The Ghostly Party Giver - Squire Cooke of Lincolnshire
The ghosts too, seem to like the company of their fellow Lincolnshire citizens. None more so that the ghostly squire of Digby. For if there’s one thing to be said for Robert Cooke of the village of Digby it’s that he knows how to throw a jolly good party.
This is a welcome ability in anyone, but in this case it is most impressive, for Squire Cooke has been dead these past two centuries. It is his ghost which throws the parties for his fellow phantoms. And it is no wonder for Squire Cooke has the largest and most impressive tomb in the churchyard of Digby.
Squire Cooke was born in 1746 as the Georgian period was getting into its stride. Like many other gentlemen of his period, Squire Cooke enjoyed a booming prosperity based on the gathering pace of the industrial and agricultural revolutions that ensured ready markets for the food he was growing on his broad acres around Digby.
By all accounts, Robert Cooke was not one to hoard his gold. His house became famous for its hospitality and for the good time to be had there. Local families vied for invitations to the Cooke home and the matrons eyed up the Squire’s growing son as a good marriage prospect for their daughters.
The merry life obviously agreed with Robert Cooke for he lived to be 72 years old, a most respectable age for the 18th century. In spite of being a big spender, Cooke must have left considerable wealth, for his heirs had enough money to pay for a large stone table tomb in the churchyard. On the tomb they proudly described the deceased Squire as being “Robert Cooke, Gentleman” and gave the dates of his birth and his death.
It was not long before the stories began to circulate. Squire Cooke had been preceded to the tomb by most of his boyhood friends. Now, it was said, the old squire was inviting his pals to visit just as he had done when alive. And the parties, folk related, were every bit as impressive.
All you had to do to hear the venerable old squire and his friends was run backwards around the tomb twelve times, then listen. If Squire Cooke was partying you could clearly hear the clink of glasses and the sound of merrymaking.
One man who tried this in 2001 reported. “It was not easy as the ground is uneven and the other tombs crowd in around those of the Cooke family. I tripped twice, but managed to keep going. Eventually, I had completed the required twelve circuits and, a spot out of breath, leant on the tomb to see if I could hear anything. Amazingly I could. The sound of laughing and rattling glasses was clear enough. But it was coming from the Red Lion just down the road, so I went there for a pint and a ploughmans. Lovely grub.”
from "A Ghosthunters Guide to England" by Rupert Matthews.
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