The Packman

Photo:Death and the Packman

Death and the Packman

Hang on, mate, I've a few more deliveries to make yet...

A sad wayside grave

By R B Parish

Where three roads meet between Winkburn and Hockerton is a wayside grave called the Packman’s grave. Who was the packman? History will probably never tell us, but the story of his demise is curious one.

A curious murder

It is said that the son of a local gamekeeper, called Standley who worked for ‘Squire’ Pegg of Winkburn, was responsible. He is said to have hit him with a blow to the head and hid his body, interred in a wood nearby. No reasons were given and nothing more was to be heard of the packman.

Revealed in a dream

However, the packman’s father had a dream and this revealed the body of his son. Suspicion was aroused when Standley sold some cloth which obviously belonged to the packman. He was arrested and confessed. However, rather than see justice he hung himself in his cell.

A cross roads burial

The body of the Packman was reburied at the three lanes but no monument remains there to indicate it and slowly the story has disappeared from local knowledge. The custom of burying bodies at such places probably dates back to Anglo Saxon times and perhaps was seen as a metaphor for life-changing decisions. Such crossroads, often on parish boundaries, would also be the place to bury outsiders. It is thought that the cross road would confuse the tormented soul preventing them from finding their way back and tormenting the living. How old the Packman’s grave is unclear, but it probably dates back to before the Act of Parliament abolished the practice for good in 1823.

The author is research folklore and customs any correspondence on this matter is welcome


This page was added by R B Parish on 20/03/2013.

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