I’m really enjoying the renaissance in regional ghost guides, especially those focusing on towns that have never been fully researched before. The latest ghost guide from the History Press is Haunted Weymouth by Alex Woodward. Now how many haunted sites in this Dorset seaside town can you name? I don’t think I could name any: but here is a whole book-full of allegedly spookified locations to consider.
Alex is a resident of Weymouth and gives talks and conducts ghost tours round the town. One or two of the sites she highlights are quite impressive, especially Nothe Fort (which features on the front cover), a monolithic slab of a building, seemingly windowless and coldly intimidating as it dominates the coastline. It has several ghosts and a couple of others in the grounds. While the author was giving a talk on ghosts in a small room at the fort, several visitors felt something invisible touching their back. I wish creepy things like that happened when I gave talks – that’s real value for money!
Nearby Portland Castle is another major haunted location and Weymouth has more than its share of haunted houses and inns and also an extensive and historic shopping centre in an old brewery where a considerable amount of supernatural activity has been reported. As befitting a seaside town, there are one or two stories of phantom ships. Several of the nearby beaches are also haunted.
Alex Woodward widens her scope in Haunted Weymouth to include examples of paranormal phenomena distinct from ghosts. One of my favourite accounts concerns a prehistoric burial mound which is said to ‘pour forth a column of flame that shoots upward with an orange intensity that tears open the night sky’. I’m always attracted to stories regarding ancient sites and this is a location and indeed phenomenon previously unknown to me.
As always, I would have liked to have seen some references, especially for those places that are stated to have had a long history of hauntings, but I accept that much of the material will be word-of-mouth, gathered from friends, neighbours and those who have attended the author’s talks. Alex clearly knows Weymouth and its ghosts intimately and on the whole this is a well-written and attractively illustrated resume of the ghosts of a largely unknown (in paranormal circles) town and those of the neighbouring countryside.
Haunted Weymouth by Alex Woodward is published by the History Press and priced £9.99 (ISBN: 978-0-7524-6046-8).