The Haunted Rectory

Wyck Rissington, Gloucestershire 

It was in 1947 when the Cheales family, Mr Cheales, his wife and their 2 small daughters moved to Wyck Rissington Rectory. Mr Cheales had served as an army chaplain during WWII so now was a good time to find a parish where all the family could live together. The previous rector to the Cotswold village of Wyck Rissington had only lasted 9 months and when Mr Cheales enquired as to why such a short time, he was told that the children of that family had suffered from terrible nightmares there. Mr Cheales found the response rather odd but pushed it to the back of his mind.  

The rectory property was built in various eras and the previous rector had closed off the Elizabethan and Queen Anne parts of the building and only lived in the Victorian part. Mr Cheales decided it would be better to live in the Elizabethan part and not the Victorian part of the building. All was quiet for the first month.  

It was when Mr & Mrs Cheales were in bed one night that they heard footsteps coming up the stairs. They describe the footsteps as like those who were wearing hobnail boots and would take slow and measured steps whilst climbing the stairs. These footsteps were heard 5 times during the next week and would always follow the same pattern; slow and steady footsteps up the stairs, then the footsteps would walk on the landing, right by the Cheales bedroom for it to walk right past the room again and down the stairs. When Mr Cheales would open the bedroom door to investigate, there was no one there but the footsteps would still be heard!  

Mr Cheales started asking around the village about these strange footsteps and found 2 elderly ladies who had once worked as maids at the rectory. They went on to describe that they had shared a room whilst working and living at the rectory and that one night, both were woken up and had both seen an elderly man with a full white beard peering at them, who then just disappeared! They asked for a new room due to this. It seemed that whoever slept in that room would be visited by the bearded spectre and no one wanted to sleep in it and in 1900, the room was turned into a bathroom.  

When the Cheales had been in the rectory for 3 months, when things took a turn for the worse. During the night, an ear-piercing disembodied scream was heard. This made the children cry out in terror from their sleep and Mr & Mrs Cheales were scared witless by it. But it was to build up to a very violent happening.  

One night when Mr & Mrs Cheales were lying down in bed, what felt like an explosion erupted under their bed and they were physically lifted out from their bed. Their windows were rattling and plaster from the ceiling fell onto them. This frightening incident was enough for Mr Cheadle to visit the Rural Dean to ask for a new parish or new place to live as all the Cheadle’s had had enough of this haunting.  

The Rural Dean listened to Mr Cheadle and all that his family had gone through, and he was a man with many years experience so related the experiences of Epworth Rectory. home of the Reverend Samuel Wegley, father of *John Wesley, the founder of Methodism in 1716. Samuel Wegley found that the more he prayed, the worse the haunting became, and he came to the belief that whatever was haunting his residence was reacting to all the prayers. It was decided to take no notice of the haunting and not to pray about it- and it worked!  

Mr Cheadle took the same attitude, He told his children that the ghost was called Geoffrey, who looked like Father Christmas and had once lived in their house so would come at night to revisit the house. The Cheadle family undertook this attitude and as time went on, the visitations became less until the only things to happen were the ghost of a black cat would be seen from time to time around the house and on the same day, every year, the sound of a window smashing would be heard. It would appear the Cheadle’s lived in that rectory for many years afterwards and were said to be happy there.    

A note of interest is that in the 1950’s, Mr Cheadle had a dream about a maze so he made a maze on the grounds, which had symbolic meanings and would be used as a spiritual tool for the Cheadle’s and their visitors. The maze was sadly destroyed when Mr Cheadle died in 1980 and the rectory was sold but there is a tile in the church which has a copy of the maze and there is also an information sheet by it, to explain the symbolic meanings and how it was used. 

*John Wesley 1703- 1791 was Anglican clergyman and founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England.