Kindred Spirit

I’ve referenced J(ohn) W(alters) Jackson several times in this blog and really wanted to find out a bit more about him. So here we go….

Mr Jackson was 2 years old when he came to Lichfield in 1864. He was a music teacher and the organist at Christ Church. He lived at 81, Walsall Rd until he left the city to live with his son in Newport,  Shropshire in October 1940 at the age of 78. During his time in Lichfield he was ‘City Librarian’. The Lichfield Mercury reported that after his appointment the number of readers increased from 70 a week to 500.

In the 1930s and 40s, Mr Jackson had a local history column in the Lichfield Mercury in  which he answered readers’ queries and shared an assortment of historical facts, folklore and transciptions from old documents. Each ‘subject’ is given a paragraph at most, so if one snippet didn’t interest, the next one wasn’t far behind!

I thought I’d share one of my favorites with you, to give you a flavour of Mr Jackson’s work. I like this one especially because the ancient manor of Abnalls is one of my favourite places in Lichfield and I love a good ghost story (this one has the added bonus of an intrepid one-man paranormal investigation as well). So I’ll hand you over to Mr Jackson…..

“The Abnalls dates back to the time of Edward I. The present hall has taken the place of the ancient manor. Many years ago it was said to be haunted. Half a century ago considerable alarm was caused by reports of a spectre being seen by various passers-by at belated hours. The writer personally visited (at midnight when ghosts are said to appear) on several occasions but after patiently waiting saw nothing of a spectral character further than weird forms in the trees and bushes in the dim light, and on one occasion the gentle waving of a white nightgown pegged on a clothes line.”

The site of the old manor off Abnalls Lane. I know it doesn't look it from the photo but it is very intriguing place and a scheduled ancient monument.The aerial view from googlemaps reveals a lot more but I'm having trouble adding it to the post at the minute, so in the meantime, maybe do your own investigation & see if you can find it!

 This kind of history might not be to everyone’s taste (but then what is?) but it sure is to mine –  I think it’s entertaining, accessible and a great source of information. If you get the chance I highly recommend that you have a look at the Lichfield Mercury archives (warning – give yourself plenty of time as you’ll be engrossed).  

I love the way that us humans,  no matter what age we belong to, are curious about the stories of the places that surround us and the people that came before us (well, most of us are anyway). Investigate the blog list to the right of this post and you’ll find a lot of curious* & entertaining souls. I like to think that if Mr Jackson was around today, he’d be doing a blog. I hope he doesn’t mind being included on this one!

 *curious in the inquisitive sense, not in the strange sense. I think 😉

9 thoughts on “Kindred Spirit

  1. I have heard of stories of a structure been on that spot before. I think a structure existed in around the 6th Century. I think there is some relevance to the English Civil War and I have also heard that this is the spot where “Lichfield” gets it’s name from and the massacre of the Christians (The Field of Blood) in a round the 2nd Century. A job for Time Team I feel to find out the truth.


    • The civil war keeps cropping up in relation to that area. Someone told me that some soldiers used that place as a base. Also yesterday, a friend told me of someone who found a musket ball over there! It would be interesting to find out if there was a way of getting some answers about that area (as well as sending a letter to Tony Robinson)!


  2. Ha! I think we might be following in Mr Jackson’s footsteps.

    I do agree about people being interested in what came before, which is why I think it’s a shame that so many people think they aren’t interested in history. Everyone is if you tell the story right.


  3. If you continue along Abnalls Lane – away from the direction of Lichfield – and turn right into The Roche, this will lead you, after only a few yards, into Hobstone Hill Lane. Almost directly across H.H.L. from Little Pipe Lane there is a footpath which leads down onto Coulter Lane. Just over halfway along this pathway, if you are travelling from the direction of H.H.L., there is, on the right hand side of the track, a peculiar earthwork. I hope the following link works! Rolls eyes! The feature – pretty much needless to mention! – can be found in the bottom left quarter of the pic.

    Unless something has recently been discovered about this feature, it appears that the origins of the spot is a total mystery!? It came to public attention a few years back now, when someone generally roaming about the region using Google Earth happened to notice it. There was an appeal in the local media subsequently, but very little was made of the matter (I believe only one newspaper bothered to mention it)……. and there doesn’t seem to have been any interest in / word on the subject since(?)

    Also of considerable interest to yours truly in the area is the aforementioned Hobstone Hill Lane…… Hob – and variants of the title – can, of course, be associated with the subject of ghosts, spooks and spirits…….. Most of the stories and legends in such instances are long lost, but the names, of course, continue on……


    • Oooh thanks for that. The earthworks are very intriguing. Looks like there’s one a bit further down too. I’d say they are remainders of some sort of industry, but they don’t seem to show on any old maps either….Maybe a destination for a boxing day walk!! Would be interesting to look on the tithe map for that area too.

      Yes the Hobstone Hill name did catch my attention a couple of months ago, as we were talking about Goblin’s Pit in Walsall on BrownhillsBob’s blog. When you start to look, you notice how many names like this there are around – there’s a ‘Pouk Lane’ on the Walsall Rd too.

      Place names are great 🙂


  4. Hi,

    Something I’d meant to ask previously…… Do you know if anyone has ever taken the time to try and chase up the initial ‘ghost reports’ that Jackson refers to in his Lichfield Mercury snippet, mentioned above? Clearly the intrepid chap wasn’t at all ruffled about visiting the spot in the hopes of possibly experiencing something himself, but it would be fascinating to see if someone could find any reports pertaining to the earlier activity that inspired him?

    If you’d be interested in emulating Mr Jackson in his nocturnal visits to the site Kim, some of the members of the West Midlands Ghost Club would be more than happy to accompany you at some point? Chuckle!!


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