A few years ago, myself and team members Chrissie and Dave Rising did a series on hauntings around numerous city’s. For one of them episodes we decided to do the city of Doncaster. I had picked the locations to go and decided to include a specific haunting of a tree. The location of this tree was in Mexborough, which was on the way to Doncaster in the UK.
We actually found the tree and it is located near Ferrybridge, but it was pure consequence we came across it.
The story hauntedyorkshire.com stated that around 1900 a young girl was hynotizied into such a state that she walked down to the River Don and hung herself. Legend said that if you visited this tree during sunset you can see the ghost of this girl hanging, but you never see the rope she used and that several youngsters had reported seeing her over the years. In 2009 a interesting picture was captured next to the tree which seemed to tally with what was rumoured to be haunted there and Haunted Yorkshire decided to add this to their site.
This week I decided to purchase the Haunted Doncaster book, which is also written by Haunted Yorkshire and was fascinated to see that this tree and its haunting was detailed a lot more within it.
I can confirm that a suicide of a lady did indeed take place in this area at the canal, sucide by drowning – but she was indeed much older than the girl detailed in the story below.
THE SEANCE DOLL
The legend of the tree is as follows and I am yet to find any evidence to suggest its true but that isn’t to say it isn’t…Normally there is some element of truth to some legends, so ill keep looking.
A Moderate well off family living in Mexborough at the turn of the 20th century suffered the loss of their son – The parents thought it was nothing more than a horrific accident when he was found hanging from a tree by his school tie.
During 1882 – 1915, it was not uncommon for wealthly parents who lost a child to participant in ritual seances. These seances attempted to entice the spirit of the child into communicating. Often toys such as dolls was used to lure.
Dolls specifically made for this use was normally blessed by a spiritualist church and the clay was mixed with salt for purification and to turn bad spirits from interacting with the doll.
In these seances, the bereaved parents would often use a real child who normally was female. They would act as the vessel for the child who had died to come forward. Normally there would be a séance leader present who would put the child under a hypotic state. Not everyone agreed with this method and even many believed it opened up contact for any entities to use the child as a vessel and this is why dolls was often used.
So, back to the story, the wealthy family who lost their son – which to me sounds as if it may have been more suicide than ‘an accident’, decided to contact a séance leader. I have looked and there was local spiritualists in the area of Mexborough at this time. This one specific leader, his name is not mentioned, was renowned for having a high success rate in contacting the dead children by trance mediumship. He used his nine year old daughter to do this and would often send her into a hypnotic state.
It was agreed that the séance was to be done at 3AM- 4AM commonly known as ‘Dead Time’, when it is thought the veil between the spirit world and physical world are to be at its thinnest. A total of 5 people attended the séance : the childs parents, a family friend. the séance leader and his daughter…..
The séance began with them all holding hands around a table and the séance leader and his daughter were seated opposite to one another. The only source of light being a single candle [placed in the middle of the circle).
The séance leader then pulled out his pocket watch and informed the group that once hypnosis had been reached nobody must break the cirlce. He then used the watch to send his daughter into a hypnotic state by swinging it back and fourth and asking her to follow him down a dark staircase as he counted down from 10.
Once hypnotised he then sent his daughter to venture into the spirit world to look for the lost child. He had done this many times to his daughter, but this time was different. When he instructed her through his voice to venture further into the darkness, to find him, the lost boy – she replied ‘I cant; its dark in here and its not the normal place. I think im in hell.’
The boys mother cried and at this point the enraged family friend said ‘enough is enough’ and at this point the séance ended and a refund was demanded. The friend rose from his seat and broke the circle. A gust of wind rushed through the room and the candle went out, leaving them all in total darkness. The girl then let out a huge screech and the séance leader at this point stood up and asked everyone to remain calm. He relit the candle and was shocked to see that his daughter had vanished, not just from her seat but from the locked room.
A search party was rounded up to check the building from top to bottom but there was no trace of her. They carried on looking for her and it wasn’t until daybreak that she was discovered hanging from a nearby tree at the side of the canal near where the Ferry Boat Inn once was. Her father was outraged and he blamed the irresponsible behaviour of the family for her death.
This has then later in years resulted to people seeing a apparitition around a certain tree. Is the tale true? And if not Is the lady at the tree actually the ghost of the lady who drowned? It was around the same era.
Up to yet, We haven’t found anything to suggest it is, the only 2 things we do know is a lady did died here due to suicide and a spiritualist church was close by.