The little hamlet of Oddingley was once the scene of murder most foul.
In 1806, the Government was ramping up taxation to cope with economic problems at home and threats from abroad – and the hated tax collector in Oddingley was the vicar, the Reverend George Parker.
On Midsummer Day, when Oddingley was busy with haymaking, a musket shot was heard. Villagers rushed to the spot and found the clergyman sprawled on the grass, his head bludgeoned and his body on fire.
The story made the pages of The Times of London, and Oddingley became a by-word for evil.
The murderer was widely believed to be Richard Heming, a wandering odd-job man who worked for Captain Samuel Evans, the elderly owner of the biggest farm in the village.
After Captain Evans’ death in 1829 his farm was sold and while the new tenant was digging a trench he found a fractured skull and jawbone.
The remains were never formally identified but locals were convinced they were those of Richard Heming, and that he had been bumped off to stop him blabbing.
On the wall of a barn where the remains were discovered are two worn plaques with cryptic writing – one ‘1806 RH 1830’; the other simply ‘RH’.
After heavy rain, ruby red pools form in Oddingley – caused by the colour of the local soil. But some contend it is the blood of the Reverend George Parker.