The drummer of Tidworth
Poltergeist activity, which involves objects being moved around a room, doors suddenly opening and closing, etc, is a form of psychokinesis, which means the use of the mind to control matter. It used to be thought that evil spirits were responsible for such events, and these were often the ghosts of dead people who wanted to vent their anger on the people they had left behind. However, many psychic researchers now take the view that psychokinesis is just as likely to be the result of a living mind making strange things happen, quite possibly without the agent’s knowledge.
One example of a poltergeist created by a living person was the “drummer of Tidworth”. The story dates from 1661 when King Charles II was on the throne and belief in witchcraft was extremely strong, especially in rural areas.
The mysterious drummer
The drummer, whose name has been lost from the historical record, lived in the village of Ludgershall in Wiltshire. He practised his drum at all hours of the day and night and, not surprisingly, caused a great deal of unhappiness among his neighbours. He was arrested by John Mompesson, who lived in the nearby village of Tidworth, who also confiscated the drum.
However, this did not stop the drum from playing! Not only that, but drumming was heard to come from all over Mompesson’s house, inside and out. Other strange things happened, including objects being thrown around, candles floating across rooms, chamber pots being emptied on to beds, voices and footsteps being heard and the children of the family being levitated above their beds at night.
These phenomena went on for two years, giving Mompesson and his family no peace at all.
However, when the drummer was arrested for theft and sent away to Gloucester jail, the drumming, and the accompanying events, came to a halt. While he was in jail he claimed that he had caused all the problems for John Mompesson, which was a foolish thing to do because he was then put on trial for witchcraft. Despite being found guilty his punishment was relatively mild, namely to be exiled from his home area.
Many years later the drummer was released from his sentence and allowed to return to Ludgershall, although he did not settle there. The poltergeist activity started up again whenever the drummer was in the area but disappeared when he was not.
Although the drummer said that he was responsible for the happenings in the Mompesson house, there is no evidence to suggest that he was directing what went on. If the psychic researchers are to be believed, it only took the drummer’s presence, together with his abiding anger, to make everything kick off at the house in Tidworth.