England has nurtured centuries of once-infamous ghost tales, now lost to public imagination, languishing in museum tomes. Similarly, not all ghosts are veiled ladies, shrieks in the night or headless horsemen. Some are undead lawyers, tormenting butcher’s stalls in the 17th century.
The Smithfield ghost is one of the capital’s lesser known hauntings, and was only vaguely documented in a niche work from the 1930s, titled ‘The Mystery and Lore of Apparitions’. However, the account referenced within the collection originates from 1654.
The Smithfield ghost was an infamous, mischievous spectre, having an established name, profession and business hours.
The spectre was identified as a lawyer called Mallet, who seemed to do little legal work in the afterlife. He did, however appear between the hours of 9pm and midnight, every Saturday. He was very fond with tormenting the local butchers of the district, pulling joints of meat from their stalls and fleeing from the scene of the crime.
The ghost did this so brazenly, directly in front of the butchers’ gaze. But try as they might, they could never catch him. They would chase him with blades and cleavers, but every swipe was met with nothing but air.
Sadly, there are no accounts of the litigious butcher-botherer recorded in recent centuries. But legend says, if you wave a leg of lamb outside a Smithfield butcher’s shop at midnight, he will appear and swipe the carcass from your hands…
(Go on, try it and let me know.)