The Haunted Cellars of the Tite Inn, Chadlington
3 October 2023 (Updated 4 October 2023)
The Tite Inn at Chadlington has been a public house for at least 160 years, and the building dates in part back to the 17th century. Its cellars are said to be haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman in old fashioned garb.
Witches and Civil War ghosts at Chadlington
In his book Haunted English Pubs, Donald Stuart writes that the ghost is said to be connected to the Battle of Edgehill, but no explanation is given as to what would tie an elderly woman in a Chadlington cellar to a renowned battle that took place 18 miles to the north. Perhaps the ghost is waiting patiently for a loved one destined never to returned from the battle?
Stuart also mentions an investigation conducted prior to the First World War into the local belief in witchcraft, which was evidently still prevalent in Chadlington at the time. During the investigation, locals reported that within living memory three local witches had been buried up to their necks as a way to force them to confess to their crimes! However, there doesn't seem to be any suggestion that the ghostly woman who haunts the cellar at The Tite Inn might have been a witch.
Chadlington traction engine tragedy
In October 1888, the Tite Inn was the scene of the inquest into a tragic accident that had occurred on a road close to the inn. The landlord at the time was Henry Betteridge, and his 15-year-old son Walter witnessed the accident and testified to the events at the inquest.
It seems that a traction engine was travelling down the road, and unbeknownst to the driver, a group of young children from the village had hitched a ride on the engine. One of these, 7-year-old Clara Souch, lost her balance, fell into the road and was crushed by the wheels of the engine, killing her instantly.
The man driving the traction engine was George Mitchell of the Oxfordshire Steam Ploughing Company, who had 19 years experience driving traction engines. At the inquest he stated that he could not see the children from where he was sitting on the engine, and the first he knew of their presence was when a young man (presumably Walter) had run up and shouted to him "You have run over a child."
Mitchell explained that they were following safety procedures by having a 'flagman' walking 60 yards in front of the engine, but this man presumably also didn't notice the children riding on the engine. Tellingly, Mitchell also mentioned that after having completed their trashing job at Curdle Hill Farm (close to what is now Jeremy Clarkson's Diddly Squat farm!) that day, they had been given beer by their employer.
However, in 1888 it was not a crime to be intoxicated behind the wheel of a traction engine, and young Clara Souch's death was ruled an accident. The Jury expressed an opinion that no blame could be attached to anyone.
Another death by steam in Chadlington
This was not the first death caused by steam-powered farm machinery that had occurred in Chadlington. In July 1869, 26-year-old farm labourer William Hains was killed when he fell under the wheels of the steam plough engine that he was working with in a field near the village.
His death was ruled as accidental, although the jury intimated that if more care had been taken to secure the engine, the accident could have been avoided.
- Oxford Journal, Saturday 20 October 1888
- 'Haunted English Pubs' by Donald Stuart (CPI Group Ltd, 2011)