Is Cambridge haunted?
Do ghosts really haunt the streets of Cambridge? OLIVIA BELL and LOUIS SHANKAR join Cambridge City Ghost Tours to find out
Neither of us believe in ghosts. We also don’t believe in phantoms, mysterious sounds, haunted places, mystical ‘energy’ or any other kind of supernatural happenings.
So one would presume that doing a ghost tour in Cambridge on a drizzly and cold Friday night was not going to reward us with the most entertaining of evenings. But you know what, it really did.
Cambridge Ghost Tours is incredibly aware of its stereotype, and refreshingly makes no pretense to hide from its agenda. This is not a tour that dresses people up in top hats and cloaks and has actors jumping out, screaming and covered in blood next to Gardies.
Fenella, the lead guide, is a self-professed ‘professional Tarot card reader’ who looks not for Casper-the-friendly-ghost, but spiritual ‘energy’. She is charismatic, interesting and slightly whacky, but spins a good tale – and, whether you believe in the mysterious black dogs, the phantom penguins or the brutal murders she tells us about, she is certainly captivating.
Out of the 14 of us on the tour (we the only students, the rest a mix of tourists and locals), four initially confessed to believing in ghosts, with three undecided and the rest sane, cynical individuals like ourselves. And nothing Fenella or Tom said or did particularly changed my mind, but we did learn about the other side of Cambridge.
It’s no secret that the city has always had a darker side, with a leaning towards the spiritual; since John Dee, Newton, and Crawley witchcraft and the occult have slunk their way through Cambridge’s dark streets. And it’s not hard to understand why; from the mists on the river to the eerie spires of Kings, to students just trying to find a way out of lectures (‘I promise I was possessed!’).
The most interesting and actually creepy story, based on a Trinity drinking society, turned out to be fiction, which was regrettable as it was the only time we really felt chilled (although that may be because it started raining about halfway through).
There were moments when it felt slightly farcical; the atmosphere in Fenella’s attempt to ‘connect with the energy’ in Cambridge’s ‘most haunted spot’ (down by the back of Little St. Mary’s, in case you’re wondering) by swinging a pendulum and chanting was somewhat hampered by a reversing van, and we stood rather awkwardly waiting for the alarm to stop.
Sadly, no-one jumped out in a mask to scare the shit out of us. Or maybe we’re just saying that to make it more surprising if you go.
Or perhaps we’re just trying to put doubt in your mind and keep you on your toes. There’s only one way to find out…
Cambridge Ghost Tours run Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm. Log onto www.cambridgeghosttours.com for more booking information.