Scared to death on Campo Lane

Dr David Clarke who is a leading authority on UFO sightings
Dr David Clarke who is a leading authority on UFO sightings
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“THERE are few people more sceptical of the paranormal than media personnel, although they know it will always make a good story,” claims spookologist Andy Owens in new book, Yorkshire Stories Of The Paranormal.

And he’s absolutely right.

Campo Lane circa 1900

Campo Lane circa 1900

For while The Diary has never yet been told a ghost story he believes, it’s certainly always worth hearing them. If only for a giggle.

It is, thus, in that spirit - and to celebrate Fright Night on Sunday and Halloween on Monday - here presented are trio of South Yorkshire’s most intriguing tales of the unexplained.

Is our region a hotbed of the paranormal? Are the explanations supernatural? Do people simply have over-active imaginations?

Read on and decide...

THE background: There are certain irrefutable facts about the death of Sheffield Mormon Hannah Rallison, in Campo Lane, in 1855.

She collapsed in front of several people after entering a cellar said to be haunted. She claimed, as she drifted in and out of consciousness, she had seen a ghost. And experts at an inquest could not find a rational explanation for the healthy 48-year-old’s sudden demise.

“This is one of the most fascinating mysteries I’ve come across,” says David Clarke, former Star journalist, author and all-round expert in the unexplained.

“What’s intriguing is that, unlike many of these stories, it is all documented in newspaper reports and the inquest - but still no-one really knows what happened.”

What we do know is that the Campo Lane cellar - below the home of fellow Mormon John Favell - was said to be haunted after John himself claimed he spotted an old woman there.

As neighbours gathered to investigate on February 24, Hannah temporarily entered the cellar alone. There, in front of several witnesses, she was seized by terror, shrieked she had seen a ghost and collapsed. She died in her South Street home the next day.

“This was all recorded as fact,” says David who has researched the incident for an up coming book on Victorian mysteries. “It fascinated so many people it actually ended up being reported in several national newspapers.”

The rationale: Research by David shows that within a couple of weeks The Sheffield Independent claimed to have found an explanation.

“We have been informed,” it said, “that some of the alleged appearances resulted from the operations of a magic lantern by the occupiers of adjacent premises, who knew that Favell and his family were Mormonites, and determined to have a lark at their expense.”

David asks anyone with possible information about Hannah Rallison or the Favells to email