An Elizabethan Ghost Goes West
Edwards, Francis, Contemporary Review
I must begin by saying that I was brought up in the 1930s to believe there are no such things as ghosts. Since then, if only as a result of reading Herbert Thurston's Ghosts and Poltergeists, and the original correspondence on which it was based, I have revised my views. But paranormal phenomena can have more than one explanation. Sometimes the time-film, so to speak, runs backward, so we may have the appearance of Roman legionnaires marching through parts of contemporary York. Evil spirits may manifest themselves even if we do not take The Exorcist or The Omen series too literally. How much is due to imagination, or even hypnosis, is demonstrated in Ian Wilson's Mind Out of Time. But a piece by Gillian Cribbs appearing in The Sunday Telegraph of March 21, 1993 entitled |Haunted Coutts calls in the ghost-buster' presents one with at least the possibility of a genuine earth-bound spirit who is or was still looking for the main exit even after death.
Miss Cribbs described an Elizabethan nobleman who had been executed by beheading on a trumped-up charge of treason. Since then, I have been in touch with the |ghost-buster' himself, Mr. Eddie Burks, a retired professional engineer some seventy years old, who has been |releasing ghosts' - Miss Cribbs's phrase - for some ten years. Telephone conversations suggested a man level-headed, rational and honest. It is surely important that he takes no money for his services in ushering the shades to more appropriate places. He kindly supplied further information on the Coutts Bank ghost which, as he claims, came through to him as a |clairsentient'. Our Elizabethan was |of considerable pride who had some social standing' and was |somewhat haughty'. He was |tall and fairly slim', with |a thin face and aquiline nose' and probably aged about forty. It seems he practised law. He would not |bend to the Queen's command' conveyed through the Keeper of the Great Seal, that is the Lord Chancellor - most probably Sir Nicholas Bacon. |By this time I knew too much. Did I become indiscreet I could threaten Her Majesty, so when it was discovered that I would not be amenable, a case of treason was trumped up and I was beheaded not far from here on a summer's day, which made me loath to depart'.
As Mr Burks further discerned him, he was wearing costume which was no doubt correctly taken as Elizabethan, and that of a man of rank. Curiously, |he drew my attention to the jewelled rings on his left hand and the gold or silver chain suspended from his neck. At the end of the chain was a disc with delicate tracery worked in gold or silver'. At his execution he took off his outer clothing which he did not want spoilt, which went to his son. He put on his shoulders the black mantle which was part of his |accoutrement in Law', not minding if this were spoilt since it had been |stained already through this injustice'. His daughter then approached and she led the man away. |She was dressed in Elizabethan costume, but entirely in white, and she radiated light'. He looked back for a moment |to thank us for helping him'. But he claimed that he had |been waiting a long time', and implied a rebuke because he had been kept |waiting needlessly'. This |interview' took place on August 14, 1992.
There was a final(?) visitation from the apparition on January 12, 1993. As Mr. Burks reports it, the spirit said, |I heard you talk of me and take this opportunity to return to give you my thanks, for I had not time when you did free me from my imprisonment'. He was overjoyed at his release and praised God |for all His goodness. My daughter has stayed with me to bring me familiarity with this new abode but soon she will return to her heavenly place which is as yet beyond me. But I have made friends and feel secure, for the beauty of this place is beyond my describing. Thank you again. One day we shall meet face to face and it will give me great joy to embrace you. Farewell in the love of God'.
A very important point in all this as far as the writer is concerned is that the apparition did not identify himself. …