Highgate Chicken Ghost
First frozen chicken
The Highgate Chicken Ghost really must be one of the oddest ghosts to haunt our shores. A phantom frozen chicken! I kid you not. The story is that in early April 1626, during a bitterly cold spring, Sir Francis Bacon was driving through Pond Square in a horse drawn carriage, with his friend Dr. Witherbone. They were discussing alternative methods of food preservation other than salting. Perhaps the fact that the day was so cold made Bacon suggest that maybe refrigeration could be used. Dr. Witherbone laughed at the preposterous idea. Bacon decided to test his theory there and then. There were several farms in Highgate chickens could easily be bought. So one was obtained and when it had been killed and cleaned, he packed it with snow and put it in a large sack with yet more snow around it. The world's first frozen chicken.
Its natural to die...
Whether the experiment was a success or not, alas poor Bacon probably never knew. He caught a chill from running around in the snow and this soon turned to pneumonia. On the 9th April 1626, the man who said, 'It is natural to die as to be born', did just that and is buried in St. Michael's Church, St. Albans. But it is not the ghost of Sir Francis that is to be seen around Pond but that of the Highgate chicken ghost.
Soon after these occurrences took place, there were reports that a semi-plucked chicken had been observed running in circles at the Pond and had also been seen in the lower branches of a nearby tree. When anyone approached, it vanished into thin air.
It would be reasonable to assume that this was some April Fools Day story if the chicken hadn't been seen in more recent times. During the Second World War, Air Raid Wardens often saw the fowl. One of them even tried to capture it. It vanished through a wall before he got anywhere near it. About the same time, someone was in Pond Square when they heard what sounded like an invisible coach and horses. The sound stopped and he saw the chicken, half its feathers gone, running around in circles. He was no more successful than the Air raid warden in getting catching the bird.
The ghost was seen again in January 1969 and in 1970 it quite put the dampers on the romantic embrace a couple where having in a doorway close to the pond.
It seems like the best time to see this particular spectre is in cold weather. So, if you do go looking for it, please wrap up warm. We don't want you catching a chill!
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