Friday, 21 October 2011

Some canterbury phantoms

From the West Gate in Canterbury's old town walls, walk southeast into St Peter’s Street. This pedestrianised thoroughfare is the oldest in Canterbury, following the route of the main street of the Roman city. The imposing gabled house on your right is the Old Weaver’s House.

This building is, in fact, not one house but several. They were built as a terrace in the later 16th century by Huguenot refugees fleeing persecution in France. They brought with them their skills as weavers, setting up their looms in the upper storeys of these houses and running shops from the ground floor. It is these looms that account for both the name of the building and for the windows, unusually large for domestic buildings of this date. The business of weaving needed good natural light.

Quite what accounts for the haunting is less clear. The shadowy figure of a lady in a long dress has been seen walking up one of the staircases on several occasions. She is rather indistinct, so it is difficult to be precise about the period from which she dates. Whoever she is, and however long she has been here, she is a gentle soul who goes about her business ignoring the mortal world around her.

 Continue along St Peter’s Street. After it passes Stour Street on the right, the road becomes the High Street.

The High Street and the narrow lanes off it have in recent years been the site of several sightings of a mysterious figure on a bicycle. Several pedestrians have been forced to leap out of the way of a cyclist who swoops around corners without regard for those in his way. Some have merely muttered under their breath about thoughtless road users, but others have turned to watch the miscreant only to see him vanish before their eyes.

Exactly who this man might be is unknown. He is smartly dressed, though his suit is said to be rather old fashioned in some undefined way, and his head is bare. These features might date him to some time in the later 1960s or 1970s, but even that is uncertain. All that can be said, with certainty, is that it is best to get out of the way of speeding cyclists in Canterbury High Street. Be they mortal or phantom, it is wise not to risk a collision.

from "Ghosthunter Walks in Kent" by Rupert Matthews

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