IN TIMES past before the days of radio and TV, evenings were spent at home reading and telling stories.
As the old year faded the recounting of ghostly happenings both real and imaginitive would be told and have the children of the family hiding away, and with the adults even a few goose bumps on the back of the neck, should the tale be too ghastly or vivid. I must admit that I have been conscious of a presence on more than one occasion.
Many years ago I paid a visit to Margam Abbey in South Wales, and on entering I thought I saw someone in a monks habit close to the sanctury. I later found that there were no longer monks at the Abbey, and whether it was a trick of light or my imagination, I don't know. I am still convinced I saw a figure.
On another occasion I had the good fortune through a relative, to be invited to witness the Ceremony of the Keys, the ancient custom of locking up the Tower of London each evening at 10 o'clock. We were invited back to accomodation within the Tower precincts and told to look around. On one staircase landing I went completly ice cold and later at supper one of the party asked our host whether there was a precence in the flat. We were told there was, but it did not bother them. There are many tales told of ghostly happenings at the Tower of London, but with its history of murders and cruelty, it is only to be expected.
The most haunted place in this area seems to be Old Cranford where the stories of the "Grey Lady" seen at night, near to St.Dunstans Church and Cranford Park have been circulating for many years.
However,there is one well documented account of a ghostly sighting in Cranford House, by Moreton and Grantley Berkeley, when they were young men living in the house. In his autobiography "My Life and Reflections" published in 1864 Grantley wrote of the time that he and his brother had stayed up late in the hope of going into the grounds and apprehending some poachers who had been active in the area. On the night in question when all the servants and the rest of the family had retired to their rooms, the two boys went downstairs and opened the kitchen door with the intentions of leaving the house by the back door.
The glowing embers of the kitchen fire was enough to light the room and much to their surprise they saw a woman dressed as a servant standing on the other side of the kitchen table, although her face appeared indistinct. The boys locked the door behind them, hoping to see who it was in the kitchen at such a late hour. The figure disappeared behind a screen, and although a thorough search was made, nothing and no one was to be found. Moreton and Grantley later recalled that their father the 5th Earl had said that he too had once seen the ghost of a man going down to the cellars. These are still there although the house was demolished many years ago.
Moreton, who became the 6th Earl had a house built on the edge of the park at Cranford Lane, later known as the Red House, where he died. It was recently demolished, but was at one time the offices of the Middlesex Chronicle. A number of odd occurences happened there. One evening when working late on his own, one member of staff heard the front door being opened and closed as though someone had come in. He left his work and searched the place, only to find he was still on his own. Another incident was when a lady editor of the Chronicle was also working late one evening on her own, the staff having left. Much to her surprise all the computer screens suddenly came on. A bit puzzled, she went round and turned them all off, and resumed her work. Suddenly they all came on again, which made her feel quite nevous, as she told me, that was no place for her on her own. So grabbing her belongings hurried down the stairs and made for home.As she did so, the door at the top of the stairs banged itself shut. It does make you think !
The Heston and Isleworth Orchestral Society held a most successful concert at the Baths Hall, when a large audience which assembled was trated to a rare musical feast. The orchestra, which is composed of some 50 musicians, took up position on a large an specialy constructed platform were under the conductor Mr.G.J.Baumbach who has recently been appointed to replace Mr.Roland Barkby who had to retire on account of ill health.
The orchestra rendered a number of classical peices which reflected great credit on the new conductor and the members generaly. The first peice chosen for interpretation was Sullivan's "Di Ballo" which was rendered in fine style, and the well known overture from "William Tell" was given with great effect. Mr.Baumbach played the solo in the Andante and Allegro from Mendelsohn's violin concerto in amost skillful manner and had to bow his acknowledgements to the loud applause.
Songs from Miss Edith Serpell and Mr.Lorne Wallett were well received and encores called for on a number of pieces. Mr Wallett's gave Wagners "Star of Eve" much expression as with "The Irish Fuslier" (Squire).
The extensive alterations that have been in progress for some time on the District Railway are now almost completed, and we may expect a greatly improved and accelerated service of trains on the local line.
The alterations which have cost nearly a quarter of a million pounds will allow four roads being brought into use on the line between Hammersmith and Chiswick Park. This will permit a much larger passage of trains between the City and the western termini. It is stated that the service to Turnham Green will be increased from 199 to 270 per day and to Hounslow from 121 to 135.
There will also be a more frequent service of non stop trains. One would think that enterprise could go no further and certainly when one considers the condition of the line in the old days with its ceasless jolting and stifling fumes when no one travelled Underground unless on compulsion. One can only reagard Mr.A.H.Stanley as a sort of magician who has converted an old smoky lamp into the very latest electric efficiency.
At the meeting of the Feltham District Council a letter was read from the Rivers Purification Committee complaining that no steps had been taken by thy Council up to the present time to prevent the pollution of the water course running into the Thames by foul matter from the district water sewer.
A sample of the water had been recently been taken from the village pond and from the outlet at the Port Lane Brook, and both were found to be bad. Under these circumstances the Committee called the serious attention of the Council to the fact that it was their duty to prevent this pollution. That they should at once take steps to comply with the request sent to them on May 10th 1910.
It was decided to send this letter to the Sanitary Committee for consideration and report. With regards to the inspection of the premises of Messrs. Scheggia and Company at Hanworth Park, it was reported that the method adopted for getting rid of the sewage from the pigstyes at these premises is by emptying it on to a manure heap situated near the Port Lane Brook, and this will sooner or later cause trouble with the Thames Concservancy Inspectors.