THIS WEDNESDAY people all over the country will participate in Hallowe’en, one of our oldest festivals, the origins of which date back to Celtic times when the year was divided into two seasons: Beltane, the season of life and growth, and Samhain, the season of death and decay.
For the ancient Celts the New Year began on November 1, which was also the first day of Samhain, and they believed that during the hours of darkness on this day our world and that of the spirits came together enabling the dead to return.
Feasts would be held and a place set at the table for the returning dead while precautions would be taken such as wearing disguises or carving spirit guardians out of turnips, to ward off evil spirits.
Later, attempting to absorb native beliefs into its own religion, the Christian Church declared November 1 “All Hallows,” or “All Saints” day. The night before, therefore, became “All Hallows-even” or, as we know it today, Hallowe’en.
On Wednesday adults and children will attempt to scare the living daylights out of each other with ghost stories; but which are the most haunted locations and where are the top 10 places where ghosts have been captured on camera?
1 THE BROWN LADY OF RAYNHAM HALL
Raynham Hall, in Norfolk, is the family seat of the Marquesses of Townshend. It is also the home of the spectral brown lady, reputedly the ghost of Dorothy Walpole. She was the second wife of Lord Charles Townshend who, on discovering that she had been the mistress of Lord Wharton, kept her locked away at Raynham Hall until her death in 1726. Her ghost has roamed the house ever since and her image was captured on camera descending the hall’s grand staircase on September 19 1936.
2 THE GHOST OF ST BOTOLPH’S
|Look to the upper right balcony|
|The figure can be seen to the right of the pillar|
A similarly mysterious figure was photographed in St Botolph’s Church on Bishopsgate in London by Chris Brackley while taking test shots for a wedding one Saturday in 1982. Only he and his wife were present at the time yet on the developed print the figure of a woman wearing old-fashioned clothes had appeared on the balcony to the right of the altar.
3 LORD COMBERMERE IN SHROPSHIRE
In 1891 while visiting her sister, the then Lady Combermere, at Combermere Abbey in Shropshire, Sybell Corbett took a photograph of the house’s library. The plate showed the faint image of a man, later identified as Lord Combermere, sitting in his Lordship’s favourite chair. The problem was that her brother-in-law had died five days before.
4 THE GHOSTS OF BELGRAVE HALL
The 18th-century Belgrave Hall, in Leicestershire, hit the headlines in 1991 when at 4.50am one day the security cameras picked up two ghostly figures, one of which appeared to be wearing a long Victorian dress. Whoever they were they joined a growing assortment of phantom residents that include a spectral lady in red and the ghostly aroma of cooking which drifts from kitchens that have not been used for years.
5 THE BLACK ABBOTT OF PRESTBURY
Prestbury, Gloucestershire, is one of England’s most haunted villages. Its most famous ghost is that of the Black Abbot who is said to appear on Christmas, Easter and All Souls’ days. However, breaking with tradition, the Abbot’s ghostly silhouette appeared on a photograph of the village’s floodlit St Mary’s churchyard, taken by Derek Stafford on November 22, 1990.
6 GHOSTS AT THE TOP TABLE
Coventry’s Guildhall has long had a spooky reputation but nobody thought to invite any of the ghosts to the Freemans’ Guild dinner, held on January 22, 1985. Nonetheless, one of them decided to take its place at the top table and was clearly visible on a photograph taken at the event, though no one could remember him being there at the time.
7 THE MONK OF MINSDEN
The crumbling remnants of the 14th-century Minsden chapel in Hertfordshire have tottered in ruin since it was abandoned in the mid-17th century. Its isolated location, however, is the perfect setting for the phantom monk who, in 1907, was supposedly caught on film. He is said to appear amid the ruins on Hallowe’en at midnight. His appearances are preceded by the tolling of the chapel’s lost bells and his passage is marked by the eerie sound of plaintive music.
8 THE GIRL IN THE FLAMES (Note from Ed: The photo in question was proven to be a hoax).
On November 19, 1995, Wem town hall in Shropshire caught fire and Tony O’Rahilly raced to the scene to photograph the conflagration. One of his pictures captured the figure of a ghostly girl standing amid the flames. It has been suggested that she might be the ghost of a servant girl who accidentally set light to a thatched roof and caused a fire that devastated the town in 1677.
9 THE GREENWICH GHOST
The Queen’s House is one of Greenwich’s most graceful and historic buildings. In 1966, the Reverend R.W. Hardy photographed its magnificent Tulip staircase. When the film was developed a shrouded figure was visible on one of the photos. Closer inspection revealed that there were, in fact, two figures ascending what had certainly been an empty staircase when the picture was taken. No rational explanation has ever been put forward to explain the presence of the figures.
10 HAMPTON COURT HAUNTINGS
In 2003 security staff at 16th-century Hampton Court Palace heard alarms ringing near an exhibition hall indicating that fire doors had been opened, but found the doors closed. Mystified, they examined CCTV footage and were astonished when the cameras showed the heavy doors opening, apparently of their own volition.
Suddenly, a figure wearing a long coat appeared and proceeded to pull the doors shut. The identity of this figure, which was nicknamed Skeletor, became the subject of intense debate with some even claiming it might be the ghost of one of Hampton Court’s most famous former residents, Henry VIII. Britain has many haunted locations and this Hallowe’en should you find yourself in the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time, you might well manage to capture a ghost on film.
Pictures: Resourced from public domain