In his introduction to Haunted Peterborough, Stuart Orme makes the valid point that most people’s conception of the city is that it’s a rather brash and modern place, despite its great antiquity. It’s true. I felt the same in my approach to his book despite knowing full well that the Soke of Peterborough is an ancient and historic borough – somehow the place conveys a sense of a ‘new town’, one unlikely to have much in the way of ghosts.
Stuart soon dispels this unreasonable view, however. For one thing there’s the unavoidable presence of its grand medieval cathedral. In fact, as Stuart explains, an ecclesiastical building has been on the site of Peterborough Cathedral since the 7th century. Stuart has done an excellent job of cataloguing the extraordinary number of phantom monks seen in the cathedral or its vicinity. It’s made me reappraise my already rather shaky suggestion of the Top 50 Most Haunted Places in Britain chart (see www.uncannyuk.com) – I believe Peterborough must have more ghosts than Westminster Abbey.
Another magnificently haunted building is the city’s museum, a building dating back to the 16th century. Its numerous ghosts are not the usual vague noises/things being moved type spooks typical of municipal buildings (although there’s some of that, too) but apparitions which include a ‘Grey Man’, a ‘Dark Man’, a First World War soldier, a little girl, a servant girl, a doctor and a White Lady. Stuart has worked in the museum, so knows the place intimately and has had one or two eerie experiences of his own there.
It’s pretty clear that the author knows the whole of Peterborough and its environs intimately, as well as its ghosts (Stuart conducts ghost walks round the city). Haunted Peterborough features a good many interesting and not terribly well-known haunted locations which include railway stations, airfields and country lanes as well as the more usual pubs and private homes. I really enjoyed Haunted Peterborough. It’s particularly well written, the research is excellent and includes first-person testimony as well as library work and there’s little in the way of testimony from mediums which for me never conveys the same interest as the experiences of ‘ordinary’ people. And there’s an index – a further indication of the care with which Stuart Orme has compiled this excellent collection.
Haunted Peterborough by Stuart Orme is published by the History Press and priced £9.99 (ISBN: 978-0-7524-7654-4).