Hugh Beavin

The Bleeding Tombstone

Every April a strange phenomenen occurs in St Mary's churchyard that has its roots in a grisly event that took place in the early 18th century.

For on 12th April 1727 a young local saddler called Richard Smith joined a crowd in the Market Place that was thronging a recruiting sergeant.

The sergeant was an ugly man who was shouting, swearing and threatening the frightened crowd with stories of bloodshed that might happen in Hinckley if the Papists came.

Richard joined in the shouting, claiming that not all Catholics were bad men, but the sergeant was having none of it. He rounded on Richard telling him:

"You ought to be defending your king, country and religion. You should be proud to fight for King George. Why, even your public house is called The George so that people might drink his health."

"Oh no," Richard shouted back, "it's called The George after St George who slew the dragon."

This was too much for the sergeant. Lowering his halberd (a combined spear and battle axe) he charged straight at Richard, who was leaning against a tree. The spike went right through Richard, killing him and pinning him to the tree.

The local inhabitants were outraged by the killing and arranged for the following inscription on his tombstone in St Mary's:

"A fatal halbred then his body slew, The murdering hand God's vengeance will pursue, From earthly shades though Justice took her flight, Shall not the Judge of all the world do right, Each age and sex his innocence bemoans, And with sad sighs lament his dying groans."

And in April every year strange red drops of moisture appear on the stone and trickle down over the inscription as if crying tears of blood for poor Richard.

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley-on-line