"the Cock-lane ghost"

Alright; no sniggering up the back of the class please. This is the true tale of the ghost of Scratching Fanny from Cock Lane.

The year is 1762 and one of the most entertaining and intriguing places to be in London is a small three story house in Cock Lane, near St Paul’s Cathedral where séances are being held to communicate with the ghost of Fanny Lynes. The apparent apparition made angry scratching noises and knocked on the walls to answer questions relating to the cause of her death. The séances were conducted by the owner of the house, Richard Parsons through the medium of his sleeping 12 year old daughter Elizabeth. They were theatrically assisted by Parsons’ servant, Mary Frazer, who asked the questions and interpreted the ghostly answers.

Fanny had lived in the house with her partner, William Kent. Fanny’s “ghost” accused Kent of murdering her with arsenic in her evening tipple. However it seems that Fanny actually died of smallpox and the ghost was proven to be a hoax aimed at ruining Kent after his successful legal action against Parsons for an outstanding debt. Parsons was prosecuted for the fraud.  However, enough questions remain to ensure the legend, if not Scratching Fanny herself, lives on.