The Pluckley Psychic Historical Society is based in Pluckley, Kent, the most haunted village in England. Its founding members are the noted academic, historian, and Cambridge scholar Winston Hatherton, the white witch Florence Dearden, and the celebrated medium Jocasta Bradman. They are assisted by an 18th-century super-ghost called Jasper Claxton, although none of the society members are aware that Jasper is a ghost.
This is the third book in ‘The Ghost from the Molly-House’ series,and this book describes how the Psychic Historical Society was set up and goes back to the group’s first two official cases in 1919, just after the end of the first world war. The first story, ‘The Jewellery Box’ involves a 16th-century jewellery box made from precious metals, which is found buried in a garden and reveals a 400-year-old mystery.
The second story, ‘The Book of Souls’ is set in Huddersfield,England, at a place called Jubilee Tower or Castle Hill, which was built to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria and is on the site of ancient bronze and iron age settlements dating back 4000 years. An old book of spells is found, and once opened, it appears to have released something ominous.
The Ghost from the Molly-House series is a collection of amusing paranormal mysteries, which will appeal to fans of history, period detective novels, tales of haunted houses, and all things that go bump in the night.Although this is the third book in the series, the novel can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story in its own right.
I had planned to review this book, but I’ve been ill and my depression is bad so I’m not managing to keep up with my schedule. Instead, the author has provided an extract from the book to whet your appetites.
The Pluckley Psychic Historical Society
My name is Jasper Claxton; I was born in 1706 in London, England. I can remember some things about my life from that time but not everything, although there are many things I don’t want to remember. The past is the past, and for me, that is where it belongs, but it can teach us many lessons, that is of course if we’re willing to listen and learn. But memories can feel like a burden, and I don’t remember ever having had any hopes, dreams, or aspirations.
I never knew my parents, and I don’t know if I ever had any brothers, sisters, aunts, or uncles, but I do remember being one of many who was in the orphanages of the period, and the cruelty, hardship, and all the injustices of that time. It was a world full of ignorance, difficulty, and fear, although I know that for many the world still is today, yet the solutions to me seem simple. Surely most people would spend their lives in joyful service, working towards building a healthy loving world if due care and consideration, food, shelter, and a modest standard of living was provided. But I guess someone somewhere will always want the last fish in the sea.
For me, everything stopped in 1726; I remember being very cold, glacially cold; everything was so bleak and austere. The biting winter winds were howling, my body was weak, my legs were frozen, and I couldn’t move my limbs, my breathing became shallow, I slowly closed my eyes and the harsh world I knew faded forever into darkness.
So now I’m gone from your physical world, and although I’m in a much better place, I find I’m unable to describe it to you, I have a thousand questions that I can’t ever seem to answer. All I can say is that I feel safe, at great peace and very contented, not happy or sad, and I drift between the past and your present when you call me. Although you won’t know that you’ve called me, in fact, you probably won’t even remember me after I’ve gone, but I hope I leave you in a better place during your time in this world.
When I was born, I was put in a parish house or orphanage for the relief of the poor; this represented an important parish building, and as such came to serve as the focus for many parish activities beyond just the comfort of the poor.
I was lucky because for a time I was provided with the necessary food, some primary education, rudimentary health care, and clean clothing, although many children were brutally treated and the death rate amongst children was very high.
When I was around eight, I was apprenticed to a weaver for textile labour, and worked 12-hour shifts, and slept in a small barracks attached to the factory in beds just vacated by other children about to start the next shift.
As an orphan, the workhouse, as they became known, was a given and never a choice for me, but in the harsh economic poverty of the time, many people were reluctant to enter workhouses and resorted instead to begging on the streets. The early eighteenth century was an era of unusually severe and cruel punishment; beggars were a familiar feature of most towns and cities in my day. They would be found around shops, markets and other busy places, which where smelly, noisy, and chaotic, all aspects of life could be seen. But begging was a hazardous activity; vagrancy remained illegal throughout the century and beggars were regularly whipped and imprisoned in ‘Houses of Correction’.
Most criminal cases during the 1700s went before local magistrates, who dealt with crimes without the benefit of a jury. Magistrates were unpaid officials from the ranks of the wealthy who defended English law as amateurs. As a result, many magistrates could be corrupted, some people even saying, ‘the greatest criminals in the town were the officers of justice.’
More severe crimes such as murder were referred to Crown courts, like the Old Bailey in London. The Courtrooms were sprinkled with herbs and scented flowers to mask the stench and smell of unwashed prisoners, and much of the courts’ business was conducted in Latin. Witnesses were
usually examined by the judge and members of the jury.
The 18th-century criminal justice system relied heavily on the existence of the ‘bloody code’; this was a list of crimes that were all punishable by death and would grow to include over 200 separate capital offences. Guilty verdicts in cases of murder, rape, and treason and lesser crimes such as
poaching, burglary, shoplifting, and criminal damage like chopping down trees for firewood could all end in a trip to the gallows. Many felons were transported to the American colonies (and later to those in Australia), where they served out their sentences in hard labour.
Criminals convicted of lesser crimes were fined, branded, or shamed in front of the public by being whipped, or being set in the pillory (a wooden framework with holes for the head and hands, in which offenders were formerly imprisoned and exposed to public abuse and pelted with rotten eggs and vegetables). Long-term prison sentences in ‘Houses of Correction’ were also imposed.
Prostitution was another highly visible alternative to pauperdom. Many vulnerable young girls and boys were forced or tricked into prostitution through their failure or inability to secure work. In London, scores of streetwalkers openly plied their trade not only on the streets but in the theatres and taverns of the capital. Dozens of infamous and dangerous bawdy-houses could be found up narrow alleyways, and down side streets, sexual activity was a very public affair in the London of the 1700s.
There were other ‘beggarly trades’ that provided more ‘respectable’ incomes: as costermongers (a person who sells goods, especially fruit and vegetables, from a handcart in the street), shoe blacks, crossing sweepers, and market porters, but these were often objectionable and very physical jobs. However, they offered the poor an independent and honest way of making a living.
I finally escaped the workhouse on the Lords day, a church Sunday in 1720 and was lucky to find work as a scullion (a menial servant) with Master Taylor at The Silver Cross Tavern in Whitehall, London, which was a prominent meeting place, a place for socialising and business where people gathered to drink alcoholic beverages and be served food. It was hard work, but it offered some occasional respite from the misery and grind of daily life.…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Twitter : @GrahamePeace
I was born in Huddersfield in England where I have lived for most of my life.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I actually worked for many years in Mental Health. Since I retired writing has become my full-time occupation. My fictional book genres are humour,paranormal-historical-fantasy, mysteries, and fashion.
I’m currently working on my next book ‘The Psychic Agency’. Which is the fourth in ‘The Ghost from the Molly House’series, and will be out next year.
I don’t write horror as such, my books tend to revolve more around the paranormal, hauntings, history, and the mysterious with some humour, so you won’t find a lot of gore.