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The Ghost of Captain Bound

Upton on Severn is a beautiful small town set around the banks of the Severn in Worcestershire. Over the centuries it has seen it's fair share of history from the Norman conquest through medieval power struggles to the Civil War, and it comes as no surprise that the town is also the source of some darker chronicles of the supernatural too.

Captain Thomas Bound was a prominent citizen of Upton during the 1600s, fighting in Cromwell's Parliamentarian army and this service saw him held in some esteem by the town. Paradoxically, he gained a terrible reputation as “a desperately wicked man, very cruel and covetous” who married three wives in short succession, the first two both strongly suspected as being killed by Bound. He moved between Soleys Orchard and Southend Farm, the latter said to be gained by forcing the quivering hand of it's dying old owner to sign it over to him. He lashed servants and swindled tradesmen. Boundary stones were a common method of marking the extent of an individual's lands and were often held in the same esteem as the similar megaliths were to our neolithic ancestors. To move them for one's own gain was seen as a great wrong. The Captain, unsurprisingly, moved several of them to expand his estate and one or two of them survive today, strangely painted red.

Whether through remorse at his wicked life or to escape some kind of retribution, Bound drowned himself in a pool near his Southend property in 1667. The very same day a black draped phantom funeral cortege was reported as leaving the church. Within a couple of weeks the Captain himself was seen skulking along a causeway which connected his Southend Farm with the pool he drowned in. His shade became bolder, dragging a land measuring chain along as he strode back and forth, then sitting on one of the violated boundary stones. Men fishing early mornings along the Severn would scramble up the banks in terror as he appeared suddenly there, grinning and pointing.

An attempt was immediately made to lay the ghost as fear of him had made the causeway and the area around his former homes a virtual no go zone. The vicar set out to trap the phantom captain beneath a huge stone on the causeway by making his incantations then throwing a lighted candle into the pond, ordering Bound to remain there until the candle should be lit again. This only made things worse, as within days the ghost was back and now riding a phantom horse. Even worse, apparitions of his dead wives were now seen wandering Soleys Orchard. As demands grew for something to be done about the spectral captain three parsons were sent this time to put an end to the haunting. They assembled in the cellar of the house at Soleys Orchard and marked out a circle of protection. Their exorcism seemed to be working, as crashes and moans were heard and a wind blasted through the dark room. One parson accidentally placed his foot outside the circle and was rewarded for his mistake by some object striking him hard on his face. When the chaos had settled and the litany completed, it appeared that their work was done. The ghost of Captain Bound walked no more.

The cellar was bricked up immediately and things got back to normal. However, decades later a team of workmen were knocking a wall through in the church and discovered two tombs hitherto unknown. One was a knight whose name was unknown in the town's records, but the other was marked as one Thomas Bound! It is not known what happened to most of his remains but his skull was taken and bought by a local merchant and kept on display in his house. It was then sold again and actually made into a drinking cup. Where this macabre chalice is now, nobody knows. As late as the outbreak of the second world war sightings were still talked about, either of Captain Bound galloping along the land from his old house or sitting on the huge stone the parson had hoped to banish him under, leering and swinging his boundary chain. Soleys Orchard still stands, albeit much modernised, and Ham meadow is little changed since Bound's day, with a couple of the disputed boundary stones still in place but now bizarrely painted blood red. A fitting memorial, perhaps, for Upton on Severn's most infamous son.

Solley's Orchard - once the home of Captain Bound

Solley's Orchard, where the ghost of Captain Bound was exorcised - unsuccessfully

The lane down to the river where Captain Bound is said to ride

The banks of the Severn where Captain Bound has terrified early morning anglers

An old impression of the ghost of Captain Bound

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