On lunchtime Tuesday 21st in St Johns you could have heard a pin drop at points in Stuart Orme’s excellent lecture on Ghosts of Peterborough. Over 90 people sat enthralled as Stuart told his spooky tales.
He started by describing how the ghost tours have continued whilst the Museum has been closed for redevelopment (re- opening on March 31st). There are two tours, one of the museum itself (the most haunted building in Peterborough) and one of the city’s streets.
Stuart described how when he started there was no book on the stories, so he asked people and went to the archives to find the stories. Stuart also has a book coming out on June 1st on the ghost stories.
Starting as a one off in Halloween 2001, to date 30,000 people have gone on one of the tours, and the number of stories has expanded from 25 originally to hundreds today. He explained how the ghost stories are a route into heritage generally, getting people thinking about history by the back door!
Stuart took the audience through the history of the Museum building, once a private home and infirmary before becoming the cities museum in the 1930’s. Several ghosts are believed to haunt the place, including the lonely Anzac who haunts then stairwell in his grey jacket, the ghost of a little girl in the Geology galleries, a Roman soldier who hangs around his old sword and a spooky shop. A white lady (every haunted house has one, as Stuart joked) wanders through the social history galleries, and a servant girl stomps on the back staircase. The cellars, the oldest part of the building, have everything from tall dark phantoms to ‘little short hairy blokes’ who terrorise visitors and meter readers.
The museum isn’t the only haunted building, the Cathedral and its precincts have a ghostly monk and a stone carver with one candle. Mystery airman stalk the Westwood airfields, a Cavalier lives beneath the Westgate House department store and the Bull hotel even has a ghostly canine apparition.
As Stuart said, Peterborough has an incredible rich history to be proud of, and with this amount of history there are always a few ghosts…