Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Ghosts in Workshop, Notts

The town of Worksop is an ancient one – the town museum has finds dating back to the distant Bronze Age. The site has been home to a thriving town ever since – even the dark days of the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Viking onslaught could not ruin Worksop.

It is appropriate, therefore, that Worksop should lay claim to one of the oldest ghosts of Nottinghamshire. In 1103 the Black Canons came to Worksop to establish a priory on the southern fringes of the town. They dedicated their house to St Cuthbert and built a solid church in the Norman style with two great towers flanking the West Facade. The church has been altered many times since, most recently in 1973, but the twin towers still rear up to dominate the surrounding land.

It is on top of one of these towers that the ghost is seen. He appears only late at night, usually after midnight, and is clearly in a state of high excitement - or possibly fear. He is seen to run around the top of the tower, peering over the wall as if watching something quite disturbing. Some say he jumps up and down as well as running back and forth. That this is a ghostly monk, none who have seen it doubt for a moment. But why he behaves as he does is quite unknown.

Equally unknown is the reality behind the stories of an underground tunnel that is said to run from the Priory Gatehouse to the site of the castle, some 2 miles away. Tales from the 19th century talk about a schoolboy who went down the tunnel and never returned except in spectral form, but there is no sign of a tunnel to be seen today. Since nobody has ever excavated the area, the story remains just a legend.

As if that were not enough mystery and supernatural activity, there is yet another ghost that is seen with some frequency in the grounds of the priory. This is of a lady in a blue dress. She is seen most often walking from the gatehouse to the church. Though not seen often, she is said to walk with a sprightly spring in her step as she passes along the avenue of mature trees.

This Blue Lady was glimpsed most recently in the autumn of 2004 by a chef walking home late one night from his work at one of the restaurants in the town. When she first appeared, he took little notice as he thought her to be some fellow late-night worker trotting home. But then she vanished into thin air right in front of his eyes. At the time of writing, the man has still not summoned up the courage any more to take the short cut through the priory grounds after dark.

The style of this ghost’s dress might date her to the later medieval period, though why a woman should trot lightly through the grounds of a monastery is obscure.


This is an extract from Haunted Places of Nottinghamshire by Rupert Matthews

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