"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

In last week's post about the "Syderstone ghost," I mentioned Edward Moor's book "Bealings Bells," where he described some inexplicable--and in his mind supernatural--bell-ringings that took place at his home in 1834. It seemed appropriate to give this reputed haunting equal time, so to speak.

This summary of Moor's book comes from Robert Dale Owen's 1871 "The Debatable Land." ("Bealings Bells" is available on Google Books, for anyone curious to read the whole thing.)

And, yes, this week I am presenting a clipping from a book, not a newspaper.  So, I cheated.  It's a blogger's prerogative.

This disturbance commenced on the second of February, 1834, at the house of Great Bealings, inhabited by Major Edward Moor. On the afternoon of that day, being Sunday, during the absence of Major Moor at church, and while only one manservant and one maid-servant were at home, the dining-room bell was rung, without visible cause, three times. The weather was calm; the barometer at 29°; the thermometer within its usual range. There were no remarkable atmospheric phenomena.

Next day the same bell sounded several times, equally without apparent cause. On the third day, five out of the nine bells, suspended in a row in the basement of the house, gave forth several loud peals, while nobody could detect any one meddling either with the pulls or the wires.

After this all the bells in the house, twelve in number, were (except one, the front door bell) repeatedly rung in the same manner; five bells usually ringing at a time. The wires of these five pealers were visible in their whole course, from the pulls to the bells themselves, except where they passed through floors or walls by small openings. 
This continued day after day throughout February and March. The bells usually rang after a clattering fashion, quite different from the usual ringing. "With no vigour of pull," says Major Moor, "could the violent ringing be effected." Pulling the horizontal wires with a hook downward produced only a gentle, tinkling sound. The Major further says: "The motion of the bells, and that of their spiral flexible support, when rung by hand, was comparatively slow and perceptible; not so at the peals, it was then too rapid to be seen distinctly."

Major Moor was naturally much surprised by these apparent prodigies; and he, his servants, and friends, made many efforts to find some natural explanation, but wholly without success. Then he inserted a minute statement of particulars in the Ipswich Journal, describing the situations of the bells, and the arrangement of their wires, in hopes that some one would be able to suggest an explanation, but no explanation beyond surmises of trickery ever reached him. In reply to certain inquirers who probably thought they were suggesting adequate cause, he replied that his house was not infested with rats, and that he kept no monkey.

The last ringing was on March 27, 1834. It is abundantly evident from Major Moor's book that he spared no pains, throughout the seven and a-half weeks during which the strange annoyance lasted, to detect fraudulent artifice, had artifice under such circumstances been possible. He avers: "The bells rang scores of times when no one was in the passage or back building, or house or grounds unseen: I have waited in the kitchen for a repetition of the ringings, with all the servants present, when no one could be in concealment. But what matters? Neither I, nor the servants, nor any one, could or can work the wonderment that I and more than half a score of others saw." Finally, the Major declares: "I am thoroughly convinced that the ringing is by no human agency."

From Major Moor's book we learn that his communication to the Ipswich Journal brought him letters containing fourteen different examples of mysterious bell-ringing, every one of them unexplained; all occurring in England, namely, in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Derby, Middlesex, and in or near the towns of Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Chesterfield, Cambridge, Bristol, Greenwich, Windsor, and London; all of comparatively recent date, and most of them attested by the signatures of those who witnessed them, with permission to give their names to the public...The fourteen examples, be it remarked, are all of one particular phase of manifestation; a rare phase, so far as my observation goes: I have notes of but one such in the United States, namely, in a house in Pine Street, Philadelphia; lasting during five days of the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, 1857. 
But even of this rare phase of manifestation, we cannot imagine that in the fourteen examples presented in Bealings Bells, we have more than a very small installment of similar cases which might be found in England. The chances are that nine men or women of the world, out of every ten, would shrink from the notoriety, or shirk the trouble, attendant on the presentation of such narratives for publication.

Even in this small book, then, what a lifting of the veil on the thousand marvels that may have occurred in all ages, unrecorded or unexplained!

[Note: Cf. This previous post about a Mystery Doorbell.]


  1. It would be interesting to have modern science with its field of seismology and others, to have a go at such a mystery. It would probably remain unsolved.

  2. I am surprised to no one at the time attributed the phenomenon to mice creeping across the wires in the walls.

    1. Many did, but the ringing was so vehement (it bought the plaster of the ceiling down) and so mechanically limited that mice couldn't have been the cause, unless the mice were supernaturaly instructed.


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