On November 19, 1995, photographer Tony O’Rahilly snapped this shot as Wem Town Hall, Shropshire, England, was burning. No one had seen what appears to be a small girl in a doorway. According to the story, the apparition may be the spirit of Jane Churm who died in another fire in the town hall in 1677. – Paranormal.about.com
We’ve all seen this infamous photograph. Most of us believed it to be an extraordinary case of pareidolia, you know…trick of light and shadows from the fire, but a recent discovery by ShropShireStar reader, Brian Lear, might bring closure to this mystery once and for all.
Mr. Lear was digging through the Shropshire’s ‘Pictures From The Past’ section and stumbled upon an old postcard from 1922 Wem. While studying the buildings, cars and people, he noticed a little girl on the left hand corner. Something seemed familiar about her.
“I was intrigued to find that she bore a striking likeness to the little girl featured as the ‘Wem ghost,’” [Brian Lear] said.
By Toby Neal – ShropShireStar
One of Shropshire’s most sensational mysteries – the spooky riddle of “The Wem ghost” – may at last have been solved by eagle-eyed Shropshire Star reader Brian Lear.
Brian spotted an eerie similarity between a girl standing in the street in a 1922 photo of Wem and the young girl whose fuzzy image was famously captured amid the flames as Wem Town Hall burned down in 1995.
That photograph taken by local amateur photographer Tony O’Rahilly created international headlines and sparked the legend of “The Wem Ghost”.
There was speculation that the girl was 14-year-old Jane Churm, who accidentally started the disastrous great fire of Wem in 1677 and was reputed to be haunting the town hall.
Wem folk enthusiastically embraced the story which put their town under the spotlight. A sign on the outskirts had a makeshift alteration to read “Ghost Town”, experts in paranormal activity visited, and there was even a scroll and a plaque to mark where the ghost was spotted.
But when Brian, from Shrewsbury, looked at a photo of Wem — a postcard franked in 1922 — in our Pictures From The Past slot the other day, his eye was drawn to a little girl standing in a doorway.
“I was intrigued to find that she bore a striking likeness to the little girl featured as the ‘Wem ghost,’” he said.
“Her dress and headgear appear to be identical.”
So we have blown up detail from that picture to compare with the “Wem ghost.” And, by jove, he’s right!
Look at the pictures and make your own minds up.
Photographer Tony O’Rahilly, who died in 2005, said at the time that he had discovered the ghost image when developing his snaps of the town hall fire.
Some time later the photo was examined by experts from the National Museum of Photography, who concluded it was a fake. But others were certain it was genuine.
I’ve always held this photograph to higher standards than a lot of the other famous ghostly photographs. I assumed that if it was just the effects of pareidolia, then these were really tricky. Or if this was an actual ghost photo, then it was really creepy. Rhyming not intended.
When I read the ShropShire article this morning, I really have to believe that the mystery is closer to being solved. At least in identifying the ghost girl in the 1995 image. Regardless, I think that the similarities between both of the 1922 and the 1995 girls are striking. Even down to the hat and and ribbon. What do you guys think of this?
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