Thursday, 17 September 2009

A Legendary Tale of Bloody Murder!!!


At a time when the W.M.G.C. have recently received word of the proof-reading of Carol Arnalls 2nd paranormal related novel, 'Spirits of the Lights', we take the time to delve into yet another 'spooky tale of old Staffordshire' which has, in the past, featured in some of Carols works. Having been inspired by such references, the area concerned has been a frequent destination of W.M.G.C. members over the past decade or so.....

The Case of the 'Bloody Steps'.....

"To the memory of Christina Collins, Wife of Robert Collins, London, who, having been barbarously treated was found dead in the canal in this parish on June 17th 1839, age 37yrs. This stone is erected by some individuals of the parish of Rugeley in communication of the end of the unhappy woman".

The above legend is the epitaph found on the grave of Christina Collins, situated in Rugeley Parish Churchyard. The 'barbarous treatment' that the unfortunate Christina underwent was brutal rape and subsequent murder at the hands of three drunken bargee's upon whose vessel she had booked passage to join her husband in distant London. This mode of transport was - while extremely slow - a cheap and relatively common option during the earlier part of the 19th Century.......

Upon discovery of the crime, it took very little time for the authorities to 'put two and two together' and the three occupants of the narrow boat concerned were apprehended. As with a great amount of crime during this period, the 'dread drink' was apparently to blame... the men concerned having been transporting a consignment of liquor - along with Christina, of course - and a considerable amount of 'skimming' from their cargo had taken place. One thing had, sadly, led to another and Christina had soon found herself the focus of drunken attention.

Suffice it to say with regards to the crime itself - following the subsequent trial and sentencing - two of the three men were hanged for this most heinous crime, with the third being sentenced to transportation for life.....

The 'Bloody Steps' referred to in the title of the story (pic above) were a flight of stone stairs up which Christina's broken body was carried to rest at the Talbot Inn, a few hundred yards from the site of her murder in Rugeley. The name itself derives from the legend that her blood is said to have dripped into the stonework of the steps as she was transported, giving them their somewhat grisly title. The monicker still persists to this day, despite the fact that the original steps were replaced many years ago.

In 1939, two Rugeley women were out walking, close to the infamous steps, when they report having suddenly heard the sound of a woman screaming in a thicket off to their right. Upon turning to investigate, they were surprised to see the figure of a man with long hair, which was tied back, dressed in old fashioned, black and white clothing of good quality. The figure proceeded to walk across a nearby lawn - straight through a fence - and paused about a yard distant from them. (Strangely, they said that his clothes could be seen to be moving with the wind that was blowing that day!?). The women noted the mans sad eye's and face as he stood and stared at them for a short while, then, suddenly and without a word, he turned and disappeared into an nearby upturned tree trunk.........

On their way home, the women passed through St. Augustine's Churchyard in Rugeley, and found themselves drawn to the grave of Christina Collins. In awe, they noticed that it was exactly 100yrs to the very day that the ghastly crime had been committed....

Mystery still remains as to exactly who the silent apparition actually was and precisely what - if any - role he had played in events surrounding the Christina Collins murder. Some suggest that it was perhaps the shade of Christina's husband, Robert, who had put in an appearance on the anniversary of his wife's death.... though it has to be said that this seems an unlikely event due to the fact that Robert Collins had never been recorded as visting the site concerned. Needless to say, some, perhaps more accurate, theorising points - on the basis of the scream which heralded the appearance of the figure - towards one of her murderers as being a more likely culprit for the apparition?

Who knows...?

The W.M.G.C. would like to take the time to appeal to blog readers to send in any ghostly experiences - preferrably Midlands / Staffordshire based - to Carol for future publication. All stories / accounts - most gratefully received - can be posted to: cas.arnall@ntlworld.com

Best wishes to all,

The W.M.G.C.

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