Miss Challand, the Local Clairvoyant

The name “Miss Challand” cropped up in the previous blog post about the “Seed Hill Ghost” of March 1855. To summarise that particular event, ghostly knocking sounds and ringing bells were heard in the house of dyer Samuel Routledge and it was reported that Miss Challand had been brought in twice in an attempt to shed light on what was happening, but without any success.

It eventually transpired that a young Irish servant girl in the employ of Routledge was behind it all, so Miss Challand’s inability to contact the spirit responsible for the noises is entirely understandable. Of interest, one of the articles about the “Seed Hill Ghost” includes a brief description of Challand’s second visit to the house, which followed a few hours after the bedclothes and pillows had been inexplicably ripped from a bed and left strewn upon the landing and staircase:

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.

The description paints a comical scene and you’d be forgiven for wondering what Miss Challand’s credentials actually were, but another article describing her first visit to the house provides hints:

The services of Miss Challand, who has “got her name up” as a faithful clairvoyante (since the discovery of the body of the missing female from Marsden), were put into requisition ; but, after being placed in the required state, nothing could be elicited from her, inasmuch as, not having heard the ghost perform his operations, she could discover nothing to detect his whereabout, or the means he employed to effect such startling sounds.

Intrigued by the reference to the “missing female from Marsden”, I started hunting through the newspaper archives.


The Disappearance of Sarah Ann Lumb

Although her father is named as farmer “John Lumb” in one of the articles about her disappearance, it seems much more likely that he was the John Lumb, married to Mary (née Whitehead?), who is listed as the landlord of the Old Ram Inn on Town Street in Marsden in the 1851 Census — 11-year-old “S. Ann Lumb” was listed as their oldest daughter on the census.

On the evening of Thursday 14 December 1854, Sarah Ann was walking home in heavy rain with a friend, Hannah Haigh.1 After saying goodbye to her friend, she headed towards the bridge in the village to cross over the river. In the darkness and perhaps blinded by the driving rain, she seemingly misjudged where she was — instead of stepping onto the bridge, she accidentally fell into the river.

The rains had swollen the river, which was running faster and deeper than usual, and Sarah Ann was rapidly carried downstream. Her screams altered those living nearby and the alarm was quickly raised that someone was in the water but, despite a frantic search, they could find no-one in the darkness.

The search continued the following day and, by now, it was known that Sarah Ann was missing and likely the person heard screaming. Within a week, her family were offering a £5 reward “to any one who shall find the body”. The Huddersfield Chronicle (23/Dec/1854) reported that several readers had written in to urge the authorities to fence off the gap in the wall near the bridge, where it was believed Sarah Ann had tumbled into the river.

In the days after her disappearance, items of clothing were found in the river. Her skirt was found the day after she disappeared, about a quarter of mile downstream from Marsden. Her shawl was found a few days later, followed by her flannel petticoat on Christmas Eve and her dress skirt on 28 December.2

Her family grew increasingly desperate and reportedly consulted a “wise man” in Holmfirth, but he could give them no information. It seems someone then put them in contact with a “mesmerist”3 by the name of Captain Hudson who was staying locally. Sarah Ann’s uncle, builder Samuel Whitehead, and local mill-owner Joshua Farrar approached Hudson and asked if he knew of anyone who could help. He gave them the name and address of a dressmaker named Challand who lived in Moldgreen, Huddersfield, who he claimed had the gift of clairvoyance.

Whitehead and Farrar then went to Miss Challand and asked her to accompany them back to Hudson’s residence. Perhaps at the insistence of the Captain, they didn’t explain anything to her. Hudson then placed Challand into a hypnotic trance and he asked her if she knew why the two men had come to her. She replied, “Yes, about the young woman who was drowned at Marsden.”

Whitehead had brought with him the clothes that had been found in the river and Challand said that Sarah Ann had had the shawl wrapped tight over her head to help fend off the rain, which, if true, perhaps helps explain why the girl misjudged the bridge.

Hudson now asked her to see where Sarah Ann Lumb’s body was now. Challand appeared to fall asleep for around five minutes before she began describing the progress the girl’s body had taken down the river. She ended by stating that Sarah Ann’s body was within 100 yards of the second bridge in Mirfield and that the body was covered in mud, apart from the feet.

Whitehead then travelled to Mirfield on 4 January with some workmen and began searching the river around Legard Bridge, but could find no sign of the body. A local then told them that, if they wanted the “second bridge in Mirfield”, they were at the wrong location — Shepley Bridge was where they should be looking. Whitehead moved his workmen there, where they soon found Sarah Ann’s body 20 yards from the bridge. Just as Challand had told him, the girl’s body was buried but her feet were exposed.

According the subsequent inquest, which was held at the Ship Inn, Mirfield, on 5 January, a post mortem proved death by drowning. It was recorded that Sarah Ann’s body had been carried downstream a distance of 14 miles and that Mary Ann Challand claimed to have known nothing of the deceased prior to being hypnotised by Captain Hudson. The jury returned an open verdict.

The Huddersfield Chronicle reported the events in an article titled “Extraordinary Mode of Finding a Missing Human Body“, which was republished verbatim in a few other regional newspapers.

On the evenings of 12 and 13 January, Captain Hudson gave a “mesmeric demonstration” to a packed house at the Old Ram Inn, Marsden, hypnotising several people. However, it seems most people were there to see his companion, the clairvoyant Mary Ann — by now, most of the locals had heard that she had helped find Sarah Ann’s body. The Chronicle (20/Jan/1855) reported that Mary Ann failed to do anything at either lecture, so “the audience had no proofs given of her powers as a clairvoyante, so that unbelievers remained unbelievers still.”

At this point in the story, it’s tempting to assume that fame and fortune awaited Mary Ann, the Huddersfield clairvoyant who found the drowned girl. However, events in her own life were about to take a sad and tragic turn.

Mary Ann Challand

Mary Ann Challand was born in August 1838, the daughter of corn miller Thomas Challand and his wife, Mary (née Broadly).4

By the time of the 1851 Census, 12-year-old Mary Ann was living on Smythey Lane, off Springfield Terrace, Huddersfield, with her parents and her older brother brother, George. Not long after, they appear to have moved to Moldgreen, Huddersfield.

In June 1854, Mary Ann’s mother brought a case against a man named Charles Oldfield whose dog she claimed had attacked her whilst she was fetching in washing from her clothes line. However, discrepancies in her statements led to the case being dismissed.

1855 would be a tumultuous year for Mary Ann Challand. Following her work in locating the body of Sarah Ann Lumb in early January and then her attempts to contact the “Seed Hill Ghost”, her father Thomas died a few months later and was buried on 30 May. Her mother Mary appears to have sunk into a depression following the death of her husband5 and on the morning of Wednesday 18 July she told a neighbour that “she thought she would not see the day out”.

At noon that day, she visited Mary Ann at her place of work and then at around 1:30pm, she met her son, George. We can only speculate what her final words were to her children, but within a couple of hours Mary Challand had taken her own life.

A rent collector named Benjamin France called at Challand’s house around 4pm that afternoon and assumed the property empty when he received no reply to his shout of “holloa”. Letting himself in, he was horrified to see Mary hanging from the stairwell banister. Rather than cut her down, he altered some neighbours and went off to find a policeman.

An inquest was held the following evening at the Kaye’s Arms in Moldgreen with George Dyson presiding. Dyson was critical of Mr. France for not immediately cutting Mrs. Challand down in case she had only just hung herself. The jury returned a verdict of “suicide whilst temporarily insane”.

If Mary Ann continued to be a clairvoyant after the death of her parents, it was not reported in any of the newspapers that I have access to.

The 1861 Census has 22-year-old unmarried Mary Ann living as a lodger at the house of police constable George Ramsden, 33 Templar Street, Leeds. Her occupation is given as “milliner”, which ties with the contemporary newspaper reports that she was a dressmaker.

She married engineer Benjamin Haigh on 7 March 1863 at St John the Baptist in Halifax. Oddly, her father is not marked as being deceased.


The 1871 Census has them living in Manchester, with two young daughters: Clara and Ellen. Ten years later, they were living at 7 Portland Street, Litchurch, Derbyshire, with a third daughter, Edith. All three daughters appear to have been given the middle name “Ann” after their mother. By 1901, 62-year-old Mary Ann was a widow and was living with her married daughter, Ellen Bowes, in north Manchester.

Her brother, George Thomas Challand, married Ellen Sykes on 14 January 1856 at All Hallows, Almondbury, and he worked as a farmer in Dalton, Huddersfield. He died on 26 April 1883 and was buried at All Hallows on 30 April.

Mary Ann died in 1903, aged 67, and was buried St Bartholomew’s in Whitworth, Lancashire.


Whether you believe in her gift or not, it certainly seems she helped bring closure to a grieving family who had lost their teenage daughter in tragic circumstances. For that alone, Mary Ann Challand, the clairvoyant of Huddersfield, deserves to be remembered.

As for Captain Hudson, who seems to have been Mary Ann’s mentor, he crops up in many other interesting articles and deserves a blog post of his own!

Further Reading

The death of Sarah Ann Lumb was reported in these articles:

The Ghost of Seed Hill

As a location in Huddersfield, Seed Hill no longer really exists, but it was the area to the east of the modern-day Shorehead Roundabout and is more-or-less where Sainsbury’s supermarket and car park is now located. This 1894 map of the area shows Seed Hill Road:


In the mid-1800s, Samuel Routledge (born 1803 in Brampton, Cumberland) ran a profitable dye business at Seed Hill but, in 1852, an attempt to expand into trading with Australia, saw him overstretch himself. Needing to raise further capital of £5,000, his bank recommended that he “apply to his friends for a guarantee” and his property was put up security. By June 1853, he was in debt to his bank to the tune of over £4,500 with further debts of £5,764. The following year, Routledge declared bankruptcy. When it became obvious that the value of Routledge’s estate would not cover his debts, a court case in July 1855 ensued as to whether those who guaranteed the £5,000 loan were liable or not for the other outstanding debts.

A few months before that case was heard, Routledge’s creditors had moved to begin selling off his estate and, in mid-March 1855, advertisements began to appear in local newspapers:

Huddersfield Chronicle 10 March 1855

The dwelling house mentioned in the advert was soon to become one of the most notorious residences in Huddersfield. The events surrounding the “Seed Hill Ghost” were reported widely both locally and nationally, and some of the newspaper articles are occasionally contradictory, so the following is an attempt to pull together the facts of the story as best we can, 160 years after they occurred…

On the evening of Friday 16 March 1855 at around 7:45pm, a vigorous knocking sound echoed through Samuel Routledge’s house. Routledge was away at the time, so his maid rushed to answer the door to find out what all the urgency was. However, when she opened the door, there was no-one there. No sooner had she closed the front door than loud banging sounded from elsewhere in the house. She thought it must be coming from the kitchen and went to investigate but found the room was empty.

The maid, perhaps suspecting a practical joke or perhaps getting fearful, left the house and roused a night watchman from a nearby yard. He accompanied her back to the house and stood guard in the passageway. Before long, the loud knocking sound echoed once again through the house. Perturbed, he announced that he would he was unprepared to remain on guard there overnight, unless there was someone else to watch over him!

Fortunately for the maid, the ghost of Seed Hill apparently slept at night and soon the rappings diminished. In their first article about the strange events, the Huddersfield Chronicle (24/Mar/1855) quoted a policeman as saying, “it’s a woise boggert, for he ligs to sleep at’neets”. Before J.K. Rowling appropriated the word for her Harry Potter novels, a “boggart” was a catch-all term applied to a mischievous and/or malevolent spirit dwelling in a house or location, so we can translate our strongly-accented policeman as saying “it’s a wise spirit, for he lies down to sleep at night”. In past times, boggarts were blamed for everything from the milk turning sour overnight to any sudden aches or pains.

After the respite, this particular boggart awoke and knocking noises once more sounded through the house, sometimes loud enough to be heard in every room. With the master of the house returned, attempts were made to ascertain where the noises were coming from — pipes throughout the house were checked, but to no avail. It seemed no-one could agree on where the source of the rapping actually was.

By now, news of the strange happenings was spreading quickly and locals were keen to experience the events from themselves. According to the Chronicle, small groups were admitted into the house where they waited expectantly for the knocking to begin… sometimes the spirit would oblige, other times not. During the evenings, large groups of people wandered around Routledge’s dye works and the neighbouring area in hope of experiencing something supernatural, but the ghost became shy with only a few sounds being reported on the Wednesday.

Thursday saw a return of the noises and it was reported “sewers have been searched, goits fathomed, pipes cleared, but all has yet failed to discover the cause of the day-rapper”. By now, the Chronicle had a journalist on-site and he reported:

We heard the singular phenomenon three times on Thursday, about noon, with some dozen others, distributed in and about the rooms on the ground floor, but none could agree as to where it came from, only that it was loud and indefinite, and produced a pitiful change in the air of some of the listeners. [On Friday] the rappings were as loud and frequent as ever, and though many gentlemen of our acquaintance, who are not easily “gulled,” visited the spot […] they assure us that there is an air of strangeness about these loud, frequent, and imperious rappings which their philosophy cannot solve ; and how or by what instrumentality brought about they, in common with Mr. Routledge, are unable to trace. At the same time we would caution the credulous against placing reliance on the thousand silly rumours afloat, as it is possible that more minute examinations of the premises may tend to make clear what is at present, to say the least, a very mysterious exhibition on behalf of something or other which has so far evaded the vigilance of the thousands who have crowed around the premises as Seed Hill during the week.

Although Routledge had been away when the noises first started, gossip began to spread that he was behind it all and that he wished to put off potential buyers of the house at the upcoming auction — “Numerous rumours detrimental to Mr. R. and his family were rife in every quarter, and every one explained the extraordinary circumstance in his own way.”

News of the ghost had by now spread to neighbouring towns and cities, with other regional newspapers carrying the story in their Saturday editions…

Halifax Courier (24/Mar/1855):

The Seed Hill Ghost.

The people of Huddersfield have been amused, surprised, and alarmed, as the case may be, these few days back, by the reported visits of a ghost, which secrets itself somewhere in the premises or mansion of Mr. Samuel Routledge, of Seed Hill. What questionable shape it may yet take, who can tell, but so far it has modestly kept out of sight, no one having seen its saucer eyes, if it have any, nor its horns or anything to make “night hideous,” beyond a noise. It is known, as yet, but as a ghost of percussion.

Leeds Times (24/Mar/1855):

During the whole of the past week the neighbourhood of Seed Hill, and in fact the whole of the “lower region” of the town of Huddersfield, has been in a state of extraordinary excitement owing to most alarming “noises” made in the house of Mr. Samuel Routledge, an extensive dyer, at Seed Hill. Mr. Routledge first called the attention of the police and the public to the matter last Saturday, declaring that the noises resembled the “striking of a door or a table-top with a stick or switcher with all one’s might;” that these noises were very frequent, and had frightened all his servants and even the cat from the house, and that he was thus left in awful solitude. The rumour spread rapidly, and every day since the house has been regularly besieged by crowds of people, all anxious to see and hear for themselves the marvellous doings of the ghost. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, several policemen were stationed inside the house. The ghost, however, was not to be intimidated either by the crowd or the police — “bang, switch, bang, switch, bang, switch,” — continued at intervals to echo through the corridors and rooms of the building. Impudent and cunning ghost! He is quite a ventriloquist; when you are seated in the dining-room, the sound appears to come from the front door ; and when you are at the front door, the sound appears to proceed from the dining room. A policeman was therefore placed at each of these places, determined to catch the ghost. “Bang, switch” echoes once more; each policeman rushes from his post to catch the fugitive ; they meet in the passage, and a terrific collision takes place, each knocking the other down, and in the mêlée the ghost escapes ! These watchings continued until Wednesday evening, when the police, fairly baffled, raised the siege, and left the ghost in undisputed possession of the fortress. The phenomenon remains a mystery, but the premises are advertised for sale by public auction on the 2nd of April, and rumour insinuates that the ghost is merely the result of some hidden galvanic wires, or some subterraneous steam pipes, and the ruse is to frighten purchasers, so that the house may be sold very cheap.

Leeds Intelligencer (24/Mar/1855):

A Ghost Story.

During the early part of the present week a good portion of the Huddersfield public have been running mad in their endeavours to discover the workings of a certain ghost, said to have located himself at the residence of Mr. Sam. Routledge, dyer, Seed Hill. On Sunday and Monday last several hundred people visited the place, and, strange to say, not a few returned deeply impressed with the reality of the story. How to capture the bane intruder has been a point which has drawn largely on the resources of the ingenious, aided by the light of official police experience, but up to the present time he continues his perambulations unchecked and undismayed. We record this much of this idle tale, as illustrating the great amount of superstition still prevalent in the popular mind.

Extra night watchmen were now employed to guard the house — perhaps with the hope of catching a hoaxer — and a joiner was “engaged to thoroughly examine the house to ascertain if any mechanical apparatus had been fixed whereby, with the aid of galvanism or other scientific means, the strange unearthly sounds might be produced”. However, said joiner could find no evidence of trickery.

On Sunday 25 March, the ghost began to extend its repertoire and the servant bells “were continually rung, but no explanation offered itself as to the cause”.

On Monday, the renowned local clairvoyant, Miss Challand, visited the house. Sadly, the ghost decided to cease activity during the visit and, despite going into a trance, Miss Challand could offer up no explanation.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw further knocking and bell ringing. However, the latter was ceased when Routledge unhooked their wires. Perhaps frustrated by this ploy, the ghostly activities now moved to the bedrooms of the house. Late on Thursday afternoon, the bedclothes and pillows were found ripped from the beds and left on the staircase and landing. This, together with the continued knocking, was the final straw for the housekeeper who fled the house, vowing not to return. Apparently that night, the watchman hired to remain in the house overnight was so scared that he “dared not close his eyes” and nod off.

Routledge returned that evening, having been away in Bradford during the day, to learn that his housekeeper had left. By now, the cost of investigating the cause was becoming serious, not to mention the ongoing local gossip, so he re-doubled his efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery. Perhaps he had had time to reflect on the events whilst away in Bradford, but he had apparently grown convinced that someone in the house must be behind it all.

It would seem the clairvoyant had already been asked to return that evening and, having gone into her trance, “performed some strange antics over and under the bed and among the bed clothes, but to no purpose”(!)

Together with some trusted companions, Routledge took up a walking stick and began banging walls and objects to see if he could replicate “the same dolorous sound” as the ghost. After much investigating, one of the group “accidentally struck the end of the barrel of a large washing-machine standing in the back kitchen, and like magic the sounds were at once explained, and on the outer end being examined hundreds of indentations were discovered.” He had indeed been right to suspect an “inside job” — but who?

Quite how many people were residing in the house at that point in time isn’t recorded, but the 1851 Census lists Routledge (a widower), his three young daughters — Catherine (aged 5), Annie (4) and Lucy (1) — along with two servants — cook Margaret Wright (26) and housemaid Eliza Barker (21). By 1854, Routledge had taken in another servant girl (“from motives of charity”), a young Irish “urchin” named Catherine Hayley (her name is variously reported as “Haley”, “Healey” and “Heeley”). One by one, apparently Routledge questioned everyone in the house and all denied having anything to do with the noises. In a dubious instance of stereotyping, a journalist later reported the Irish servant girl as saying “Shure [I know] nothing about it at all at all”!

It seems the following day, Routledge again questioned everyone and, this time, young Catherine Hayley admitted that she had “knocked a little”. That was enough for him, and he took the girl to the local police station where she was interviewed further. Here it emerged that Catherine had taken a dislike to the housekeeper and began making the noises to frighten her, for a “bit of fun”. As events escalated, she’d hoped that the noises would scare the unwanted curious visitors away.

The Chronicle reported that Catherine had used a stick and a small sandstone to bang on the washing tub and on the doors in the passageway — when the latter were examined closely, indentations were found from the banging. As for the bedlinen, she explained that she waiting until no-one was around, then slipped off her clogs, run silently upstairs, and pulled off the sheets and pillows, dragging them behind her and leaving them disarrayed on the landing and stairs. Having crept back downstairs, she slipped on clogs back on and screamed, alerting the watchman sat in the parlour. As she was wearing clogs that would have sounded on the stairs, it seems no-one thought for a minute that she was actually the culprit.

In fact, throughout the events, young Catherine had pretended to be scared by the noises and “no one for a moment thought that she could he capable of playing such extraordinary tricks, so successfully as she had done”.

Unsurprisingly, Routledge booted young Catherine out of his house. In summarising the conclusion of the story, the Chronicle lamented that some of the locals now regarded her as a heroine who had outwitted all those gentlemen who had tried to identify the source of the noises.


What with the events of March 1855 and the bankruptcy, it is perhaps a surprise to learn Samuel Routledge decided to get married again. On 1 May 1856, he married Margaret Thompson at the Church of St. John, Newcastle-upon-Type. However, the marriage was short lived and he died only a few months later, aged 53. He was buried on 23 August 1856 at St. Paul’s in Huddersfield.1 He had previously married Elizabeth Mills in Sheffield on 24 February 1844 and she died not long after the birth of last daughter, Lucy, in 1849.

Lucy Routledge was born 1 February 1849 and was baptised on 8 March 1850 at St. Paul’s. Following her father’s death, she attended a boarding school for girls in East Keswick and eventually became a governess. By 1871, she was employed by the Lee family at Wester Hall, Haughton, Northumbia. The 1881 Census found her employed by the Bankes family of Willow Green, Little Leigh, Northwich, Cheshire. A decade later she was a governess for the Weeks family of Bedlington, Morpeth, Northumberland. By the time of the 1901 Census, 51-year-old Lucy was living with her sister Catherine at 34 Little Horton Lane, Bradford, Yorkshire. It seems likely that the sisters lived together for the rest of their lives, and Lucy passed away in 1930 in Bradford, aged 80.

Catherine Routledge was born 22 February 1846 and was baptised 1 May 1846 at St. Paul’s. She married sometime around 1886, although I haven’t been able to find details of the marriage. By 1901, when her sister Lucy was living with her, she was a widow and had reverted to her maiden name. The 1911 Census shows her occupation as “herbalist” at 36 Clive Place, Great Horton, Bradford, and Lucy was still living with her. She died in 1936 in Bradford, aged 90.

Annie Routledge was born 5 March 1847 and baptised 26 May 1847 at St. Paul’s. Following her father’s death, it seems she was made a ward of Huddersfield doctor John Moxon and his wife, Sarah. There are no obvious records for Annie after the 1861 Census, so she likely married.

As for the “Seed Hill Ghost”, Catherine Hayley, she was very likely born around 1842, the daughter of washerwoman Anne Hayley. Anne was born around 1821 and lived in Sligo, Ireland, where she had at least four children with her husband. What led the family to move to Huddersfield around 1850 is uncertain, but by the time of the 1851 Census, Anne’s husband had died, leaving her a widow at age 30 with four children to support. Her oldest daughter, 14-year-old Margaret, is named as a street hawker in the census. By 1861, six years after she had been fired by Samuel Routledge, Catherine was living with her mother on Kirkgate, Huddersfield. Anne eventually died in 1890, aged 67.

In the years after 1855, a number of other cases of young girls faking paranormal activity were recorded elsewhere in Yorkshire and, more often that not, their activities would be compared to those of the “Seed Hill Ghost”.

It should be noted that Catherine apparently found another job straight away at a local public house run by John Tasker. In May 1855, she was called before the magistrates as a witness in a case where the police alleged Tasker’s wife had been caught serving beer after 10pm. Under oath, Catherine swore that the pub had been empty at that time and that Mrs. Tasker had been bringing in glasses of undrunk ale from outside when she was spotted by the police. Given her notoriety, Superintendent Thomas asked Catherine whether or not she was capable of lying. To the amusement of the court, Catherine replied that she could if she had a mind to. The magistrate fined Mr. Tasker 10 shillings plus expenses.

The 1861 Census is the last definite record I could find of her life — she was definitely not the “Catherine Hayley” who died on 26 January 1862 in Huddersfield2 but perhaps she was the “Catherine Haley” who was married in Huddersfield in 1865, or perhaps she was “Kate Healey” who married locally in 1880?

Whatever became of Catherine, the fact remains that for nearly two weeks in March 1855, she fooled everyone in Huddersfield and her deeds were reported throughout the country!

Further Reading

Local newspaper reports:

For more things that went bump in the night locally, see Haunted Huddersfield (2012) by Kai Roberts.

In a future blog post, we’ll find out what happened the day THE GHOST came to Huddersfield…


Morning Post (05/Apr/1855) – Capture of a Ghost

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

This article was widely syndicated and reproduced in many local newspapers, of which the Morning Post was just one example.

Capture of a Ghost.

As mentioned in our last, the residence of Mr. S. Routledge, dyer, Seed Hill, had, during the whole of the preceding week, been haunted by strange and unaccountable noises, but which always appeared to be in and about the passage. Numerous rumours detrimental to Mr. R. and his family were rife in every quarter, and every one explained the extraordinary circumstance in his own way. While conjecture was thus kept on the tip-toe, Mr. Routledge was unremitting in his exertions to discover the cause. Steam, gas, and water pipes innumerable were emptied and explored; sinks, drains, &c., ripped up, but all to no purpose, as his ghostship did not choose to descend to such lowness. An extra watchman was engaged, and up to Thursday night kept watch and ward. A joiner was engaged to thoroughly examine the house to ascertain if any mechanical apparatus had been fixed whereby, with the aid of galvanism or other scientific means, the strange unearthly sounds might be produced, but all was in vain, for notwithstanding these exertions, the invisible one still continued its “rappings.” On Sunday it took another shape, and the bells were continually rung, but no explanation offered itself as to the cause. The rappings were again renewed, and the same took place on Monday. The services of Miss Challand, who has “got her name up” as a faithful clairvoyante (since the discovery of the body of the missing female from Marsden), were put into requisition ; but, after being placed in the required state, nothing could be elicited from her, inasmuch as, not having heard the ghost perform his operations, she could discover nothing to detect his whereabout, or the means he employed to effect such startling sounds. On Tuesday the knockings were not so violent, and the operator confined his freaks to the daytime. Still no suspicion was entertained by any of the family that the ghost was an inmate of the house, this idea being the farthest from their thoughts. On Thursday, however, the pranks of the undiscovered visitant took another range. The bells being silent, from the fact of the wires being unhooked, it took it into its head to enter the bedrooms, and denuding the beds of their coverings, pillows, &c., dragged them down the stairs to the landing, and there left them. This was done several times, and notwithstanding the fact that, whenever there was a loud knocking or bell ringing, an Irish servant girl was sure to appear the only one really frightened, no one for a moment thought that she could he capable of playing such extraordinary tricks, so successfully as she had done ; and had she continued to confine her duties to the “rapping,” in all probability the mystery would have still remained undiscovered. The continued knocking, together with the abstraction of the bed clothes, so terrified the housekeeper that she left the house in the afternoon of Thursday, and refused to return till after the discovery. The man left in possession was so worked upon by his feelings that although he remained in the house he dared not close his eyes. Mr. R. having returned from Bradford, was informed of the whole circumstances, when it at once occurred to him that some person in the house might have been the cause of the annoyance, and considerable expense he had been put to. He, therefore, in company with a few friends, took a stick and proceeded to try by sounding the walls, &c., to discover anything which would produce the same dolorous sound, when, after spending some time in the examination, his son accidentally struck the end of the barrel of a large washing-machine standing in the back kitchen, and like magic the sounds were at once explained, and on the outer end being examined hundreds of indentations were discovered. At an early hour the next morning the servant girl, who had been taken into the house nine months ago by Mr. R. from motives of charity, and whose name is Catherine Haley, was closely questioned as to her knowledge of the “rappings.” Her reply was, “Shure she knew nothing about it at all at all,” but subsequently she admitted she had “knocked a little.” On being taken to the police-office, she during the forenoon further admitted to our reporter that she had “done it all,” could not tell how she had done it, and added that no one told her to do it, and she could not tell why she had so acted. Subsequently she stated it was done to “frighten” the housekeeper, whom she did not like ; then she said she had done it at first for a “bit of fun,” but finding so many people come about the place she had continued it for the purpose of driving them away. On further examining the premises the whole of the room doors leading into the passage were found to be in a state of indentation produced by the little urchin’s “rappings,” and under the pillow of a sofa was found a good sized stone, which had been “rapped” against the inside of the kitchen door, which upon examination bore visible marks of the effect produced. Thus at length the formidable ghost of Seed Hill has been discovered, and turns out to be nothing more than the vicious freaks of an Irish girl. No doubt the circumstance will be food for the gossips of the country for many a day to come.

Huddersfield Chronicle (13/Jan/1855) – Extraordinary Mode of Finding a Missing Human Body

The death of Sarah Ann Lumb is also covered in this blog post.

In March 1855, Miss Challand also attempted to contact the Seed Hill Ghost.

Extraordinary Mode of Finding a Missing Human Body.

The following statement will be sufficiently intelligible without any explanation on our part :—

An inquest was held by Thomas Taylor, Esq., coroner, at the Ship Inn, Mirfield, last Friday afternoon, on view of the body of Sarah Ann Lumb, who was 15 years old, and the daughter of a farmer named James Lumb, residing at Marsden. It appeared from the evidence that on Thursday the 14th ult. the deceased left her home about eight o’clock in the evening, the weather being very boisterous, and having gone about 300 yards with a schoolfellow, she turned back, and is supposed to have accidentally walked into the river Colne, particulars of which occurrence were given in the Chronicle of December 23rd. Samuel Whitehead, of Marsden, builder, deposed that deceased was his niece ; that her skirt was found in the river on the 15th ult„ about a quarter of a mile below Marsden, and that her shawl was discovered on the following Tuesday, her flannel petticoat on the 24th, and her dress skirt on the 28th ult. Advertisements were published offering a reward of five pounds, for the recovery of the body, and witness at the request of deceased’s friends, though opposed to his own judgment, had been to Holmfirth to consult a “wise man,” who, however, could give no information. Enquiries were made at Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Wakefield without success. However, on Tuesday last the witness received a letter stating that Captain Hudson was mesmerising persons in Huddersfield, and last Wednesday he accompanied Mr. Joshua Farrar, mill-owner, of Marsden, to the mesmerist’s lodgings. The captain on being asked if he knew of any person who could give information respecting a young woman who was missing, mentioned the name of a female residing at Mold Green, named Challand, a dressmaker. The witness, accompanied by Mr. Farrar, went for her and brought her back in a cab, but did not tell the purpose for which she was required. She was immediately mesmerised, and then asked if she knew what the two gentlemen had come about. She replied “Yes, about the young woman who was drowned at Marsden.” She was then asked if she knew the shawl there on a chair ; she said “yes, it is the shawl that young woman had on her head when she was drowned.” She also identified the dress-skirt which was very much torn, and was told to see where the missing woman was. The mesmerised person appeared to be asleep for about five minutes, and then gave a description of the progress of the body down the river, and ended by saying that the body was covered with mud, except her feet, within 100 yards of the second bridge in Mirfield, where horses go over. In conscience of this statement the witness went to Mirfield last Thursday, and commenced searching in the river Calder near Legard Bridge, but was told that Shepley Bridge was the second, and he accordingly had the workmen removed to the latter, where after three or four throws deceased was found in the mud about 20 yards above the bridge, and her feet did not appear to have been buried. The distance by land between Marsden and Mirfield is about 14 miles. A post mortem examination proved that deceased had come to her death by drowning, and the jury returned an open verdict. The name of the Clairvoyante is Mary Ann Challand, aged about 18; and her father for 20 years has acted as traveller to Mr. James North, of Kings Mill. She knew nothing of deceased previous to being in the clairvoyant sleep.

Extraordinary Mode of Finding a Missing Human Body