Madame Pigott would jump up in the saddle behind him and clasp her hands around his waist, She would then try and pull the terrified rider down and cling on no matter how the rider tried to shake her; her spirit was unable to cross water, so when the rider crossed a stream, she would let go and leave the terrified man to speed on into the dark.

The spirit was so well known in the area that twelve churchmen assembled to lay the ghost to sleep by reading Psalms, though the spirit was strong and would not be calmed. Exhausted by the effort of such intense prayer, all but one of the clergymen gave up. Mr Foy of Edgmond continued reading psalm after psalm, sweating and becoming delirious with fatigue. The prayers worked, the ghost's powers diminished, and it shrunk to the size of a mouse, which was then trapped in a bottle and thrown into Chetwynd Pool.

The townspeople had a brief interlude of peace, with the ghost at rest under the water, but one day in the middle of winter when the old Mr Foy had died at his house in Granville Avenue, Newport, a thick snow and ice had been lying for weeks and on the same day a child was skating on Chetwynd pool and broke the ice and the glass bottle was floating just below the surface, unleashing the spirit once more.

Second coming[edit]

This time Madame Pigott was more frantic than ever, she would jump onto passing wagons and carts and onto carriages, Again the required twelve priests assembled, candles were lit, and prayers were read good and hard; the spirit flew about in a wild frenzy, snuffing out all the candles except one. Despite the gloom, the eldest priest urged his colleagues to continue, because if the last candle were to extinguish, then the powers of evil would take hold and the Devil and his army would come marching in to assist Madam Pigott in dashing them to bits.

At last the spirit began to shrink and move closer to the mouth of the bottle, they continued to pray the spirit into the bottle and corked it fast.

This time the Spirit was buried in Newport general cemetery, under the chapel, so not to risk a reappearance.

Legacy[edit]

To this day Cheyney Hill between Newport and Edgmond is also known as Madam Pigott Hill