"...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, November 28, 2018

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

via Newspapers,com

A ghostly church organist and a spooky cat? Sign me up. The "Calgary Herald," April 15, 1921:
London. April 2. (By Mail) Dressed in early Victorian costume, the ghostly figure of a former organist is said to haunt the ancient church of Allhallows-Barking-by-the-Tower. It is alleged to have appeared at choir practice.

Mr. Arthur Poyser (organist and master of the choristers) told how, in 1910, he first saw the apparition.

Mr. Poyser. with two solo boys, was in the practice room for special choir work. The only entrance to the church, Mr. Poyser said, was locked, and apart from the light above the piano, the building was in darkness. Anyone, to approach the room, even if the door had not been locked, must pass through two sets of folding doors, which creak badly.

"Yet in the middle of the practice," he went on, "an old lady appeared in the centre of the room gazing fixedly upon me, but without uttering a word or making a sound.

"We all saw her plainly, and so real did she appear that one of the boys offend her a chair. She simply nodded her head and sat down, remaining thus for three-quarters of an hour while we practiced our Christmas carols.

"I wondered how anybody could have got into the room, but thinking that perhaps she was a relative of one of the choir boys, I said nothing at the time. What struck me most was her eccentric behavior in not speaking to us, and her still more eccentric dress. She wore a brown shawl with a deep fringe, an old-fashioned black silk dress, and a big coal-scuttle bonnet.

"At the conclusion of the practice, much to my astonishment, she wearily rose from her seat and disappeared into the darkness of the church.

"I said to one of the boys: 'Go and tell that lady that, if she does not go out now she will be locked in,' but the boy came back and said that there was nobody there. I immediately switched on all the lights in the church, and the three of us searched every nook and cranny, but found no trace of the strange visitor and the entrance door was still locked.

"On the following Sunday, the preacher, a skeptic on psychical matters, now passed away, came to the church. I did not mention the mysterious occurrence to him, but, later in the day, he observed: 'A remarkable thing happened during this morning's service.. A huge tortoiseshell cat came out from under the piano (which was in use at the time owing to the organ being out of repair), ran round the brass altar rails and disappeared mysteriously right through the closed glass doors of the clergy vestry under the east window.'

"I then told him about my experience, and laughingly, we said that there could be no connection between tho old lady and the cat--but there was.

"Some time afterwards an old gentleman came to see me, saying that he used to be a choir. boy at the church 60 years ago. I asked him who the organist was in his day. He replied Miss Lysetta Rist, and described with extraordinary accuracy the old lady who had appeared to us in the practice room. He added that she was remarkably fond of music and animals, and used to be followed wherever she went by cats for whose food she gave money regularly.

"I verified the latter facts at Guildhall, and found that to this day sand and ashes are scattered on Tower Hill for the benefit of horses us a result of a bequest of Miss Rist, who died about 40 years ago and was buried in this church.

"Whenever any music is going on we quite frequently hear footsteps on the old wooden stairway, and other manifestations of the presence of the spirit of Miss Rist.

"Only the night before last, while seated alone at the piano in the porch music-room, playing Wagner's Master-singers, with only a single light above me, I heard distinctly a voice humming the melody apparently from behind an adjacent screen.

"Although we are all quite accustomed to such happenings, I, on this occasion, was overcome with nervousness and made a dash for the street."

"I thought it rather strange," ventured the writer, "that when I entered the church yesterday, while it was left untenanted for noonday prayer, I heard unmistakable rappings in the organ loft. I had previously been through the building in search of some one connected with the church, but no one was there at the time. A boy with a letter entered a few minutes later, on a similar errand, and. hearing the same sounds, remarked, 'I think there is someone up in the gallery."'

"Oh! you heard tho rapping, I am glad." replied Mr. Poyser. "That is a common manifestation at all times of the day and night. There have been other apparitions here, apart from that of Miss Rist, but I have only told you of what I have seen and heard myself."


  1. Ms Rist sounds an aloof but amiable ghost.

    Three things about this story: Calgary is the big city a couple of hours north of me; the name of the town 'Barking by the Tower'...; that there could be "two solo boys"...

  2. "Allhallows-Barking-by-the-Tower" - you have just GOT to love that name!

  3. I wonder why the cat was a ghost?


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