In the quaint village of Chipping, nestled in the heart of Lancashire, there once lived a young woman named Elizabeth Dean, affectionately known as ‘Lizzie Dean’. She was a delicate flower, the kind that could brighten even the gloomiest of days with her radiant smile.
Her’s was a love story that was the talk of the village, and everyone eagerly anticipated the day she would be married to a man she had trusted with her life, and Lizzie’s dreams were often filled with visions of a blissful life with her beloved.
However, her story would also tell of how her groom had secretly been courting one of Lizzie’s friends, and that he had been ‘pranking’ poor Lizzie by leading her on all the time during their liaisons together.
On the morning of her wedding, Thursday, 5th November 1835, Lizzie awoke in her room in the home of her parents’ house, full of excitement and nerves as to what the day had in store.
For quite some time, she had been receiving the attention of the young man called James Freeman, and from all accounts they had fallen madly in love, and up to Sunday, 1st November, Lizzie had no cause to doubt her lovers feelings towards her, and he had visited her on that same day.
However, on Thursday, 5th November, her dreams would be broken as church bells were heard just opposite from where she had lived. Peering from a window, Lizzie was see her beloved pass vows of love and fidelity to another woman, rumoured to have been one of Lizzie’s friends, Elsie Trainer.
With her heart now shattered into a million pieces, she beheld a heart-wrenching sight. There, leaving the church with another bride on his arm, was the man who had promised her forever. Her groom, the betrayer of her dreams, had found solace in another woman’s arms. The pain was unbearable, and the world around her faded into a blur of tears.
Just after 2.00pm, overwhelmed by grief and humiliation, Lizzie Dean retreated to the attic of what is now called the ‘Sun Inn’, a 17th century public house. Whether or not this was the place she had lived with her parents is not known, but the story tells how it was there, in that dimly lit space, that she decided to end her own suffering. She found a sturdy rope, fashioned it into a noose, and with trembling hands, she hanged herself from the rafters.
When her lifeless body was discovered, she clutched a poignant suicide note in her cold, lifeless hand.
Stories about what was written on this note seem to have been embellished over the years, and people only talk about how she had pleaded that her body to be “..buried at the entrance to the church so my lover and my best friend will always have to walk past my grave every time they go to church.”
In fact, the note Lizzie had written had simply asked for a song to be sang during her funeral – that of the 109th Psalm. However, during her interment, the clergyman forbid the singing of that psalm within the church, such was the tone of language used.
Fortunately, Lizzie’s plea would still be answered by the neighbouring choir which had assembled, and they would sing the psalm at the precincts of the churchyard.
As for stories of asking to be buried at the entrance to the church, no one knows the truth to this. It seems to be a story that has simply grown over time.
Instead, Lizzie was laid to rest in the South-East corner of St Bartholomew’s Church, far from the entrance and far from the love she had lost.
The enquiry into Lizzie’s death took place on Saturday, November 14th, before coroner, John Hargreaves, Esq. and it was said that Lizzie was a young woman aged nineteen, and that she came from a respectable family.
Proceedings would only last a matter of minutes, and a verdict of ‘lunacy’ would be given.
As for the embellished tales of Elizabeth Dean, press reports at the time would pretty much say that many rumours had been swirling as to why Lizzie had taken her own life, reporting that; “rumour, with her ten thousand tongues, would have enabled us to minister more largely to the (perhaps we should prefix, morbid) sensibilities of our readers, but we have rather preferred a matter-of-fact, than a highly-wrought illustrated account of the distressing event ; for as we cannot advantage the cause of the dead, so neither would we prejudice that of the living party to this most melancholy tragedy.”
The story also goes on to say that James Freeman and his new bride, Elsie, moved to Carlisle and never set foot again in Chipping, making this story even more the sadder if it is true that young Lizzie had written in her suicide note that she was to be buried at the front of the church.
Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise;
For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.
For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.
When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.
Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.
As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.
As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.
Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.
Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord, and of them that speak evil against my soul.
But do thou for me, O God the Lord, for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.
My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.
I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.
Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it.
Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.
Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.
I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.
For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.
The tragic tale of Elizabeth Dean, or Lizzie Dean as she was fondly known, serves as a somber reminder of the depths of human cruelty and the enduring pain of lost love, echoing through the corridors of time in the village of Chipping, Lancashire.
Legend also has it that her restless spirit still haunts the Sun Inn, forever seeking solace for the pain that tore her apart. Her presence is felt in the creaking of floorboards and the flickering of candles. Some say that on quiet, moonlit nights, you can hear her gentle weeping echoing through the attic where she took her own life.