The church bells toll, echoing along the near-empty streets, the sun has long since set. And suddenly there she is. A woman in white, her pale form glowing in the dark.
If you’ve been to the city of Fredericton you may have had the opportunity to hear the story of Mrs. Medley and the haunted cathedral.
Nestled downtown on Church and Brunswick Street is the Christ Church Cathedral, home to the ghost of Margaret Medley.
As the tale goes the ghost glides down Church Street and crosses the lawn of the cathedral to enter through the West door of the church. When the ghostly apparition appears the smell of food is said to linger in the air, when none can be found. Others say organ music can be heard coming from within the church late at night.
The story tells of Mrs. Medley bringing her husband, Reverend John Medley, his supper as he works into the late hours of the night.
Hank Williams, Verger of the cathedral, has had his own dealing with the benevolent spectre.
“In the past six years, there has been at least two times, when I have been in there and all I could smell was tomato soup, very strong odor of tomato soup, so I have very strong respect for that story. I’m not certain I believe it or not, but there are times when I’m closing at night, and have to go out the West door, I’ll be honest with you, even at 67 years old, I don’t look back,” Williams shares.
But this isn’t the only occurrence Williams has experienced in his time at the cathedral.
“A teenage girl supposedly saw Mrs. Medley’s ghost and it scared her so, that she refused to ever come back to the church. The other was a lady cleaning up after communion, it fell to her to down the
rest of the consecrated wine and while she was doing this supposedly Mrs. Medley’s ghost came up out of the floor and walked out the door without opening it. So we do wonder just what spirits we are talking about,” Williams said.
With most ghost stories you hear tales of betrayal, heartbreak, and anger. This isn’t the case with Mrs. Medley. She was said to be a kind and gracious woman, she had a happy marriage, did an abundance of charity work, one such instance is St. Margaret’s Sunday school. She was declared a renowned nurse in her time, rumored to serve under Florence Nightingale herself. Still, her spirit is said to linger on.
Not everyone is so ready to believe the spooky tale. Dean of the Diocese, Geoffrey Hall, puts no faith in the telling of tall tales such as ghost stories.
“The world is a lot bigger than I what I know. And there’s always a possibility that there’s something I don’t. I have never seen anything that would lead me to believe conclusively I have experienced a ghost. I think often our minds play tricks on us and we try to find explanations for things we can’t explain,” Hall says.
As her spirit supposedly flits around the cathedral, her body is buried outside with her husband’s since her death in 1905. Her only crime is scaring those that catch a glimpse of her silly. Or is it?
Not quite as innocent as she seems to be, Margaret Medley is the second wife of the Bishop Medley, she served as nurse to the first at the time of her death. Soon after the death of the previous Mrs. Medley, Christiana Bacon, she married the Bishop Medley and moved to Fredericton. It begs the question whether the previous woman fell to harm at the hands of her young nurse.
Whether the ghost of Mrs. Medley is real or not remains to be seen. The more brave of heart may take a trip downtown and visit the Christ Church Cathedral to see for themselves. If they dare.