Friday, 24 June 2011

A ghost with a message

Famously enigmatic is the message from the ghost at the Black Horse Inn, also in Cirencester (Gloucestershire) at Castle Street. Whether or not this hotel is still haunted is a moot point, though it was long famous for having the most active and startling ghost in Cirencester. This troublesome spectre was the phantom of an elderly lady, dressed in the fashions of the early 19th century. Though nobody ever accused her of being malicious, she was a very definite nuisance. She would wander into bedrooms when gentlemen were undressed. Confront ladies on the staircase and refuse to give way. And the occasions were beyond counting when she came from nowhere to startle guests who had locked their rooms for the night.

In 1933 the then landlord decided that the ghost had to go. He called in a local clergyman who was known to be sympathetic to those plagued by the unexplained and asked for an exorcism. Taking no chances, the landlord shut the inn for the evening and showed the vicar up to one of the bedrooms most frequently troubled by the phantom.

The old lady was clearly unimpressed by being exorcised. She appeared in the room as the ceremony got under way and seemed to be in a frightful temper. Unable to stop proceedings she moved despairingly to the window and gesticulated frantically at the glass.

When the exorcism was over, the curious landlord went over to the window beside which his resident ghost had vanished. Cut deeply into the glass was a single word: “James”. Clearly the ghost was there because of somebody of that name, but who he was and why she felt compelled to remain at the Black Horse she did not have time to engrave.

Strangely the ghost has begun to be seen at the Black Horse again. She seems to have first reappeared in 1999, with guests reporting an oddly dressed old lady upstairs. Since then she has been seen infrequently, but quite clearly. Whatever business she has with the mysterious James is obviously important.

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