For the past ten years or so I, along with my colleague Stuart Orme, have been leading Ghost Walks around Peterborough. We do these all year round – most times it’s Stu but I have done three figures worth as well. Over the nights up to and on Hallowe’en we are both at it. Stu starts at 19.30; I begin my stroll at 20.00. All the stories we tell are stories of events that have been experienced and recorded within living memory or are embedded in the records of the long history of our city.
Back in 2012 Stuart had his book ‘Haunted Peterborough’ published by The History Press. You can acquire it in many ways via the Internet – its ISBN number is 978 0 7524 7654 4.
In the meantime – between now and the great day of 31st October 2015 – I’ll tell you a few of our ghostly stories. There’ll be at least one story a day until November arrives – and some of them are not in the book! The most often question I’m asked is ‘Have you seen a ghost?’ I’m afraid that my answer has always been ‘No’. However, ask me if anyone on one of my tours has seen one I would have to say ‘So they say; lots of them say they have.’ Taking that one step further – this is the story of one event where someone most certainly saw something while I was leading a tour in the Cathedral precincts. Let me set the scene:
It was around half past eight on lovely summer evening in August; there were around 15 on the tour and we were gathering on the north side of the cathedral. I had my back to the cathedral and had started to talk about the graveyard and how it had been the monk’s burial place before Peterborough had started to expand and it had become the town burial place. I pointed to my right to show where the monks’ burial place had moved to – and all eyes turned that way and then turned back to me. All, that is, except one lady – she continued to look to her left; toward the Monk’s graveyard.
She turned to me – ‘Where’s he going?’ she asked.
‘Where’s who going?’ was all I could say.
‘Him; that Monk …’ and with that she started to run up the path. One, her friend, followed her; the rest of us just stood where we were and looked at each other in bewilderment. ‘Did you see anything?’ I asked the group. The response was negative from them all.
We talked and waited for a few minutes until the two ladies returned. It took a while to get things back to normal as she told us what she had seen. She described a shortish man, dressed in a long black gown and carrying a book which he appeared to have been reading, walking from the Cathedral side across the grass towards what is now the Dean’s garden. He had vanished by the time she had got there.
We all went up to look. There was nothing for us to see but, in monastic times that garden would have been the Prior’s, and the place the monk had appeared to have come from was the Lady Chapel. That was complete by the end of the 13th century and pulled down and sold in the time of the Civil War. There would have been a path between the two places. Did she see the Prior going back after an evening service? We can only guess.
Still to come are stories of: Trouble around Christmas; A man and the shop he couldn’t leave; A video on Bridge Street; The cat in a tunnel; Two ladies in white; A dog by the railway; Some wine that moved; A toilet seat moved – and who knows how many more might come to mind! Just keep watching.
PS: It’s unlikely that any of these stories will be told over our Hallowe’en tours this year!