Parson John Gamage was appointed as Rector of St Edmunds in Sedgefield back in the 1730s and took up residence in the nearby Rectory where he lived with his family.
During this time, taxes were collected by the all powerful church under the watch of Prince Bishop Edward Chandler. The church would take one tenth of a crop or herd of animals in the form of a tithe from those living within the county.
The 20th December was rapidly approaching, that was tithe day when the taxes fell due, but shortly before that day Gamage died suddenly. Now her husband was dead, Mrs Gamage feared her family would starve without the tithes being paid by the locals. She came up with a cunning plan to use brandy to preserve the Parson’s body and would prop him up in his chair in the window of the Rectory. Passers-by could see him and on tithe day, parishioners visited the Rectory and paid their dues over to Mrs Gamage without anyone realising the deception.
The next day, when all the tithes had been gathered, Mrs Gamage let it be known that her husband had died suddenly and a doctor was summoned. The doctor issued a death certificate and the Parson’s death was entered into the register of deaths.
Mrs Gamage however, had not taken her deceased husband’s emotions and values in account. The Rectory suddenly started to experience ghostly shenanigans and the spirit of the dead Parson would be spotted on numerous occasions both at the Rectory and within the grounds of St Edmunds Church.
This continued for the next fifty years or so, until a great fire brought the razed the Rectory to the ground. However, if you visit the area on a dark winter night, perhaps you will catch a glimpse of Gamage’s ghost, the Pickled Parson.