Huddersfield Chronicle (31/Mar/1855) – The Mysterious Rappings at Seed Hill Dyeworks

The “Seed Hill Ghost” is covered more fully in this blog post.

In our last impression we recorded the fact that sounds of a most mysterious character had been heard in the dwelling-house of Mr. Samuel Routledge, immediately adjoining the above works, for some days previously. We also stated that in consequence the premises had been visited by a number of “tolerably” respectable persons, at which accidental form of expression some of our respectable readers, and a few of Mr Routledge’s select visitors, took exception, for which we feel sorry, though we see no hopes of not this week again falling under somebody’s censure unless we could call all our readers around us in our sanctum, and submit our manuscript to their inspection, which would, we fear, only add to our embarrassment. Therefore, we must “rap” on alone by recording the fact that since last week, up to Thursday evening, the rappings continued, with intervals of varied suspense, from day to day, and have attracted hundreds of respectable, tolerably respectable, and anything but respectable people to the spot, but regardless of each of these the “rappings” continued, and ever and anon the clear, but peculiar and well-defined “rappings” were heard above the mimic imitations which were going on at the time by some curious experimenter, with his knobbed-stick, on the wainscoating of the passage. Many as were the imitations essayed in our presence, yet there was no mistaking the real “rapper” from his counterfeits. If not the “observed of all observers” the noise produced a total cessation of all imitations, as by general consent, so soon as it commenced, and it became obvious to us from many careful experiments, that the sounds produced in the majority of instances were much louder, and in all cases markedly different, from those which were essayed in imitation by a number of gentlemen who, from day today, evinced a laudable curiosity to unravel the mystery. Nor was Mr. Routledge less desirous to solve the matter, notwithstanding the many idle rumours set on foot to the contrary. He thoroughly cleared out all the gas and water pipes about the premises, and we believe that every drain either directly or remotely connected with the house has been opened, and thoroughly cleansed. None of these expedients, however, produced any change, and, to Mr. Routledge’s still greater surprise, on his return from Bradford market, on Thursday night, he found the commotion greater than ever, and was informed that not only had the ”rappings” increased in their intensity during his absence, but that during the evening a portion of the bedding and bed clothes had come down stairs, helter skelter, of its own accord, into the front passage ! This circumstance first roused suspicion in the mind of Mr. Routledge and his friends in reference to an Irish nurse girl in the house, named Catherine Hayley, not more than thirteen years of age, and she was closely interrogated, but denied all “rapping” propensities. During the evening a clairvoyante was again brought into the house, thrown into the mesmeric state, and performed some strange antics over and under the bed and among the bed clothes, put to no purpose. In the meantime Mr. Routledge sent the nurse-girl to bed, and the “rapping” ceased for the night. This was data to work upon, and accordingly Mr. Routledge and his friends commenced a series of experimental “rappings” on doors, panels, &c. in the apartments to which this said Irish nurse girl had chief access, but still the peculiar sound was not produced until they arrived at a washing machine in the kitchen, when “rap, rap” was made thereon, and lo, all declared that this was the precise sound which had scared their wits for now nearly ten days. This led to a closer inspection of the machine, the end of which showed a series of bruises and indentations, leaving but little doubt that here the “rapper” had carried on its work. Thus far satisfied Mr. Routledge retired for the night, and early the next morning he charged the nurse girl with having been the operator on the washing machine in question. For some time she stoutly denied the soft impeachment, but on Superintendent Thomas being sent for she first admitted that she had made part of the rappings with a stick on the said washing machine, and she subsequently confessed that the whole of these “rappings” had been made by her on it, and on a door in the best kitchen, on which latter she “rapped” with a small sandstone. She also admitted that on the previous night she seized a favourable moment, took off her clogs, ran upstairs, threw down the bed linen, returned and put on her clogs, and then gave the alarm to a gentlemen who had mounted guard in the front parlour ! This, and much more she revealed, showing an amount of deception and cunning in one so young, as has, for some ten days past, “struck dumb the timid and amazed the wise,” but which has clearly proved that she alone was the evil genius, for since her removal from the premises, yesterday morning, the “rappings” have ceased, Mr. Routledge’s residence has assumed its wonted privacy, and what was deemed as something supernatural by the many has proved to have been the mere device of one very ignorant, though very cunning little Irish girl. Verily, what great events from little causes spring ! We think it right to add that the girl has made a full confession of the modus operandi by which she has so successfully gulled the public, and has admitted that none other than herself was in any way privy to the deceptions she has so successfully, and with so much sang froid, carried on for several days. We need scarcely add, that Mr. Routledge has dispensed with her services, but we hear, with some surprise, that a few foolish people are attempting to make a “lioness” of her, which we feel certain sensible people will not countenance.