The garrison church at Fulwood Barracks dates from 1847. It is haunted by a soldier, thought to be a former Chaplain who lost his life in the First World War. He was seen quite clearly in full light of day by the verger of thirteen years, who turned from her work to see ‘a soldier in full dress uniform’ standing quite still, his hands resting on his sword. The Padre, to her surprise, believed her without question. He explained that a soldier guarding a coffin in the church would quite naturally be wearing full uniform and would be leaning on his drawn sword, just as she had seen.
In recent years a TV crew came to investigate the story of the haunted church and their sophisticated camera panned around the church until the pulpit area came into view – the spot where the ghostly soldier had been seen. The camera promptly malfunctioned. Several times.
The old Officers’ Mess also has its own ghost, which is well-documented. An officer stationed there in 1910 wrote his own account. His own room was on the ground floor of the Mess and was clearly an original part of the building, as it still boasted a marble mantelpiece. One night, the Officer retired to bed as usual but was much disturbed by a gale and, later, a single clap of thunder. He opened his eyes and saw, to his surprise, a luminous figure between the bed and the fireplace. He spent the rest of the night in another Officer’s room…
The Officer was teased about his experience for days but was vindicated about three weeks later, when a certain Lieutenant Walmsley, newly arrived at the Barracks, mentioned in conversation that a friend had told him of his experience there. The soldier had slept in a room with a marble mantelpiece, he said, on the ground floor. He had seen something, he said, in that room.
A couple of years later, another Officer, Lieutenant James, was returning to his room in the same block when he saw something in the passage so clearly that he instinctively drew his sword and took a swipe at the shape, hitting only the wall.
Legend has it that the ghost is that of a cavalry man, stationed at the Barracks in the early days, who had died in that very room, the one with the marble mantelpiece. Private McCaffrey had been sentenced by Captain Hanham to a fortnight’s confinement after the relatively minor offence of failing to apprehend some stone-throwing children. McCaffrey was furious at this sentence and furious with Hanham, who had a long reputation for bullying. One day, he saw Captain Hanham walking across the parade ground with Colonel Crofton and he raised his gun and fired, killing both the Captain and the Colonel with a single bullet.
Private McCaffrey was sentenced to death by hanging.
Finally… the old Roman Road, Watling Street, passes through the parade ground at the Barracks. It is said that a legion of Roman soldiers can sometimes be seen marching along this road.
Hello. The story is the basis of a folk song which was possibly put together from a street ballad
This is it
When I was scarcely eighteen years of age,
To join the army I did engage;
I left the fact’ry with good intent,
To join the 42nd Regiment.
To Fullwood Barracks I then did go
To serve a short period in that depot;
But out of trouble I could not be,
For Captain Hansen took a dislike to me.
While standing sentry out one day,
Some soldiers’ children came out to play;
I took one’s name, but not all three –
And with neglect of all duty he did charge me.
In the barracks court-room I did appear,
But Captain Hansen my sad story would not hear;
The sentence it was quickly signed,
And to Fullwood Barracks I was then confined.
For fourteen weeks and fifteen days
The sentence rose and turned my brain;
To shoot my captain dead on sight
Was all that I resolved to do each night.
I saw him standing in the barracks square,
A-walking arm in arm with Colonel Blair;
I raised my rifle, and fired to kill:
I shot my poor colonel against my will.
I did the deed, I shed the blood,
And at Liverpool Assizes my trial I stood.
The judge he says, “McCafferty,
Prepare yourself for the gallows tree.”
I had no father to take my part,
I had no loving mother for to break her heart;
I had one friend, and a girl was she –
She’d lay down her life for McCafferty.
Now all young soldiers take a warning by me:
Don’t have nothing to do with the British Army.
For only lies and tyranny
Have made a murderer out of McCafferty!
In Liverpool City this poor boy died.
In Strangways Manchester his body lies.
Now all good people who do pass by,
Go shed a tear for McCafferty!
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Hi Martin and thanks! That’s brilliant and I hadn’t come across it before. Slight discrepancy with the surname – I wonder which was correct? So interesting.
Hello and thanks. I’m pretty sure that McCafferty was used in the Ballad because it scanned better and that your version is right. The ballad was popular with Irish Catholics of whom there were a lot in the North West… Ewan McColl recorded it. Thanks a lot for your post which I enjoyed.
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He was at the altar next to my mum when she looked for him after the service the padre explained who he was
Marvellous! When did this happen? As a child I lived close to the Barracks and attended church and Brownies there, but never saw the ghost (to my knowledge). I wonder how many people have seen it and not realised?