Lizzie Dean of Chipping

By Chipping’s Sun Inn is attached an information board, upon which is written:

The Story of Elizabeth Dean

In the autumn of 1835, Elizabeth Dean; twenty years old, arrived in the village & took employment as a scullery maid at the Sun inn, working with another maid named Elsie Trainer. Very soon, Lizzie, as she was known, met James Freeman, a local lad & after a short period of courting, he proposed. Lizzie, excited & happy, immediately accepted. They met the vicar at Saint Bartholomew’s Church & arranged a date to get married.

Two days before the wedding, James told Lizzie he had fallen in love with Elsie & called off their wedding day. She was heartbroken but continued to work at the inn with Elsie, who had accepted a marriage proposal from James Freeman.

On the day of the wedding, Lizzie made her way to her room in the attic of the Sun Inn and as the church bells rang celebrating the holy matrimony of Mr & Mrs Freeman, Lizzie, with a rope around her neck & tied to a bedstead, jumped from the open window. Screams caught everyone's attention as Lizzie hung from the attic window. The mood turned from celebration to horror and disbelief. When she was cut down, a note was found clenched in her right hand and read:

'I wish to be buried at the entrance to St. Bartholomew’s, so my lover & my best friend will have to walk past my grave every time they go to church.'

Lizzie got her wish & to this day, her grave is near to the church entrance, under a giant yew tree. James & Elsie moved from the village soon after, settling in Carlisle & never returned to Chipping.

For nearly two hundred years, the ghost of Lizzie Dean has been seen & reported countless times at the Sun Inn by customers & staff.

It does sound a tad fanciful, though I have no doubt that something like it happened. We certainly found the grave under the yew tree, and I found the entry in the Chipping Parish Registers:

Burial: 9 Nov 1835 St Bartholomew, Chipping, Lancs.

Elizabeth Dean -

    Age: 19

    Abode: Chipping

    Buried by: E. Wilkinson, Vicar

I am a little surprised that a scullery maid could afford so decent a gravestone, but then she may have had her sympathisers. James Freeman may have been a bit of a rotter, of course, and we can well understand Lizzie’s broken heart. But to hang herself at the moment of the wedding? And to have herself buried in a place where the young couple would forever be reminded (and probably blamed) for her death? I can only hope that God was more gracious to Lizzie Dean than Lizzie Dean was to James and Elsie Freeman. When one’s identity is utterly bound up in our victimhood, we can forgive no-one. When our identity is utterly bound up in Christ, we can forgive anyone.

And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.

-Matthew 6:12, NKJV