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Canterbury’s Most Haunted

Emma Brazell investigates Canterbury’s darker side and introduces us to some of the cities more elusive residents…

Have you ever felt an eerie chill in the air as you tightly clutch your heavy shopping bags and make your way home through Canterbury high street? Maybe it’s just the weather. It is getting colder these days and you probably should have brought along your scarf. Or perhaps it’s the ghost of Nell Cook breathing on your neck, aimlessly roaming the streets in regret after murdering his niece and her lover… It could even be the lady in grey, forever trapped in the human world until someone finally digs up her skeleton hidden under the floorboards of The Old Weaver’s House.

We’re just being silly, ghosts don’t exist right? Yet when one delves a little deeper into the county known as ‘the garden of England’, unearthly presences can be found everywhere underneath its peaceful exterior.

Perhaps the most famous of the Canterbury supernatural spectacles takes place in Tiny Tim’s Tearoom, a delightful lunchtime spot which stands up to its namesake and serves a simply splendid cuppa tea. Aside from its tea merit, the café boasts it’s very own phantoms in the form of three young children.

When restorations took place a few years ago, workmen found children’s teeth and ringlets of their hair, alongside the name, date of birth and death for each child behind the panelling of the walls. Legend has it that the disturbance of these artifacts awoke the ghosts of the children who disturb the idyllic tearoom, unnerving staff and customers by appearing and then disappearing. They like to move objects, turn taps on and off and occasionally whisper to the guests.

Many of Canterbury’s ghost tales have more shocking back stories. Take Abigail for example. The Canterbury woman committed suicide after several years of being brutally beaten by her husband. It was she who was laughing in the end though, her death ultimately mistaken as a murder for which her husband was found guilty and hanged. Her spirit is said to still linger along Hawks Road… Still not convinced?

Keep in mind that your very own Kent campus may not be safe. Next time you pop out for a night at the Gulbenkian theatre, make sure not to bump into a ghostly stage-hand in all black clothing; the figure is said to climb ladders backstage occasionally startling the odd nervous actor who’s forgotten his lines. At the very least the story-tellers give us a good laugh; the ghost of an old Canterbury mayor is rumoured to speed around the city on his poorly kept bicycle happily waving at passer-byers. Now that’s a ghost I’d like to see. Another spectre to make you giggle is the unnamed ghost who makes a habit of tucking city occupants into bed at night.

So… perfectly plausible or merely designed for companies to trap tourists into giving up their hard earned money? Who really knows. Ghost hunters have been at battle for years and it’s not likely to be solved in a 500 word article. However, whether you buy into it or not, I bet there’s more than one of you checking under your bed tonight.

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