Is this photographic proof of the Newport ghost?
For years people driving or walking along a rural Shropshire road have claimed to have seen a lonely figure dressed all in white and holding a baby.
According to Newport legend it is the ghost of Madam Piggott – the wife of a local noble who died with her baby in childbirth many years ago.
Her unhappy spirit is said to haunt the area around the A41, between Newport and Market Drayton, and over the years a number of drivers and walkers have claimed to have seen her.
And while many people consider the story to be nothing more than a bit of fun, a group of ghost investigators claim they could have photographic proof that the ghost of Madam Piggott may in fact be real.
Nick Duffy, a co-founder of the West Midlands Ghost Club, said he was sent a picture of a woman in white after appealing for sightings of Madam Piggott on the group's website.
He said: "I was sent a brief note on our website saying that someone had a photograph of a ghostly figure in a white dress by Chetwynd Church, an area she is known to haunt.
"Her legend goes back centuries; everyone knows about her but nobody usually has a clear sighting and that's why I'm so fascinated by this photo," he added.
According to local folklore, Madam Piggott lived at the Chetwynd Park Estate and her husband was said to have been a sharp and harsh lover to his wife.
Squire Piggott would leave for London on business to amuse himself with dubious ladies and Madam Piggott was left at the estate alone. She fell pregnant when she was frail and weak.
Her childbirth was a traumatic one and after the midwife confessed that only the baby or the mother would survive, Squire Piggott chose to save the child's life by "lopping the root to save the branch".
But instead of saving his infant child, Squire Piggott's decision doomed his offspring and his wife.
She is said to have cursed him before her last breath, and her mournful spirit has never found peace.
The club has received numerous reports of Madam Piggott sightings over the past 25 years, but Mr Duffy said the picture – which arrived anonymously on New Year's Day – was a very significant development.
"I've seen many, alleged paranormal photographs over the years, but this one does hit all of the right notes where I'm concerned," he added.
"Basically, in a non-psychic sense it just 'feels' right.
"I love the foundation of the stories and the reports of the sightings constantly change slightly.
"One contact rang in to tell us that a relative of theirs had supposedly seen the ghost in the late 1800s, and to this day people still claim to have physically seen Madam Piggott along the relevant stretch of the A41.
"Stories claim to see a woman pushing a pram down the road which then turns into a horse.
"We've had reports of a Victorian woman sitting in passenger seats in cars and jumping on to coaches as they pass by.
"Another report claims that while two men were attending a rehearsal for a forthcoming wedding in Chetwynd Church, one saw a 'Grim Reaper' type figure, which could be Madam Piggott, gliding along some yards in front of them.
"After only a few seconds, an approaching car cleared the crest of the hill and as its headlights touched the form, the bizarre figure 'shot off' at incredible speed until it was out of sight."
Mr Duffy, from Walsall, said although he is not strong a believer in the ghosts, he lives for the folklore of stories that have been moulded for centuries and the psychology surrounding them.
The group not only follows ghostly activity, they investigate fairy sightings, gnomes and anything of a spiritual nature.
Sightings of Madam Piggott's ghost:
- According to folklore, Madam Piggott has been seen at the Old Rectory in Chetwynd, and nearby Cheney Hill, between Newport and Edgmond.
- Her white gown is said to be suspended in the air as she carried her fair haired baby, weeping with eternal grief. Stories have claimed that the ghost would jump on horsemens backs in an attempt to drag them to the ground.
- In modern day tales, the Madam has been seen in the passenger seat of cars travelling down the A41, combing the hair of her baby.
- According to the tales, she was seen pushing a pram that dramatically turned into a horse.
- Many years ago a Mr Foy of Edgmond, one of 12 local churchmen, could no longer stand her presence and assembled to lay the ghost to rest by reading psalms to the point of delirium and fatigue. Has she now returned?
- Have you seen the ghost of Madam Piggott? To report a sighting or any paranormal activity, and to get involved with the club, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Nick Duffy on 07944478708.
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