Ghost of Cerney Wick Lane
The Ghost of Cerney Wick Lane
Former resident Roland Wakefield recalls some spooky goings-on when cycling back from Cerney Wick in the 1960s
When I was in my teens, I used to go bell ringing around the South Cerney area. I thought nothing of cycling up to 15 or 20 miles to attend a practice night or meeting, often on my own, and in the winter months it would be dark when I returned home.
But there was one stretch of road that I didn't like using after nightfall - it was along Cerney Wick Lane (or Wick Lane, as we called it) between South Cerney and Cerney Wick.
Long before the arrival of gravel quarrying and the Spine Road, Wick Lane ran between fields with a sharp right angled bend at each end and the junction with the Ashton Keynes road about half way along. Whenever I cycled along here at night, I felt uneasy, as if something was watching me and might jump out at any minute especially near the Ashton Keynes road junction. I wanted to look round but didn't dare.
If the moon was shining, I could see the cattle or sheep peacefully lying in the fields, but in the road everything was tense. The worst thing was I didn't know what I was afraid of. If I had to cycle home that way after dark, I would start pedalling as fast as I could as soon as I had rounded the corner after leaving Cerney Wick, not slowing down until I approached South Cerney. And I wouldn't feel really happy until I was over the railway bridge and heading into the village.
Sometimes I would go home a different way just to avoid Wick Lane, even though it would add about a mile to the journey. I never said anything about it for fear of being laughed at.
Then one day some 30 years later when I was visiting my parents, who by this time were living in Suffolk, my mother and I were reminiscing about South Cerney. She casually asked me if, during my cycling, I had experienced the 'ghost of Wick Lane'.
This came as quite a shock as I had never spoken to anyone about my experiences and had decided it was just me being silly.
When I recounted what I had felt during those rides home, she told me that a number of Cerney villagers had experienced the same thing. Many would not travel along Wick Lane alone after dark.
The story goes that in the 19th century a carter was travelling home one day when something freaked his horse which bolted, overturning the cart and killing him. This was the first time I had ever heard this story, or that other villagers had experienced the same sensation.
To this day I cannot say what had triggered my own feelings and fears, unless it was the spirit of the carter still wandering Wick Lane...
Could this be the ghost of Cerney Wick Lane?
From the Cheltenham Chronicle, August 1865 (as reprinted in Down Ampney News):
'On Tuesday Mr W.H. Allaway, landlord of the Eliot Arms, Down Ampney, had been to Cerney Wick, accompanied by Mr. Hardwick of Fairford, and on their return, about six o'clock in the evening, the horse that Mr. Allaway was driving turned restless and Mr Allaway was thrown from the trap over the horse's head. He was insensible. He was conveyed home and Mr Brookes, surgeon of Fairford, was sent for; but Mr Allaway died the following morning.'
William Haskins Allaway, originally from South Cerney where, he and his wife, Mary Ann, ran a grocers shop, was just 27 years old when he died in this accident. His son was christened just a week after his death.