About 20 miles outside Shrewsbury is the small village of Chetwynd and like a good number of seemingly harmless rural villages it holds a dark secret and a vengeful spirit. PHILIP DAVIES goes in search of the restless ghost of the unfortunate Madam Piggott.
The Manner of the Manor
The Chetwynd Estate lies on the outskirts of Newport in Shropshire and can trace its history back to the Domesday Book where it was recorded as being made up on a mill and two fisheries. It was shortly afterwards in Saxon times that the manor was built as a home of Leofric who was the the Earl of Mercia. It is the latter stages of Chetwynd Manor’s history that interest us though, when the estate came under the ownership of the Piggott family.
The Desires of the Squire
One particularly infamous resident of Chetwynd Manor was Squire Piggott who, so it was said, was a harsh and uncaring man. As he grew older, the squire wanted for a suitable heir to inherit his fortune and estate and so took himself a wife who in turn took his title becoming Madam Piggott of Chetwynd. There was little love between the two of them and the squire would spend most of his time in London drinking and womanizing, leaving Madam Piggott in the Manor where she grew increasingly bitter and resentful toward her husband.
The Madam Saddens
After a time Madam Piggott fell pregnant, but the squire still left his wife alone in Chetwynd Manor. After years of neglect, the lady was already frail and weak and the pregnancy took a heavy toll on her and she was confined to her bed. By the time Madam Piggott went into labour she was a shadow of who she once was and it soon became clear to the midwife attending her that there was an urgent need for a doctor.
The Squire’s Ire
Having seen the patient, the doctor returned to the squire who was pacing outside the room and spoke to him with sobering words. It wasn’t going to be able to save both Madam Piggott and the squire’s still as yet still unborn child, the doctor could only save one or the other. The squire took only seconds to decide, he had wanted an heir and that was what this woman had provided him with: ‘Lop off the root to save the branch’ he said coldly. Madam Piggott heard all that had been said and cursed her unloving husband and the estate with her dying words. Having followed Squire Piggott’s blunt instructions the doctor turned his attention toward the baby, however tragedy followed tragedy and the baby was also lost.
An Apparition and Superstition
It wasn’t long after the death of Madam Piggott and her child that there were reports of the ghost of a weeping woman cradling a child seen on the grounds of the estate. The spirit sometimes often took the form of a white lady and became aggressive toward those that approached her and terrifying those passing by the estate. The troubles became so great that the local people requested the help of 12 clergyman who, after a long struggle, trapped the spirit in a bottle which they then threw it into nearby Chetwynd Pool.
A Release Upsets the Peace
It was following a particularly harsh winter on the estate that Madam Piggott returned. The pool where the bottle rested had frozen over, trapping the bottle which still floated on its surface. The ice subsequently broke the bottle and the vengeful spirit was released once again, terrorizing the area. Madam Piggott’s ghost was even wilder than before continuing to cause chaos and mayhem around the estate and even further afield. Once again a group of 12 clergymen were called to the estate to exorcise the spectre and after another long struggle they did so, once again trapping the ghost in a bottle but this time burying it and the trapped in the grounds of nearby Newport Cemetery.
Evidence of Malevolence?
Today the Chetwynd Estate is no longer owned by the Piggott family, but despite the best efforts of both groups of clergymen it would seem that Madam Piggott still doesn’t rest easy. Although there have been no reports of banshee-like activity around the area there have been numerous reports of a ‘White Lady’ seen on the A41 which runs alongside the boundary of the estate and connects Newport to nearby Edgmond. In one particularly compelling piece of evidence from as recently as 2014, a local group of paranormal investigators were sent an anonymous photograph claiming to have captured an image of the apparition. Whether this is indeed the restless ghost of Madam Piggott has yet to be proven, but it would certainly appear from the photo that there is indeed someone or something that haunts the area and just deepens the mystery surrounding this quiet part of Shropshire.