Be on your guard when you visit Newport for here, they say, is the haunt of one of Shropshire’s most feared ghosts. A young lady married Squire Pigott (sometimes rendered as Piggott) of Chetwynd Park, but all he wanted from their union was an heir. Soon after the wedding, the Squire left his bride alone in the vast hall and fled to London, in search of debauchery and fun. Although he would make the occasional visit to Chetwynd (occasional enough for his wife to conceive a baby), Madam Pigott grew lonely and bitter. Pregnancy made her frail and, when the time came to give birth, she suffered terribly.
Madam Pigott was gravely ill when she overheard the doctor in attendance telling Squire Pigott that he could save either his wife or baby, but not both. Without a second’s thought the Squire declared that the doctor should ‘lop the root to save the branch’. Madam Pigott cursed her cold-hearted husband with her dying breath, and she and the baby died together.
After that people claimed to see her weeping ghost stalking through the moonlit garden of the Old Rectory in Chetwynd clutching a tightly swaddled infant. Or sitting on the twisted roots of an old tree, combing her baby’s hair and wailing a grief-stricken wail. Or jumping in the saddle behind riders and trying to drag them from their horses.
Madam Pigott’s spirit was so bothersome that 12 churchmen attempted to lay it to rest by reading psalms. All but one, Mr Foy, gave up. Delirious with tiredness, he finally succeeded in shrinking the spirit, trapping it in a bottle and tossing it into Chetwynd Pool.
There was an interlude of peace until the middle of a freezing winter after Mr Foy had died and a child skating on Chetwynd Pool broke the ice and saw the glass bottle floating just beneath the surface of the water. Madam Pigott’s spirit was released, more furious than ever. The second time it was captured, it was buried in Newport cemetery, beneath the chapel, never to be disturbed again . . . although modern sightings have placed Madam Piggott in the passenger seat of cars on the A41 from Newport to Market Drayton.
Don’t cancel your trip to Newport in fear of Madam Pigott. She didn’t show up at an all-night vigil organised by the West Midlands Ghost Club recently. Even in 1967 the Shropshire Star reporter Wilfred Byford-Jones said in his Severn Valley Stories: ‘I swear no self-respecting ghost, not even Madame Pigot [sic], would haunt Newport today. The town is far too noisy.’
Discover more of Shropshire's history in our Slow Travel guide: