Thursday, 22 September 2011

NEW BOOK OUT TODAY - Haunted Surrey by Rupert Matthews.

“Surrey born and Surrey bred, Strong in arm, thick in head”

Well, that is the rhyme we used to sing when I was growing up in Surrey back in the 1960s. How true it is, I shall have to leave to others to decide.

What I do know is that Surrey is rich in history, folklore and ghosts. As I got out and about exploring on my bike as a boy, I came across all sorts of sights and stories. A bronze statue of Britannia stood on our village green, a gift from Queen Victoria who often visited a local manor house when she was a girl. Apparently it was taken down and buried behind the church in 1940 in case the Germans invaded and took a pot shot at it. Then there was the tall brick tower that was all that remained of a vast castle (Time Team later did a dig on that one and found the castle foundations).
And then there was the house where the dead walked. Knock on the front door at midnight, we local children all firmly believed, and the ghostly butler would answer the door to invite you in to your doom. I never knocked. I'm not that brave.

I grew up with these and other tales of Surrey. The battle fought against the Vikings at Ockley, the prince murdered in Guildford and the infamous reading of the riot act in Godalming. But nothing fascinated me half so much as the ghosts. I used to delight in tracking down tales of horror and ghoulish terror. It is a hobby that I still follow. I left by pedal bike behind years ago, and now am more likely to travel by car or train. But the thrill of finding a haunted place is still strong, and when I manage to track down a witness who actually saw a ghost I still get that little shiver.

Surrey is a most beautiful county. Outsiders have been known to sneer at it for being a mere suburb for London, but we locals know that there is far more to Surrey than that. I recall pulling up in Ripley one time to investigate a haunting at the Talbot Hotel. It transpired that the ghost has not been seen since a recent refurbishment. And that is not at all unusual. Many a haunting has ceased after some building work or other has disturbed the spook. Mind you, other hauntings begin when the builders move in. Having found out all I could at the Talbot I wandered off and later stopped for lunch at a local pub only to find that it was haunted as well.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever reach the end of the vast array of supernatural events, hauntings and spooks in Surrey. But then I turn a corner and find yet another ghost. It is a great hobby to have.


No comments:

Post a Comment