Mansfield ghost legend Bessie on folk music DVD by Sutton band

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The legend about the ghost of a young girl murdered by a 19th century vagabond has been turned into an atmospheric musical DVD by a Sutton folk band.

Indie folk musician Paul Hallam and his band Shanks’ Pony have written a murder ballad recounting the haunting tale of 17-year-old Bessie Shepherd.

Paul, 50 said the story of Papplewick girl Bessie who was clubbed to death by Charles Rotherham in 1817 has been stuck in his imagination for years.

He wrote a six verse ballad “The Slaying of Bessie Shepherd”, which has been turned into a DVD thanks to the help of his band and local actors and director Colin Chapman.

Said Paul: “Bessie Shepherd left her home in Papplewick on a July morning to walk to Mansfield for an interview for a servant job. She had to walk back through Harlow Wood and Thieves Wood on the road between Nottingham and Mansfield, a dirt track notorious for people being robbed.

On her way she stumbled upon Charles Rotherham from Sheffield who had been asleep in a hedge. He launched an horrific attack, killing her and leaving her body. He took her shoes and brolly and made his way to Nottingham.

“Bessie’s mother raised the alarm and Bessie was found. Rotherham was eventually caught and he was hanged for the murder.

“He cut a tragic figure as he had become a wanderer after returning home after serving his country in the Napoleonic Wars. A stone memorial was made for Bessie, which is still there near where she died. Her ghost is said to appear there at certain times.”

On the DVD, there is an ethereal performance of Bessie by Olivia Walters, a friend of the band. The DVD, is £3.50 is available on the Shanks’ Pony Facebook site. It was filmed in Harlow Wood and the Canarvon Arms, Teversal.