I’ve always had a soft spot for the name ‘Nigel’ ever since devouring Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Sir Nigel’ and ‘The White Company’ as a child. (For those with time on the hands worth reading.) You can therefore imagine my shock and distress to find out that last year, no ‘Nigel’ was born and named as such in the UK. Nigel is going the way of the Dodo and the Great Auk.
Now, some great soul is doing something about it. The landlord of ‘The Fleece’ in the small village of Bretforton is organising a convention of Nigels. Nigellas, too, will be welcome. The question is whether it will be in the vein of a Viking funeral or a celebratory kindling of a great new fire giving birth to a phoenix called Nigel.
Which one looks the more ghostly?
Looking less haunted, though note the ice cream
If I was called Nigel, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d be there. But I’m not. I’m called Michael. So it’s a damn lucky thing I was there last weekend and enjoyed a pint of Wye Valley Ale and a large pork chop from the similarly endangered breed of ‘Old Spot’.
For anyone else, not blessed or cursed with the name of Nigel, Bretforton is well worth visiting, the Fleece even more so.
The earliest mention of Bretforton is recorded in 709 A D so it’s old enough to be haunted by a variety of ghosts. There’s Lola Taplin, a former landlady, who haunts the Fleece and throws glasses and food about. To my profound disappointment nothing happened as I tucked into my ‘Old Spot.’
Then there’s the C17th cattle driver, the non porcine Spot Loggins, who drowned and now haunts Spot Loggins Well in Bretforton House Farm.
It is said that anyone who runs around the Well three times blindfolded will lose everything they’re carrying. Try that in some parts of Liverpool and the result will be guaranteed.
I love lists like these. Who for example was Aluered?
The village seen from the church graveyard, the dead centre of the village (sorry)
The Church, too, has its ghosts in the form of a phantom funeral procession. And tread its surrounding fields with respect. They are haunted by a woman holding her own decapitated head. She was murdered in 1707 and has never got over it.
So, just to end and to all those Nigels out there, enjoy the village, and enjoy your free pint of beer.
I love the roof ornamentation here.
But beware—if you do all eventually die out, Bretforton offers itself as ready-made postmortal home you may never escape from.