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Cumbrian Ghost Stories
Cumbrian Ghost Stories
A leading expert in the paranormal, Richard Holland has gathered together some of the scariest stories from around Cumbria.
Paperback; 180 x 110mm
b & w photographs illustrations
Book review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
Cumbrian Ghost Stories by Richard Holland. Bradwell Books. £3.99
One evening in 1818, Lord Grey and his son in law were strolling on the ramparts of Carlisle Castle. "A man approached them, walked past, then approached them again before disappearing over the parapet." The man was a local lawyer, Samuel Romilly, a man they both recognised. Later that night they learnt that the same Samuel Romilly had killed himself by cutting his throat at the very moment his apparent form had disappeared over the parapet.
Fifteen years later, during renovations at the castle the bony body of a woman clad in a rotted plaid and wearing golden rings was found immured in the castle walls. The ghost of this Jacobite prisoner was said to haunt the castle. One night, a sentry on duty faced an advancing figure who refused to halt on his command. She came closer and he lunged at her with his bayonet. "He got a terrible fright when his bayonet passed right through her and she 'seemed to dissolve into the ground'. He collapsed and died a few hours later."
This same ghost may have been confused with the ghost of the pregnant girl walled up in the Captain's Tower by her guilty lover. She, clad all in white, is said to haunt the cold walls of her cruel confinement.
Mary, Queen of Scots, did not die in Carlisle Castle, even though she was a prisoner there. Her ghost is supposed to have been seen in Long Lane as she was escorted from her cell in the castle to divine worship in the Cathedral.
The Cathedral's "best known spook story involves a bishop whose apparition started to 'walk' after his tomb was mucked about with." His sarcophagus and other tombs were moved. His ghost would emerge, stalk and stand and glare at the spot where his tomb once stood. "The authorities took the hint and reinstalled the tombs in their original positions."
Other ghosts may be of more recent origin. In 1966 Mr Don Reid was waiting for a friend in the Citadel Restaurant. "A grey-black shape about 5' 7' tall but with no identifiable facial features walked towards him. A few feet away from him it seemed to disappear as though poured into the ground."
Elsewhere, a strange white mist drifted in and out of the Simply Food and Drinks shop in Botcherby, an icy finger poked the station-manager in the back and a lady in black entered a railway compartment. She had been the bride of a man who had put his head too far out of the carriage window. A wire sliced through his neck and his headless body fell back into the carriage.
Richard Holland says confidently that some of Cumbria's places of "grandeur and romance" are "haunted by more than just the curlew and the buzzard". "Cumbria boasts more than its share of medieval houses, and many of these, too, are haunted." He promises us spooks of murderers and their victims, of soldiers, brides, miners, gypsies, cottagers, lords and numerous ladies in black, white, pink and grey gowns.
There are skulls at Calgarth, a crier at Claife, phantom women at the falls, and a vampire at Croglin. There's bad Lord Lonsdale, Peg Sneddle and her old shepherd, and the lunatic in grey at Lorton Hall.
Presences are everywhere. The energy of past traumas lingers on and the air is full of strange imaginings. We only need the prompting of Richard Holland to make them palpable.
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