One of the most appealing things about Britain’s ancient cities is the wealth of stories that accumulate over the years, particularly tales of the strange and startling. Ghost tours are big business in several cities across the country, and are also a pretty good way of keeping journeyman actors in a job. If you’re taking your holidays domestic-style this year and are looking for a slightly off-beat way to spend a dark and stormy night, this could be just the shiver your spine’s been asking for.
Unbelievably, there is an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for England’s most haunted village, and the current holder is the settlement of Pluckley in Kent, which incidentally was the location for the 1990s TV series The Darling Buds of May. There are twelve officially recognised ghosts in the town, though locals put the number closer to sixteen. The centre of the paranormal activity is St Nicholas Church, where the ‘Red Lady’ mourns the loss of her child in the churchyard, which also boasts a ‘White Lady’, who walks only in autumn, holding the red rose she was buried with. There is also a ghost dog.
Ghosts in Auld Reekie
Edinburgh has a famously gruesome past, and the misadventures of Messrs Burke and Hare and Deacon Brodie have been immortalised by the city’s flourishing and professional ghost tour industry. There are a couple of tour guide companies in operation in the city, who work mostly on the Royal Mile, where most nights of the year an ostentatiously spooky figure (usually in black) can take you deep into the bowels of the city, through the wynds, closes and vaults of the Old Town where all manner of ghastliness took place over the years. If you’re too easily unsettled by these things, you can also take a History tour, where a very well-informed chap in much less flamboyant garb can tell you about the experiences of the living residents of the underground city and leave the supernatural safely in your imagination.
York’s Spooky Past
The city of York has been part of the landscape so long the ghosts barely have room to breathe, if breathing was something they were still concerned about. Famously home to invaders both of Viking and Roman origin, there are plenty of stories about how the previous owners remain somewhat reluctant to hand over their home to the current residents. One pub owner reported seeing an entire cohort of Roman soldiers marching through his basement – a small archaeological investigation discovered the remains of a Roman road passing underneath the building. Most hotels in York have some ghostly connections in their history, and the York Ghost Walk that explores the gnarled alleys and twisted byways of the oldest part of town will reveal all.
Ghosts of London
Not to be outdone, London has probably more ghost stories in its sprawling streets than any other city on earth. The Big Smoke traces its tales back through Sweeney Todd, the Black Plague, the Great Fire, Jack the Ripper and the spirits of executed heretics of the sixteenth century, none of whom seem all that content in the afterlife. Book a high-spirited tour through the London Dungeons to see the horrible side of the capital’s history.
Dare you miss out? Whatever your supernatural predilection, there’s somewhere in the UK for you.
Catherine Halsey is based in Edinburgh and writes for a digital marketing company. This article links back to http://www.premierinn.com/en/budget-hotels-in-york.html.