The restless witch of Arborfield

Bull Inn, Aborfield

In the Swallowfield road in Arborfield, Berkshire there stand two old farms that face each other – White’s Farm and Bartlett’s Farm. In the early 18th century, residing at White’s farm were a farmer and his wife. The farmer’s wife was scorned by the villagers believing that she regularly cheated customers, often watering down the milk and penny-pinching on the weight of butter and cheese. Some of the locals went further, accusing her of being a witch with arcane magical powers.

After she had been dead a few months, several people reported seeing a spectre haunting that lonely stretch of road – a phantom figure, wringing its hands and moaning in a hollow voice: “Weight and measure gave I never; Milk and water sold I ever!” Then, with a final shriek it sank silently into a deep pond by the road-side near to the local tavern, the Bull Inn.

Arborfield, Berkshire

This went on for some time until the entire population of the village became terrified, and were compelled to take drastic action. Seven priests came out from Reading; and they brought with them a party of men who led a cart on which was laid a huge flat stone. When the spectre appeared, the priests began chanting incantations: the ancient words that would lay a ghost. Then, after the apparition had descended into the pond, the stone was lifted over the shadowy depths and lowered into the water.

No more sightings of the witch’s ghost were reported until about a hundred years later, when a party of workmen was sent to clean out the pond. After excavating it out to the bottom, they came upon the flat stone, and were about to raise it when the manager of the site approached them and pleaded for them to not to touch it, telling them that his father had been one of the men present when the ghost was put down, and if they touched the stone, the spectre would escape and renew its nocturnal wanderings. How much truth there is in the whole thing no one knows, but to this day no one in the village would dare allow the stone to be raised!