Something spooky…

It’s Halloween so I couldn’t resist a ghost hunt in my local area. Here are some of my favourite haunted places

Virginia Water Lake

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In the 19th century a barrister called Mr Butler who was staying at the Wheatsheaf Inn by the lake was startled to see a face peering in at the window. The anxious figure looked remarkably like a friend he hadn’t seen for years.

But when he mentioned this to the landlord he was told he couldn’t have seen anyone. The window looked onto a locked courtyard. Feeling unwell, the man went for a walk along the lake to clear his head. But as he stared out across the dark water he experienced a terrifying vision.

The water gathered itself up into a tunnel and as he stood watching a train came rushing through the tunnel towards him with its lights blazing. In one of the carriages he saw a man with his hands around another man’s throat forcing him towards the window. The victim was pushing back with all his strength but the door of the carriage burst open and he fell to the ground landing at the feet of Mr Butler.

Mr Butler bent over to examine the body. He immediately recognised the face – it was the man who had been staring at him through the window of the inn. He staggered back to the hotel and convinced he must be ill he left and returned to London.

A couple of days later in London Mr Butler ran into the brother of his old friend. He had just received some terrible news – a telegram had arrived from India telling him that his brother had died after falling from a train.

 

The Ostrich Inn

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People staying at the Ostrich Inn in Colnbrook have reported sudden drops in temperature, strange noises and moving objects. Could the inn’s dark history have something to do with these? The Ostrich used to be known as the Hospice and its 17th century landlord was the notorious Mr Jarman.

Mr Jarman installed a trap door in the bedroom immediately above the kitchen. He fixed a bed to the door so that he could kill wealthy guests while they slept. The trap door would open, the bed would tip up and they would be sent down through the trapdoor to the cauldron in the kitchen below. He and his wife were eventually hanged for the murders of at least 60 guests.

 

Windsor Castle

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There are so many ghosts at the castle it’s surprising the Queen gets any sleep…

The angry figure of Henry VIII is said to haunt the cloisters groaning and dragging his ulcerated leg. Elizabeth I haunts the royal library wearing a long black cloak. Her appearance signifies the advent of war (one of those who saw her was apparently George VI, the present Queen’s father).

The sad, mad face of George III has been reported peering from the window of the room in which he was detained. And Queen Victoria appeared to some terrified workmen who were removing some trees that had been planted by Victoria and Albert.

Windsor Great Park
Herne the Hunter, Richard II’s favourite huntsman can be seen running through the Great Park. Herne was mortally wounded while saving the king from being mauled by an angry stag. Some local wizards were called to save his life. But some people were jealous of Herne’s close relationship with the king and plotted against him, framing him for theft. Full of shame, Herne hanged himself in the park. His spirit is said to be looking for lost souls.

South Hill Park, Bracknell

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Unexplained banging, wailings, rattling keys, footsteps, rushes of cold air and lights that come on by themselves have been reported at this 19th century red brick mansion which incorporates an older house built in the 1760s.

One ghost is thought to be Major Richardson, a former owner who was deeply in debt. He shot himself in the gun room which is now the gents’ toilets.

But there have also been sightings of a man on the stairs and reports of a child crying. It’s thought that these are the spirits of a child that died when fire broke out in the nursery in 1890 and the butler who tried to save the child.

Do you have a spooky haunt near you? I’d love to hear about it!

1930s crimes – the jigsaw murders

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Innovative forensic techniques helped solve the murders of Isabella Kerr and her maid Mary Jane Rogerson in a case which gripped the nation in 1935.

On 19th September 1935 a tourist looking down from a bridge in Moffat, Dumfriesshire made a gruesome discovery – a human arm sticking out of the water. A police search of the ravine revealed 30 human body parts wrapped in newspaper.

One of the newspapers was a special edition of the Sunday Graphic that was only sold in the Morecambe and Lancaster areas which helped narrow the search for the murderer. By studying the list of subscribers Inspector Jeremiah Lynch of a Scotland Yard identified Buck Ruxton as a prime suspect.

Buck Ruxton, born Bukhara Rustomji Hakim, was a well respected doctor working in Lancaster. His common-law wife and their 20 year old maid had been reported missing since 15th September by the women’s families who didn’t accept any of Ruxton’s explanations which included Isabella leaving him for another man and Mary going away to have a baby.

Ruxton’s relationship with Isabella had been a tempestuous one. He was jealous of the attention she received from other men and suspected her of being unfaithful. She had reported him for assault in the past.

The bodies were reassembled and a new forensic technique was used, superimposing a photograph of the suspected victim’s face over the skull. The approximate date of death was determined by calculating the age of the maggots on the bodies. A dentist also gave evidence to confirm their identities.

At the trial it was suggested that Ruxton strangled Belle in a jealous rage because he believed she was having affairs. Mary the maid witnessed the murder or perhaps she discovered the body so to keep his secret safe he strangled her too. He then chopped up the bodies in his bathroom, wrapped them in newspaper, put them in the boot of his car and drove through the night to find a remote spot where he could dispose of them.

He had claimed to be in Settle at the time of the murder but unluckily for him on his way back from Dumfriesshire he had knocked over a cyclist in Kendal and been stopped by police who took down his registration number. He would not have had to go through Kendal on his way back from Settle but it would be a logical place to have passed through if driving down from Scotland.

Ruxton was found guilty and hanged. For a while his waxwork was exhibited at the Madam Tussaud Chamber of Horrors.