The Ghost Clown of Flaybrick Cemetery

‘There’s a clown in my graveyard, what am-ah-gonna-do?’ the people of Birkenhead once yelled in the early 1990s. Or at least they would have done if they were particularly big UB40 fans.

Odd people hanging around in burial grounds is hardly a new development, and neither are claims of mysterious spectral figures wandering between the graves. But clown ghosts? Well, that’s a new one on me.

Image of Flaybrick Cemetery via the Liverpool Echo

During the Isle of Man air race, pilot Charles Fry tragically died in a terrible accident. The pilot had lost control and crashed his aircraft into a house at Hanworth. His body was brought back to his home town of Wallasey for burial with the local cemetery of Flaybrick chosen as his final resting place.

A large crowd of mourners had gathered to attend Fry’s funeral and burial, with his close family and friends standing close to the open family grave. As they peered into the open plot, one mourner saw an exposed coffin at the bottom of the plot. The plot of Fry’s uncle, and not the intended family plot at all. According to the Wirral Globe, the woman shrieked ‘This is not the right grave! This is not the family grave!’

Image via WirralView

The funeral party had to wait in the cemetery for nearly two hours while the gravediggers searched for the correct Fry family grave. Yet as they began to push their spades into the soil, a bizarre woman suddenly appeared. Dressed as a Pierrot clown, she began loudly laughing and mocking the cemetery staff’s mistake. Believing the woman to be a local eccentric or mentally ill, the mourners ran towards the strange clown woman to chase her away, but as soon as they approached her, she disappeared, only to re-appear at another area of the cemetery. Again and again, the clown woman faded and popped up behind different graves, still cacking in her monochromatic clown getup. The spectral clown was not satisfied with disruptive laughter, but continued to mock mourners, pulling faces at their frustration and eventually hurling urns, water and grave flowers at the grieving party.

French Clown circa 1923 via Wikimedia Commons

The group of gravediggers had remained by the gravesite, watching the bizarre ghost go about her business. While the youngest worker shook with fear, the older worker was no stranger to the undead clown. He explained that he had last seen the ghost in 1910 and that she was the spirit of a deceased female clown.

The peculiar Pierrot made several more appearances over the years, with two detailed accounts recorded in the mid 1990s. In 1995, a group of teenagers sneaked into the cemetery after hours, intending to scare one another with a game of midnight hide-and-seek. One of the teenagers, a 14-year-old girl had crouched behind a marble cross when she perceived a white mass was slowly creeping towards her. The girl turned in terror as the figure crept clearer into her line of vision. Staring back at her was a woman of about 5’7”, wearing an oversized, silk clown suit with pink pom pom buttons, a white cap and a face thick with greasepaint makeup. As the teenager stood shocked, the ghost bellowed ‘Get away from my grave!’.

Actress Clara Bow in Costume for the film ‘Dangerous Curves’ 1929. Via Clara Bow archives.

The teenager screamed and tried to run, but tripped and fell onto the grass below. Before she could right herself, she felt the tight, squeezing pressure of gloved hands tightening around her throat. The ghost’s hands grew stronger and more violent, shaking her so forcefully that the girl’s head hit the ground.

Somehow, the teenager managed to break free and ran as fast as she could, desperately hurling herself back over the wall. While she was too scared to warn her friends, they quickly met the ghost themselves as screams, and a rush of frightened bodies flung themselves over the wall, desperate to escape the clutches of the angry clown.

Flaybrick Cemetery by Craig Simpson on Flickr

One year later in May 1996, a reporter and photographer from the local newspaper were driving past the cemetery on their way to a reservoir to chase a story about a substantial leak. As their car passed the cemetery wall, they saw a person in a white clown suit climbing over the wall and suddenly bolting in front of the car. The reporters swerved and braked to avoid hitting her, whereby the photographer looked behind them to see the clown clear the six foot wall (topped with railings) in one enormous jump. As they sat aghast in their car, a man from the neighbouring allotments came over to talk to them. After explaining what they had seen, the gardener told the shaken men that they’d seen the ‘clown woman’. Reportedly, they asked him ‘Is she insane? What’s she dressed like that for?’, to which the old man responded ‘She’s dead. She’s a ghostie.’ Before walking away.

Over the years, many people have spotted the cemetery’s clown woman, with some stunned witnesses remarking that she occasionally carries a small guitar or ukulele, playing strange songs well into the night….

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