The Ghost of Wem
19th November 1995

Did the ghost of a long dead girl appear to Shropshire villagers as their town hall burned?

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The Ghost of Wem

The Ghost of Wem

As Wem town hell burned, the townspeople gathered to watch the spectacle, many taking picture of the building's spectacular demise. Among them was Tony O'Rahilly who discovered on the development of his photographs that he'd photographed a phantasm amid the flames.

The provocative and haunting image of a young girl, standing looking forlornly on as the building raged around her became an overnight sensation - and a truly iconic ghost photograph. Some went so far as to identify the girl as 14 year old Jane Churm - who set fire to the building in 1677.

Naturally there were accusations of fakery or fraud, but Mr. O'Rahilly maintained his innocence up till his death in 2005.

But in 2010, retired engineer and taxi driver Brian Lear saw a picture in the Shropshire Star of pictures from Shropshire's past. In one of them a girl a stared from the photograph. A girl uncannily similar to the 'ghost' of Wem town hall. For most people, this settled the matter firmly in the direction of fakery. But while Mr Rahilly may no longer be alive to be questioned anew about his photograph, the legend still lives on.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 28th January 2011 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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